Suzanne Mayo Frindt joined The Hunger Project as President & CEO in May 2017. THP UK sat down with Suzanne to chat about her journey to The Hunger Project and the transformative work undertaken by The Hunger Project and our partners.
Tell us about your journey to The Hunger Project. How did you become involved with the organisation and what inspires you?
I became aware of The Hunger Project through my husband Dwight who was a Hunger Project volunteer and activist, and who joined The Hunger Project movement at the absolute beginning.
What inspired me was The Hunger Project’s mission to end world hunger. This was not simply alleviating poverty, but that breakthrough thinking, that change in mindset: what is it going to take to end hunger once and for all.
What connects me at the heart level is that The Hunger Project is a transformational organisation, rather than alleviating poverty. We are working to end hunger, to end a condition that is unacceptable for us and to create the world that we want to live in.
One of the key pillars of The Hunger Project’s work is the empowerment of women and girls. How are women key to the end of hunger?
The evidence, the data, is there, it makes scientific and numeric sense: women are key change agents in the end of world hunger. But just because something is known, doesn’t mean it is practised, which is why we need to keep working and talking about the empowerment of women and girls.
The Hunger Project’s training with women focusses on “selfhood”. Some of the women that I’ve met as part of my visits to The Hunger Project’s programmes didn’t know themselves as their own human beings. They were so and so’s mother, or so and so’s wife. Our trainings, the Vision, Commitment and Action Workshop help them to begin to think of themselves and their own identities, and tap into their own power.
“Before THP [The Hunger Project], my vision was obscured. I thought I was worthless and that there was nothing else in the future for me. But now my life has changed. I realize that I am a worthy person, I consider myself proudly indigenous and I know that I am worth a lot”
-Florencia, The Hunger Project Partner, Mexico
You have been an investor in The Hunger Project for 28 years, how has it transformed your life?
When you invest in The Hunger Project, you are investing in transformation. You are investing in the power of others to transform their lives, but the transformation happens to you too.
On a visit to Bangladesh I saw how much courage it took for some of the women to come out of their homes to meet us. It was courageous because cultural traditions meant that many were not used to meeting with strangers, or were hardly engaged in local society and rarely left their homes. Their courage inspired me to take a step up in my own life, how could I be a wimp when I’d seen their courage? So I tried to mirror it, in my own way, and demand of myself that I become a true transform partner. I didn’t invest in transformation for my own transformation, but in doing so, I have become transformed myself, and the path has led me to becoming the Global CEO of The Hunger Project!
What would be your final thought for people reading this?
We are living in a world where there is so much polarisation. Ending hunger can only happen through partnership and inclusion. We must come together as a world community to solve a world issue.
We see time and time again when crises occur how we all come together, putting aside differences of opinion or “sub-group issues” to focus on a bigger shared vision. We all want the end of hunger, all of us, no matter who we are. When we all focus on a bigger visionary, aspirational aspect, and “look up and out”, up, and outside of ourselves, we are able to achieve that shared vision.