This Thursday (August 24), Australians are being urged to help raise funds for Take Away Hunger Day. The nationwide appeal seeks to feed thousands of child refugees from the war in South Sudan who have fled to camps in Uganda.
The appeal is being coordinated by Christian charity Feed The Hungry Australia whose Director Ben Evans told Vision Radio that a donation of just six dollars can feed one child for a month and help give them a future.
“It’s really hard to get a handle on the number of refugees because it’s quite high. In Uganda right now, there are 1.5 million refugees. I mean, that’s a staggering number. That’s more than the city of Adelaide, right? An entire city of Adelaide has come across the border and they have fled literally with the clothes on their back. They’ve had people come into their village, into their city, into their home, and they’ve had to run out the back door and run with whatever they can. And it’s not an easy journey. It can take days or even weeks to arrive. So they are coming to Uganda and they are just emotionally empty, they’re shattered. So that’s where we come in. We help to feed them,” Mr. Evans explained.
He added that many of the children are orphans. Some have had to deal with armed militia groups and wild animals in their flight to the safety of camps where they face new challenges: “Some of these refugees are having to learn new languages. It’s a very foreign environment. They arrived with nothing. But we thank God for the generosity of the Ugandan country that has opened its doors. They want to resettle them. They want to create opportunities. So they’ve built schools for these refugees because routine is really important for them. Education is also important when they come into these locations. In a refugee camp, there are not many resources. And this is where Feed the Hungry steps in,” Mr Evans added.
“Millions of meals are sent across to Uganda and other countries around the world. And we look for local trusted churches to partner with because we’re a Christian organisation and we want to partner with churches. We see ourselves as church to church in our orientation. We’re looking for churches to distribute the food. And in the case of these refugees, we do it in a school environment. So we provide hot, nutritious meals daily to children in a school lunch situation.”
“It encourages the children to come to school to get an education so they can concentrate, because I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to learn something when you haven’t eaten in a while. It’s so hard to concentrate when you haven’t eaten. So when we do it in these school environments, these children have the capacity to learn and they have great opportunities. We talk to the children all the time and they would say: If I get good grades, I can get a good job. And if I get a good job, I can get out of this situation. I can have a good future. And that’s what we’re part of. We’re providing more than a meal, we’re actually providing a future for them.”
The Australian head of Feed the Hungry stressed that his charity’s operation is extremely lean, meaning that nearly all of the donations go directly to the children. “As an organisation, we have just seven offices around the world — America, Canada, UK, Germany, the Czech Republic. We’re part of what we call LeSEA Global Feed the Hungry. So I look after Australia, New Zealand, Asia Pacific which is a very big area. Actually worldwide, we have less than 50 staff and it’s only through church partnerships that we do that. And that’s what I love about Take Away Hunger Day because it’s really through partnerships. So we have partner organisations that donate food to us and we have wonderful people like Vision Christian Radio listeners who are partnering with Feed the Hungry to get food to those who need it most. And of course you have the local churches at the other end handing out the food in Jesus’s name with no strings attached, just telling them: Jesus loves you.”
Geopolitical and weather developments are also impacting heavily on the supply of food to millions of starving people across Africa. “It’s amazing to think that little Johnny in Uganda is actually affected by things that are way outside his control. It’s not that he has worked hard and it’s failed. He’s actually affected by things that are beyond his control. So weather is a factor. So are famines when they come through. You can’t sow crops if there’s no rain. So in a sense, climate has an impact on them. Then there are wars. They’re civil wars that are happening around them. Where there’s civil war, there’s criminal activity. And then there’s things like Ukraine, which is crazy to think that little Johnny in Uganda is affected by Ukraine. But Ukraine is one of the world’s largest wheat producers and they also produce fertiliser. The disruption in that supply is having that flow-on effect. So the reasons why so many people are hungry can become quite complex, but the solution is so simple. A little child has to come up to me to say, I’m hungry. And what is your response to that? There is only one response. You need to feed these children,” Ben Evans asserted.
The Christian media sector all across Australia including Vision has raised this year’s appeal to a new level by coming together to support Take Away Hunger Day and encourage donations that are multiples of the $6 dollars that would feed one child for a month. For example, $60 would feed one child for 10 months or 10 children for a month. $600 would feed one child for more than 8 years or 100 children for a month.
Mr. Evans says: “Through partnerships, we actually are receiving food that we have. It’s just in the wrong place. So think of it as in Europe or America or in Australia when the food is needed in Africa. And so with a donation of $6, we can get it from where we have it into the places that we need it, into the hands of children in Uganda, we can actually cook it. We’re providing meals for schools so that children can get an education because that’s how they’re going to escape the poverty cycle.”
You can make a donation via the Vision Christian Media website.
Click below to listen to the full interview with Ben Evans, Director of Feed the Hungry.