Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Enough food for everyone: The Big IF campaign

On Thursday the 6th June, I received a text from a friend I hadn't seen in a while asking me to come along to a festival of sorts, promising drinks, food and music. So of course I immediately said yes and sent the text on to another friend so that we could really make a day of it.

What I hadn't realised is that my friend had greatly understated what the day was about and so on Saturday the 8th June I found myself amongst a 45,000 strong crowd campaigning against world hunger in one of London's most beautiful spaces Hyde Park. (Organised by a coalition of almost 200 organisations

So with the day having a heavier meaning then what I had initially planned for, I embraced the event full throttle and what followed was at the very least an education and at best an awakening of sorts from my sheltered bubble.

The three of us started out at Marble Arch station, and basically followed the crowds until we were literally at the front of the stage. Speakers included Danny Boyle and Bill Gates and a host of other dignitaries. The emphatic Myleene Klass presented the event. They shared their thoughts with us on the campaign, throwing in facts and figures to an attentive crowd. Like did you know that a child dies every 15s from hunger? No me neither..

Picture 1: the view from the stage overlooking the attendees of the Big If Campaign

Emotive videos were shown intermittently, the footage showed children of all different races from various countries in the third world suffering from severe malnutrition. Many of the children looked as if they had suffered horrific burns injuries, the kind that are caused by hot water but in actual fact these patches were caused by hunger. On large screens we watched as mothers reacted to burying their children due to being unable to provide them with enough food to make it into adulthood, we saw a father describe his anguish at having to listen to his daughter crying every hour of everyday as there just wasn't any food for him to give her.

But here's the crux, there is enough food. There's enough food in the world in order to prevent these deaths and ensure that no one goes hungry. However, our world leaders are not doing enough about it. This is why this campaign is different from others that I have attended, seen on TV or the usual. You see they weren't asking for financial contributions from the crowd. No, what they wanted was our voices, our voices to be used collectively to be heard loud and clear by David Cameron and the other G8 leaders all attending the G8 summit in London that weekend. We were urged to act as one, and send tweets to David Cameron and sending text messages to a number displayed on screen in order to add our names to a petition.

The campaign achieved a degree of success, a further 2.7 billion pounds was pledged to tackling this issue by the G8 leaders. Although, I'm not sure what issues this poses as David Cameron is not best known for his problem solving ability, in actual fact he's more of a tornado taking the UK back to Victorian times but that's a story for another day. So back to the day in Hyde Park, the sun bore down on us whilst we carried our placards with provocative messages and our paper windmills each petal supposed to represent the millions of children that die every year due to hunger.

The show closed and we headed down past Princess Diana's Memorial Fountain, where children played in the water and were having fun with their parents. I couldn't help but compare these happy children with the ones I'd just seen on the video footage at the Big IF Campaign stage and wondering if this inequality would end in my lifetime. Reaching the paper flower garden, which was a visual delight we milled around for a while talking to the volunteers and other attendees. Then we headed off as a group and in the search of food.

Picture 2: The Paper Flower Garden created by the Big IF Campaign volunteers

Stumbling across a pub on the Kings Road, we had picked up a few more people along the way and we all ordered are drinks and food. Chatting away, sharing our sentiments and getting to know these new acquaintances looked to be a good ending to the day. However, I often find that I become full very quickly and regularly leave about a quarter of my food uneaten when dinning out. I did this again at the pub, and one of the members commented in jest 'Ivy, how can you waste your food after the event we have just been too?'. It was this flippant remark that was the most poignant of the day as although I know my friend was joking, there was a latent truth to the question. While there are those of us that can afford to buy a spontaneous meal, there are still so many people wondering where there next meal is coming from. The gap is so wide its easy to switch off and wait for a miracle.

We already produce enough food to feed the world, but the policies and conditions that ensures that poverty and inequality exists in our world need to be changed to put a stop to hunger globally. Advocating for this change togehter, we could become that miracle.

Rally your friends and let our voices be heard

Tweet/write to world leaders

Sign up to the BIG IF Campaign

Let's just do all we can to shorten the gap between the haves and have not's.

Ivy Nwanze
June 2013

Follow Ivy @IvyNz