Saturday, September 10, 2011

Looking back at The Hunger Project

So I hate that I missed the weekly mark for the blog but I just felt this one was to important to rush through and with school in progress my schedule was overloaded this week. Last Monday morning was the one month mark for the the Hunger Project and although I do not consider the hunger project to be over in the least the part where I go without food has been completed. One month with really only a handful of bananas and saltine crackers proved to be one of the most trying and insightful times in my life. As I stated in each weekly blog no week was the same and yet every week taught me so much. The fourth and final week was brutally hard physically. The last two days I could barely stand longer than 15 minutes at a time, I cried at the drop of a hat, and I felt miserably hungry. I can honestly say the pictures and videos from Africa and the support and prayers of people around me got me through those last few days.

My amazing boyfriend took me to an all night spa the very last night to help me get through the last few hours and it was a cool experience because we laid in sauna rooms that were 165 degrees and as I sweat I felt as if it was the last cleansing stage before the project ended. At midnight we left and I begged him to go to Ihop so I could get some oatmeal and toast. He gave in even though he was hesitant that it was a good idea and he ended up being right. When I got there the smells and sights of food literally made me feel crazed and my stomach and mind became greedy. I gave up my cautious plan of oatmeal and downed some eggs and one blueberry pancake before I realized my foolish mistake. The food felt like a foreign object in my stomach and within minutes I was sick. I spent the next 24 hours scared to try eating again but eventually I was able to take it slow and eat small things. I've been eating again for almost a week and although I can only eat small portions the initial nauseousness has faded.

I am so grateful for food as I've had more energy and physical strength since eating again but there are things I miss too. I've realized I've spent $75 dollars of food and drink this week. Most of it being luxury food at restaurants... Now while I don't judge anyone for eating or eating out I realize how easy it is to become wasteful. This week I am going to do better at eating for necessity not luxury. I have been careful and trained in thinking about Africa constantly which was the whole purpose behind the Hunger Project. Even though my stomach was full this week the excess of rain here in the midst of drought there made me think/pray all the harder. I'm thankful that I have not forgotten and I hope you havent either.

I didn't find/hear much new, news on the famine this week. Foreign aid groups continue to help and money is still being raised and yet the need is still great! In a time of damaging and devastating flooding to some here in Va, and a horrifying drought/famine in Africa I pray for a balance and a peace to cover the earth. Until then, we must continue to pray, give, and remember!

I do feel like I understand hunger better than I did but I will never completely understand the constant day to day hunger so many around the world endure on a daily basis. For this reason the Hunger Project will never really be over in this life-time.

Keep doing your part-don't be ignorant of the world around you!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 21: Of the Hunger Project

It has been 21 days since I ate anything more substantial than a handful of Saltine crackers and fruit. It has by far been the most interesting and rewarding thing I have ever done. Each week has been dramatically different. In my last post I talked about having a clarity during week two that made me feel energized. This past week was the opposite though. I was extremely hungry all week and very emotional for no real reason. My stomach felt empty and I was very agitated. I really feel like this was the week I had been waiting for- a week of true discomfort, and hunger. Up until this point I had been able to sit next to people eating with little to no trouble but now being anywhere near food is miserable for me.

Another thing that is miserable for me is hearing and reading that children in Africa are still dying daily and that there is still no rain. I felt a bit better when the last of the money came in this week to send the 20 food containers over. Those containers hold a total of 5 million meals. These meals will help immensely but not at all indefinitely. The famine was expected to last until December but now that date has been moved out until August of next year. It absolutely breaks my heart! Even though the food containers have been sent there are still so many needs for water and medicine. Please don't stop praying and giving!

This will be my final week of the hunger project at least the part of it where I don't eat. Next Sunday will be the one month mark and with me starting back teaching I want to make sure I am well fueled and energized. It will definitely not be the end of the blog or the end of the famine and I will do my best to continue to keep everyone updated about news around the world.

