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July updates on the COVID-19 situation in our Program Countries 

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More than 18 months after COVID-19 emerged as a once in a lifetime, worldwide challenge, the pandemic is still an ongoing concern in all our Program Countries across Africa, India and Bangladesh, as well as in our offices in Australia. 

The Hunger Project Australia is in regular communication with our teams on the ground, delivering updates from our communities and Village Partners.  

We strive to share with our community in Australia up-to-date and above all accurate information about the current situation on the village frontlines.  

Africa 

Across the continent, Africa is currently experiencing a third wave of COVID-19. New weekly cases have now exceeded the peak of the second wave which began in January of this year. While the vaccine rollout did start in some African countries, only 2% of the continent’s adult population has been fully vaccinated. 

To date, 23 countries in Africa are experiencing this surge of COVID cases, including our Program Countries of Uganda, Zambia, Senegal and Malawi. 

Uganda is so far one of the worst-affected countries during this third wave, and they are currently in a national lockdown to curb the spread of COVID. Rural communities are being impacted but it is hard to tell what the full depth of the situation is because testing numbers in rural areas are lower than rates in the cities.  

Zambia has re-introduced COVID-19 restrictions after the rise in daily cases, peaking at over 3,000 cases a day in mid-July. This has included the closure of schools, limits on some public gatherings, and mask-wearing and social distancing on public transport. So far the virus has been contained in the cities and has not reached rural areas; because of this, our Epicentre work can continue with strict COVID-safe measures in place.  

Senegal is one of the more recent countries to begin experiencing the third wave. The team at The Hunger Project Senegal are working remotely now and have been a leading voice in a vaccine-promotion campaign.  

Cases in Malawi have started to increase, and the government has re-introduced restrictions, including a nightly curfew, limits on public gatherings, international border restrictions, mandatory mask-wearing, and restrictions on workplaces.  

Benin is still reporting very few COVID cases and thus far is not experiencing a third wave yet.  

Similarly, cases are still low in Ghana– though there has been a slight daily increase in cases in Ghana over the past couple of weeks.  

South Asia 

India has moved past the peak in cases that was seen in April and May, and COVID-19 case numbers and deaths are now declining. There are still a number of cases and deaths across the country, but the rate of spread has decreased immensely. Vaccination rates are increasing but there are fears of another wave of infections if vaccinations aren’t delivered out into rural areas. 

Bangladesh has unfortunately experienced its own second wave, with cases reaching a high of over 13,000 cases a day in the past week alone. To curb the spread of cases, the country instituted its most strict, military-enforced lockdown, only allowing people to leave their houses for emergencies and to buy essential items, with all public transport, non-essential shops, and offices closed. Lockdown is scheduled to be lifted in time for the country’s second-largest religious festival, Eid al-Adha, which takes place from 20 July – July 22. There are concerns that this could lead to a huge increase in cases. 

You can keep up to date with The Hunger Project on social media or sign up to our email newsletters. You can also give now to The Hunger Project’s work in building stronger communities across Africa, India and Bangladesh.  

The Hunger Project has a new look! 

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We are excited about our new logo!

The Hunger Project is excited to share our updated new look globally. As we scale up for the end of hunger, it’s important that we are working together as “one THP”. This consistent use of branding is one way that we will be united in our work. 

You may have already noticed that we’re using it in this e-newsletter – including a refreshed logo and beautiful new fonts and colour scheme. This will be used across all Program and Partner countries. 

We’ll be rolling out the look across our website, reports, social media and other communications over the coming months. This is an exciting time for us globally, and we hope you share our excitement about the refresh too.  

Rest assured that The Hunger Project remains committed to the same goal we’ve always had –  of ending hunger – now supported by powerful, updated branding. 

