Its hard to believe now that less that two weeks ago I was sitting in a mud hut in Ethiopia (blissfully unaware of the fleas biting me) being served coffee by a woman who probably earns in a month what I earn in a few hours.
I was in the home of Abadit (above brewing coffee in her courtyard), a widow with seven children who was honoring her guests with freshly roasted, ground and brewed coffee, laid out on a bed of eucalyptus, while frankincense burned. I was humbled and grateful to receive such generous hospitality by a woman who had just moments before told me of when her family had such little money they ate only two meals per day – sometimes less. They ate simple porridges made of barley or wheat – never any vegetables, dairy or meat. Her children were sick, they couldn’t attend school. She was desperate.
When Abadit was widowed, she lost her income and was unable to irrigate her family’s land. Luckily, 2 years ago she was given a cow by Save the Children which now provides her with a steady income as she sells butter and milk, and enables her family to eat nutritious meals daily. She has also been able to hire men to farm her land for her – meaning they also have vegetables. She now works with the Minister of Agriculture to show her local community how to grow and prepare a wide variety of nutritious foods. She was living proof that hunger, which affects 15% of the world’s population, can easily be fixed. Her children now have better health and attend school regularly.
Flash forward a week and I’m back in London sharing Abadit’s story with a room full of food bloggers, (donated) champagne in hand. I pause mid-presentation and think: HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
In this room, many of these people are my friends, and in a weird crossover of my extra-curricular work as a food blogger with my professional work for Save the Children, I’m trying to explain, for the first time, what it is I do when I disappear to another continent for a week or so every few months. I’m trying to share the confidence of the people I met in Ethiopia, and most difficult of all: I’m trying to inspire others to make a difference.
When conceiving of this event, we wanted to celebrate people’s passion for food and create an opportunity to learn at the same time. With a bit of blagging from my colleague Amy, we had suddenly gathered a roster of amazing discounted food, completely donated wine, and the head chef (Danny Bohan) and Sommelier (Emily O’Hare) from The River Cafe to cook for us. We would learn about hunger, learn how to fight it and celebrate food as a glorious thing.
It was an amazing evening, and I’ve been so inspired by all the blogs and tweets I’ve seen since then. For anyone hoping to help us make sure G8 leaders put together a plan to end the scandal of hunger all together, come to The Big IF this Saturday at Hyde Park in London. Tweet about it if you can’t make it, #BigIF #ifcampaign.