Headed into week 4,


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 14: Of the Hunger Project

Well, I'm glad that I didn't commit to blogging every night of this project because this past week sure got away from me. I can't believe it has been 2 weeks since I have started this project. Physically, this week was completely different then week 1. Most of the week my body felt adjusted to the lack of food and I actually had a fair amount of energy. I started working out again on Friday because I noticed I am beginning to lose muscle mass. Even though I was worried about working out without food in me it actually went fine and I felt fine too. I still burn through daily energy quickly and my mouth is dry and cracked even though Iv'e been drinking water by the gallon. I've also had horrible indigestion which I hear is cause by stomach acid but all of things are a relatively small price to pay for a far greater cause.

This project continues to be very important to me and in my eyes very beneficial. I have spent a good majority of my week talking about world hunger and poverty with so many different people. There are still so many that are totally unaware of what is going on around the world and specifically with the famine. When I tell people what is going on they have been so willing to help and have been eager to donate money to help send over containers of food. Most of the conversations that I have been able to have, have stemmed from people making comments like; "I didn't see you eat lunch," or "Wow, you are losing weight are you on a diet?" I've then been able to explain the hunger project to them. Which has in turn spread awareness.

I have benefitted personally from this project too. You see when your life isn't run by food and your body isn't sluggish and content your mind must work double time to help sustain you're daily functions. As your mind works there is a certain clarity that comes out of it. I have really thoughts things through and pondered the deeper things in life these last two weeks. I've allowed myself to grieve, wrestle with and question the tragic things in life (like 30,000 children dying in the last three months). It has been an experience in and of itself to allow myself to feel raw emotion without trying to anesthetize with food, drink and busy-ness. I haven't had one night where the pictures of starving and poverty stricken children haven't run through my head and I still have not had one moment where I have regretted starting the hunger project.

The fact is that Somalia and other African countries are still in dire need of help. The famine/drought is expected to last through December and children are still dying in the thousands. My acquaintance from world help is there now and has been blogging and emailing telling of the dismal situation there, which is even worse than what is being reported. He has personally witnessed children dying in their mothers' arms just in the few days he has been there. I am going to attach his blog below and hope each of you will go read more about what is going on in Somalia. He has links on his page to donate money to help. Even a small amount of money can feed thousands. He has videos and real time pictures that I hope will remind you how real this famine is.

Please pray that the rain we have had here will also grace the continent of Africa. Remember in those frustrating moments when there is traffic because of rain or when your nicely styled hair goes flat, or your cable goes out in a storm that there are hundreds of thousands of people who are sick and dying because there is no rain where they live. Remember to thankful in/for all things you've been given.

And so the project continues,


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 7: Of the Hunger Project

The first week of the project is over and it has already been so life changing. I think I've been through every emotion and was pushed and challenged in so many ways. I learned a lot about hunger. I think the most interesting thing was that I expected to be miserable because of stomach cramps and hunger pangs (...) but actually I rarely thought about my stomach because every other body part was so uncomfortable. When you don't eat any more than a banana and 5 Saltine crackers a day (I haven't been eating the cheerios any longer) your body rebels. Today I could literally see my pulse pumping through my forehead and leg at the same time, it was pretty weird and uncomfortable. I also have a very metallic taste in my mouth, my ankles and knees ache, and I am fighting bits of dizziness. The worst thing so far is that I have such a small amount of energy compared to my general energizer bunny personality.

I'm so humbled and grateful to have experienced these discomforts though because people all over the world live this life and these discomforts every day. If they were writing this blog it would be day 10,000 plus of the hunger project. People around here keep asking me how I'm doing/feeling through this (I know it's a little unconventional and uncommon so I understand that some are concerned for my health) but I just explain to them that it has been a tough week and I am hungry, exhausted, and a little sick but I don't regret it or want to change anything about it because this is in a strange way what I wanted to feel.

There is some good news from Somalia. Somalian military has finally pulled back letting American groups and aid come into help. The need is great but now that access in is't a problem hopefully their will be an end in sight as quick as possible.

The rain here tonight was a blessing. As I rode home I thanked God for it and prayed he'd send it from us to Africa so that their crops will grow and so their people will have clean water.

I learned a lot about hunger this week and I learned a lot about myself and people all over the world. I still don't think I'm at that point where I get it completely. The truth is I'll never get it completely because I'm always going to have accommodations and different circumstances then what these people go through but I still think I can learn and understand more than I do now. I can get a little closer.