Take action for the end of hunger:

  1. Invest in people with a one-off or monthly gift to The Hunger Project
  2. Join us in Malawi and unlock your possibility, potential and purpose
  3. Sign up for our email newsletters

Farmer by trade and tradition; generous by nature 

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The power of The Hunger Project is driven in large part by the generosity of investors in Australia and globally – strategically paired with the time and energy invested by our village partners. Ivan Halbert has been investing in THP consistently for more than 20 years, and recently gave his largest investment ever. We spoke to Ivan from his humble one-bedroom flat in Perth about his lifelong commitment to The Hunger Project.

Originally coming across the work of The Hunger Project in 1995, Ivan immediately knew it was something he wanted to be involved in.

The Hunger Project Australia CEO, Melanie Noden, with Ivan Halbert

“I thought it was a good program and it fit with my ideas of giving back to the world,” Ivan said.

“My thinking on giving internationally is that if all the countries The Hunger Project works in reach self-reliance and improve their local conditions, then the whole world improves.”

Ivan is a farmer by trade and tradition, but he pressed pause on his life on the land to open a health and wellbeing retreat with his wife. They ran this for 10 years and, throughout that time, The Hunger Project remained a big part of Ivan’s life.

“Being part of The Hunger Project was integral to my family’s upbringing. It first started with my wife and I, and then on to my daughters, who have been involved in The Hunger Project’s work as well. It has just been a big element of my life,” Ivan said.

He said his family’s charitable heart and his established hard working ethic has influenced his lifetime of investment in organisations like The Hunger Project.

“I became partners with my dad on our farm and I carried on with it for years. It was a very large farm and I feel I was very privileged to have owned it,” Ivan said.

“Giving was part of my upbringing. My dad and my mum were very generous; generosity was bred into me.”

Deborah Protter (THP WA Board Member), Melanie Noden (THPA CEO) and Ivan Halbert.

A few years ago, Ivan was in Uganda on a personal visit. His experiences in Africa cemented in his mind why the work of The Hunger Project is so important.

“I was talking to a taxi driver in Uganda and I told him I was involved in The Hunger Project. After that, he completely opened up and took me around to see the level of poverty. I went to a quarry where children as young as five were working and smashing rocks all day,” Ivan said.

“Seeing the levels of hunger and poverty firsthand was eye-opening.”

Reflecting on why he has chosen to invest in The Hunger Project for more than two decades, Ivan said the level of transparency and effectiveness makes investing in THP worthwhile.

“The ethos of the Hunger Project of training the local people to lift themselves from their current situation to see the possibility of rising above “what is” to a new level of life is inspirational. It’s not about giving money; it’s about giving skills,” he said.

“Another thing for me is that The Hunger Project’s program work is virtually run by volunteers. When I give a dollar, I know that a majority of that will go directly to the people who require it. It is important that the money goes directly to where it should be going.”

The Hunger Project Australia thanks Ivan and his family for their dedication and generosity throughout the past 20 years, and acknowledges the enormous impact they have had as a result.

Join Ivan and his family in the efforts to end hunger:

Hitting new milestones

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190+ people over the past five years have raised more than $2.1 million through participating in THP’s unique individual leadership immersion programs in Uganda, Malawi, Senegal, Ghana, India and Bangladesh. Breaking the $2 million mark for the first time is cause for celebration! This is an enormous collective effort, and these funds translate into real, tangible change for our village partners. The impact of that amount could look like this*:

 

From the everyday to the unfamiliar

The immersion programs lift participants out of their everyday lives and transplant them into an unfamiliar environment, full of new ideas and possibilities. No matter which country the program takes them to, participants meet THP village partners, and explore how they mobilise their rural communities to powerfully overcome the challenges of a lack of food, resources, healthcare and education.

Australian program participants are encouraged to discover the leadership distinctions demonstrated by our village partners, and apply those learnings to their own lives – often discovering in the process that we have a lot more in common with someone from a remote village in Uganda or India than you first may think.

