Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

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End Hunger... Pass it On

Today is Blog Action Day and this year's theme is Poverty. The idea is that bloggers will write about the issue of Poverty to help heighten awareness.

This has been an issue very near to my heart for many years. As a college student, I had the opportunity to volunteer in an orphanage in Haiti on two occasions. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. This for me was the first time that I stared hunger and poverty in the face as I held children with bloated bellies broom stick bodies. This was an experience that changed my life. I started my career as a teacher on the Navajo Nation. Many of my students lived in homes without running water and electricity. I loved the opportunity to touch their lives in positive ways. My teaching experiences in the developing world put me face to face with the pictures of poverty that many only see in magazines. The devastating effects of war and famine were real to me as I volunteered in a clinic in Mogadishu, Somalia. I had the habit of carrying bread with me as I walked the streets of Kenya, Indonesia and Ecuador to do my errands. I would always encounter someone in need of some nourishment. Poverty was very real to me and I vowed to never let those images grow dim.

Now I am a greater distance from that extreme "magazine" hunger and poverty geographically. At times, it is hard to conger up those images in a land of plenty. It is hard to get my head around the fact that poverty is here in my own neighborhood. Just not as blatant and vivid, but still very real. As a public school teacher in Mount Vernon, I encounter poverty on a daily basis. A family who can't afford new glasses so the child can see the board. A mother who becomes homeless when the father leaves and she can't pay the rent. Children who only get food when served at school. Poverty and hunger exist not just on the other side of the world in developing countries, but just around the corner and even in my classroom.

It is easy to be overwhelmed with the facts about poverty both on the other side of the world and in our own neighborhood. It just seems like something that will always be around, no matter how much we care or what we give.

The past several years I have been involved with a great organization that truley believes that we CAN make poverty history and end hunger. What an amazing pie in the sky idea. But they don't just believe it, they actually have a plan and they are ending hunger and poverty in communities all over the world.

Heifer International is working to end hunger and poverty by empowering people to help not only themselves but others in their community. Think about how lives are changed when someone is able to go from needy to needed. The general idea is that Heifer provides an animal to a family. Heifer trains the family how to house and care for their animal. The first offspring of the animal is then shared with another family as they pass on the gift. A few years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Heifer Projects in Honduras as a member of an educator's study tour. As I mentioned earlier, I have had lots of opportunities to wittness hunger and poverty around the world. What I saw in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the the West, was HOPE. In the villages where Heifer was at work, I didn't see begging and and sadness. I saw pride, hardwork and HOPE. Mothers were thrilled to show me their cow and share the fact that their children drink milk. Everywhere we went, we saw stories of hope and progress. I began to believe too, that we can end hunger and poverty.

One thing that I really love about Heifer International is that they see education as a major component of ending hunger and poverty. Making others aware of what they can do to help the earth and its people is a huge part of making a difference. Heifer has wonderful education programs, that focus on much more than raising money. Heifer offfers cross curricular resources for teaching children about the world around them, caring for the earth, and fair trade. Heifer has a program at their ranch where teens can come and simulate living in poverty in countries around the world. Heifer has a website with many tools for teachers to use. The World Ark is an excellent magazine with informative and inspiring articles about issues of hunger and poverty and caring for the earth.

As a 6th grade teacher, I was always looking for ways to share the issues of hunger and poverty with my students and empower them to make a difference. Each year we held a Penny War to End Hunger where we raised money and awareness. Each year our 5th and 6th graders produce a musical. The last two years, my students created a public service video about Heifer to share at our Heifer night of the play. This was another way we were able to share. The Get It Curriculum fit right into our Pacific Rim Studies. Students learned about trade between Latin America and the US. They learned about the trade of bananas, coffee and cut flowers. We had great discussions about fair trade and labor issues. Education is a powerful way to fight hunger and poverty.

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1 comment:

Kern Kelley said...

Check out the site sometime if you haven't before. A great mix of giving and receiving at the same time.