The project continues.... (I may not post every night from here on out but I will make sure I update at least once a week.)

Truly blessed,


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 6: Of the Hunger Project

I'm a little bit posting tonight so at this point it's technically day 7 but better late then never. Short update for day 6 because it was a replica of day 5. Still nauseous but still hanging in there... I was invited to blog for another blog today which means more people are now aware of the famine. If that is all that comes of this project it will still be worth it! Being aware of what is going on in the world around us, humbles us (or should I say it SHOULD humble us).

I know one thing, hunger is humbling me!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 5: Of the Hunger Project

Day 5 has definitely been the most challenging day so far. When my alarm went off at 5am I realized that I didn't feel so good. My stomach was making loud, angry noises and I felt sick (nauseous). After using a cool wash cloth on the back of my neck I felt good enough to jump on my bike to head to work. The ride wasn't the greatest though. A creaky chain on my bike caused a slight vibration that I could feel in the pit of my stomach. Since there is nothing really in my stomach it was very uncomfortable. I made it to work though and decided I'd better eat my banana to try to calm my body. It eventually worked and within a half hour I felt better.

The day was also more challenging because I am up late which has stretched my day and my resolve. I've been going to bed really early all week from exhaustion and trying to shorten my day but tonight I decided I wanted to see a movie with a friend. The theater was filled with all kinds of foods which made my stomach growl loudly. It is interesting the way hunger has built and faded in the last five days. It's teaching and changing me so much. When I was really uncomfortable for a little while today I just kept repeating to myself over and over, "29,000 children under the age of five have died over the last 90 days. With 1,000's more expected in days to come. 29,000!" Those words and numbers put everything in perspective for me and make me know that I am not yet hungry enough to begin to understand 29,000.

Here's to hoping and praying the famine ends soon!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 4: Of the Hunger Project

Today has been okay. My body is bearing these first days of relatively no food well. My heart is heavy with  continuous bad news from Somalia, including an email I just received from an acquaintance I have at World Help. I will attach it below. I am still incredibly lethargic but I feel alert mentally. I didn't eat the banana today because the crackers and cheerios were enough to sustain me through the dizziness... I have had the opportunity to share about Somalia, Honduras and the Hunger project the last few days which has heightened awareness. A colleague of mine had no idea of the famine going on and is going to join me on a lesser scale by giving up one meal a day. The money we save from not eating out/groceries will go to shipping containers of food to Kenya where there is a refugee camp for the Somalians. I will attach the information below in case you too would like to contribute. It takes $6,000 to send one container and every bit helps.

I hope you'll consider helping if you can! Here is the email I received about the current situation in Africa. 


"Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya now bears the grim title of the largest refugee camp on planet earth. Overcapacity and under-resourced, Dadaab is a virtual city of ramshackle tents as far as the eye can see. The rusty glow of dust covers the landscape in a haze that resembles the barrenness of a hellish wasteland.

Built to hold no more than 90,000 refugees at a time, Dadaab has been stretched to the limits, housing multitudes of desperate men, women, and children fleeing from nearby Somalia. The population is nearing half a million, with 1,000 new refugees being absorbed every day into the weakening pulse of this tired and tattered city.

Caravans of families move slowly on the way to Dadaab, often walking for weeks in order to reach the only oasis left in the desert. Reports say that 50 percent of children entering Dadaab are malnourished, while as a whole, 30,000 under the age of 5 have perished in the last 90 days alone. For the average Somali woman who has seven or more children, this could mean losing three or four of her family at a time—the unthinkable for any mother or father. One mother named Halima Omar told the U.N.:
"There is nothing in the world worse than watching your own child die in front of your eyes because you cannot feed him . . . I am losing hope."

The people in Dadaab are in dire need of vaccines, water, and food. Reports say there is not enough water to begin to meet the minimum requirements for survival. With 600,000 children on the brink of starvation, Eastern Africa has recently been named “the most desperate place on earth.” 

