World Vision’s National 30 Hour Famine – by Ceilidh Millar

On April 27th, youth across Canada will be participating in World Vision’s National 30 Hour Famine. The 30 Hour Famine is the world’s largest youth fund raiser where local youth go hungry for a day to help save the lives of others around the world.

World Vision’s charities focus on the well being of all people, especially children. Funds raised from the annual 30 Hour Famine event go towards four main causes: water, food and nutrition, education and child protection and safety.

 

 

Vervegirl interviewed James Odong, Associate Director of Peace Building for World Vision International. A former child soldier, James escaped Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army and helped establish World Vision’s Children of War Centre in Northern Uganda. The centre addresses the needs of children traumatized by war. The centre has helped rehabilitate more than 10 thousand children from Uganda and neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

James Odong

Vervegirl: Tell our readers your story and why you became involved in World Vision.

James: I grew up in the rural part of Uganda. At the early age of 19, Northern conflict was at its peak. I was living in Gulu Town. I was riding on my bicycle and I fell in a pool of water and I broke my hand. I went to the hospital to get medication. While I was at the hospital, the rebels attacked the hospital to steal drugs and other amenities. Unfortunately, I was there. I tried to run into better hiding, but that’s when I was captured by the rebels. I saw it all. The abuse, the rape, and brutal killings – I saw it all. I narrowly escaped death when I came face to face with the rebel leader, Joseph Kony. After two months, I escaped captivity and returned back home to where my family was living. After I came home, I joined World Vision. My motivation to help others was my own experience. The things that I saw, the brutality, the suffering and abuse, the things that myself and others went through was so horrible. That was the motivation behind starting the centre for Children of War with World Vision in Gulu.  I didn’t know I would be sharing my story today with you and many other people.

Vervegirl: Why is it important for youth in Canada to participate in the 30 Hour Famine?

James: I want to say that in order for World Vision to do all the work they are doing in Uganda, that the organization does not do it on its own. They work with support offices like Canada. Canada’s office has been playing a very key role in supporting all these programs – especially, the youth and communities that are participating in 30 Hour Famine. The resources they are raising are helping to make a difference in Uganda. The resources they are raising are making a difference in the lives of the children in Uganda.  This is making a difference in the lives of children because they are providing them education, protection, trauma recovery and healing their wounds. It is an initiative like 30 Hour Famine that provides such wonderful support to help people who seem to be far away, but in reality their life is touched so greatly. Their lives are impacted in  so many different ways from this program.

Vervegirl: How has World Vision helped to make a difference in the lives of these children?

James: World Vision is a great opportunity for me. At the early age of my abduction, when I came back, I did not benefit from what World Vision is providing today for child soldiers. When I began working with World Vision, I helped to set up the Children of War Centre in Northern Uganda. I was able to help rehabilitate children that had gone through similar experiences that I had gone through. To date, this program has rehabilitated over 10,000 children. I find that we are contributing very meaningful to the lives of children that have been affected by conflict. We are also making a difference by partnering with world offices like Canada.

Vervegirl: Do you remain hopeful for the future of these children?                                                    

James: Children still remain in a very vulnerable situation in Uganda. An initiative like the 30 Hour Famine really does help children in Northern Uganda. The parents cannot support their children. The parents are unable to meet their needs. Any resources that come from an initiative like 30 Hour Famine makes a great difference. It gives life and hope to children in those communities. That is what World Vision stands for – making a difference in the lives of children around the world. We’re making a difference in the lives of children in Northern Uganda. It has helped rehabilitate children who have been devastated by war from the past 20 years. These are children who have never seen what peace looks like. From the time of their birth they have never seen peace. They have always faced these difficulties. The hope being restored through such programs will make a great difference in their lives and the lives of generations to come.

If you help a home, you have helped a number of children. The initiative should not simply look at individual children, but it should look at a community in a broad sense. When you help a child, it will help the community.

It’s easy for youth here at home to stay motivated during the famine event knowing that the money they raise will go to rehabilitate traumatized children. Through providing education, resources and opportunities, children in Uganda are given hope for a better life.  By participating in the 30 Hour Famine, youth in Canada are helping youth on the other side of the world to a brighter future!