This crisis demands not only a swift response from international governments and aid agencies, it demands our every effort; it demands our hearts. We must be bold and we must be relentless. For any follower of Christ, indifference no longer remains an option, yet it continues to be the most pressing opponent of our faith.

Since the onset of the crisis, twenty 40-foot containers of corn, high-protein soup mix, and other food supplies have been secured by World Help, containing enough provisions to accommodate 5 million meals.

We have already raised the funds to send 2 containers of aid to Kenya, but we need your help to send 18 more!

In only a few short days, I will be traveling to Kenya and Dadaab specifically to assess the needs of the refugees there and to collaborate with aid strategists and government officials on the best way to send shipments of humanitarian aid into the camp.

The cost of shipping each container is $6,000, a relatively small amount to pay for such a tremendous impact, especially during one of the most urgent human catastrophes of the twenty-first century. Will you consider underwriting the cost of one of these containers through a charitable gift as a church, family, or business?

In my 20 years of ministry through World Help, this disaster ranks among the most severe of crises that I have ever seen. Perhaps what is most striking is how little attention the story is receiving from the news. As Anderson Cooper recently commented, “600,000 kids on the brink of starvation—that should be a headline around the world.”

I covet your prayers for the millions of people hanging on for their lives. Please join me in responding to this crisis as you would respond to your own family in time of need.

You may give by calling toll free 800-541-6691 to place a gift on your credit card, or click here to give online. You can also donate $10 by texting WORLDHELP to 85944.

We also need your help in spreading the word. We have made it easy for you to share this great need and fundraise along with us by going to

Watch for more reports of my time in Kenya next week.

Help for today . . . hope for tomorrow,

Thank you, and God bless,"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 3: Of the Hunger Project

Today was pretty good considering I haven't eaten anything but a handful of cheerios, bananas, and crackers in three days. It's amazing how a body can quickly adjust. I didn't have any appetite until almost 4pm. I ate my crackers and actually felt kind of full after. I haven't touched the other food yet. No headache today but it's not even 7 pm and I'm dead tired. I'm so thankful for water to drink because it definitely helps me get through the day without food. It makes me so sad to think that most other countries don't even have clean water for their children to drink.

This project has already been rewarding for me even though it's based on an awful situation. Even though I'm not to that true hungry point yet, every time my head hurts or my stomach growls I think about hungry people around the world. That's what this project is all about making sure I never forget and hoping that you'll never forget. Never forget to pray, never forget to help, never forget to be thankful...

On to Day 4- Here's to not forgetting!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 2: Of the Hunger Project

Today was a long day. Tuesdays are always long because I leave for work at 5:30am and don't get home until 9:30 pm. Today seemed extra long though. Meal times seem to break up the day. I never realized how much I schedule and measure my day by when the next meal is. When you are not really eating the day just drags by and you are more conscience of every moment that ticks by. When I woke up this morning I had no appetite which helped me get all the way to 12 pm before a hunger headache hit. My left eye and temple throbbed from lack of sugar and caffeine. I chose to eat the cup of cheerios at that point to help subside the headache but I think I should have chosen the crackers first because the bland oats were useless. I wasn't going to make the same mistake as yesterday and eat two of my three rations at once so I guzzled some water and hoped the cheerios would help me get through couple of hours. At 4:00 I was a bit edgy and my head was pounding so I ate the 5 saltine crackers which helped a little. At 7pm I had to focus in a class so I ate my banana but I felt so lethargic afterwards that I had to put my head down. Within about 10 minutes the banana worked it's magic and I gained some strength and energy from it.

Overall though other than being a tad bit lethargic and the headache I still felt pretty decent. At this point the worst thing is feeling hungry and smelling and seeing food around me. I think of all the children who go to school or walk through their city and smell the foods all around them and yet never have the chance to taste them. I think about their empty stomachs growling at the sight and scent of food around them. We ate at Pizza Hut after visiting the orphanage one night in Honduras and I made a comment about how I bet the orphans would love if we threw them a pizza party to which a Honduran resident replied, "they've probably never tasted pizza in their life."

One day I'm going to throw those orphans a pizza party but until then I'm going to tell their story and seek to understand what they feel/ go through a little more. I'm not there yet-time to get even hungrier!

As you sit down and eat tomorrow with your families thank God that you and your children don't go hungry and remember those who do.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 1: Of the Hunger Project

Today is the first day of my hunger project and boy has it been tough. For a little caution and safety I did ration a meager amount of food (a piece of fruit, 1 cup of dry cheerios, and 5 saltine crackers) to eat throughout the day, just to ensure I didn't pass out at work... I figured this would be the equivalent of what a impoverished child/adult may have access to in a day.

I left for work at 5:30 this morning and by 7:00am my stomach was already begging me for food. I drank two bottles of water to try to push off the hunger because it was to early to break into my small food stash. By 10am I had drank two more bottles of water and finally gave into eating half of the banana (the other half was rotten-how appropriate.) Other than my stomach growling I felt fine. By 3:00 I had to dip into the crackers which was the wrong thing to do because as soon as they hit my stomach it awakened the hunger pangs and I gave in and downed the cup of cheerios. Now it is a little after 7:00pm and the days rations are gone. I am furiously chewing gum and drinking water hoping for a false feeling of full. I can't lie that I am excited to sleep so I don't think about being hungry or about food for a couple of hours. I still feel fine overall and my energy and clear mind are still intact, which tells me this is not the hunger level I am pursuing. I need to get hungrier. Thus it continues....


The Hunger Project

I've always been a tangible, learn by experience kind of girl. I wish I was that person who could be told the stove was hot and could walk away, but no, I have to burn myself to truly understand that it is hot. This fact about myself means I often have to explore the simple and complex concepts of life using a hands on approach. I think that is why I find my heart beats the strongest when I am traveling. There is something about being in a new land, with new people, and new sights that makes one ponder the deeper, confusing things in life.

I just returned this past weekend from Honduras. It was my first trip there and being the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere it was my definitely my biggest glimpse into true poverty. Don't get me wrong, I have seen children in rags and shoeless walking the streets in Europe and I have seen deformed and malnourished children tied to beds in Jamaican orphanages. Even still, something was different about Honduras. Maybe it was the widespread poverty that seemed to touch almost all city and country inhabitants or maybe it was just the extremeness of the poverty (no shoes, clothes, food and little shelter....). Whatever it is/was, it shook me. When I close my eyes; I see the toddler whose ribs stuck out but whose belly was hard and big from worms. I see the shame in the school girl's eyes as she tried to hide the skin disease on her feet as I fitted her for shoes. I see the desperation in the mothers' faces as they ran behind our supply truck hoping for just a little more. Children caged like animals in an orphanage surrounded by barb wire-well, it's just not right.

Every day I passed out supplies and every day I left those bordos and orphanages and headed back to my hotel. I'd be exhausted by the time I got there and I'd be "starving." Long days in the heat doing manual labor and passing out all of those supplies sure gave me an appetite and I'd woof down an amazing dinner in a Honduran restaurant.

Then, I got back to the States and a friend emailed me about the famine in Somalia that is killing tens of thousands of children. I watched video clips of children in this famine who are as thin as my arm who are just slowing wasting away without food and water. Then I looked through my trip pictures and saw the devastation and hunger represented there as well, and I wondered to myself; "What is it like to be hungry?"

Now I'm not talking about that "starving" feeling that I talked about above when I referred to myself being hungry after 5 hours of not eating something. I'm talking about true hunger that comes from days and weeks of not eating anything substantial or maybe nothing at all. After mulling over this question for two days and finding no real peace about it I knew it was time to make it tangible. I decided the only way I am going to understand the true severity of hunger that these children face every day is by getting hungry, very hungry.

For the next week or so I will forgo food to pursue hunger. Instead of eating I will journal/blog what hunger feels like as it builds and wanes. Hopefully what I learn in my own quest will enlighten you to not forget how blessed you are and might inspire you to help stop hunger around the world.

Thus the hunger project is born. It is my personal quest to understand hunger just a little better. I will never truly understand what these children go through living in poverty; but hopefully experiencing just an ounce of it will help me never forget to do what I can to help them.

Let us be hungry to help others,