Reflections

This is what three of the 190+ program participants had to say when reflecting on their own immersion experience:

“The experience I gained is to step forward, make a commitment and stand tall in what I believe in. I learnt these skills from the women within the group, the program facilitators, the women and men we met in the villages. It all showed me that anything is achievable with the right mindset.”
Melinda Webb

“The villagers – women, men and children – have taught me optimism and strength, resilience and vulnerability. Even on their different levels of reliance, the women showed courage in moving forward with what they had – and not what they wanted or needed. And instead of self-indulgence, they are quick to act and lead when opportunity presents itself.”
Evelyn Gibson

“Women who had little resources and extremely challenging living conditions were doing amazing things and living joyful and fulfilling lives, providing outstanding role models to others, and creating opportunities for their families and communities for many generations to come. This was extremely humbling and made me reflect deeply on my life and my fears.”
Jackie Howard

*Funds are applied to the area of greatest need.

Interested in knowing more about our immersion programs?

Positive results in Bangladesh

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One of the programs run by THP in Bangladesh builds the capacity of elected women, focused on two core areas: 1) to challenge gender inequality and violence against women, and 2) enabling women to effectively participate in local politics.

The program – called POWER for Political Participation for Women for Equal Rights – raises awareness about the patriarchal and traditional structures that reinforce routine human rights violations faced by women.

Shifting mindsets over time

A new survey conducted in almost 550 households in the Khulna district where the capacity building work was carried out showed that the POWER program has resulted in significant, positive shifts in mindset and behaviour – within just a 2-year period*. For example, the survey found:

*Comparing 2015 (baseline) and 2017 (endline) data from 542 households. Respondents included women and men.

Community empowerment

The survey also found that as a result of THP’s capacity building interventions, community members reported engaging in elections and local cooperatives, feeling a sense of agency to change things, and feeling satisfied with local services and institutions. For example:

This newfound sense of collective community empowerment is evident in the story of Rumi, a 14 year old girl who was taken out of school and nearly forced into a child marriage – learn more about Rumi’s inspirational story HERE .

What’s next?

The survey also identified areas that still require attention – for current work in the Khulna district and for future scale up of the POWER program in other districts. THP Bangladesh is looking at the survey’s recommendations and will incorporate them into future program planning and interventions. The survey identified for example:

A snapshot of our work in Bangladesh:

 

Be part of shifting mindsets and community empowerment in Bangladesh:

Mpingo Epicentre makes history

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The Hunger Project’s Mpingo Epicentre community is the third community in Malawi to reach self-reliance. What’s most exciting about this news is that all three of these communities in Malawi have been funded by Australians.

The 11,835 people of Mpingo have partnered with The Hunger Project since 2003 – and with the Eureka Benevolent Foundation since 2015.

There are 3 criteria an Epicentre must achieve in order to be declared self-reliant. Mpingo has achieved all three of them with flying colours:

1) The first criteria required is to have legal recognition as a community development organisation in their own right (separate to The Hunger Project).

2) The second criteria required is a title deed for the property on which the Epicentre building is constructed.

3) The third criteria required is to have a minimum self-reliance score of 80% based on their achievements on 53 measures.

Their future: As a result, the community declared themselves self-reliant, and Then Hunger Project is able to withdraw – and focus our attention on bringing other communities to self-reliance.

Results at Mpingo

Since reaching self-reliance Mpingo has achieved some amazing results across the board in terms of health, education and community engagement.

95% of births are attended by a licensed health care professional.

94% of households have at least one literate person.

90% of farmers are using improved farming methods.

88% of individuals are aware of their HIV status.

84% of children age 4 to 18 are attending school.

84% of individuals now believe they have the ability to implement change.

You can read more about the Mpingo Epicentre and much more in our 2017 Annual Report.

3 things that will end hunger for good

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The Hunger Project’s innovative and holistic approach to ending world hunger calls for the empowerment of rural communities in India, Africa and Bangladesh to take charge of their own development, transform entrenched harmful traditional practices and beliefs, and be active citizens who know their rights and hold government to account.

All of our programs – while adapted to meet local opportunities and challenges – share three essential things that will end hunger for good:

1) Start by empowering women as key change agents

The vast majority of people living in hunger and poverty are women. Women bear almost all responsibility for meeting the basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfil this responsibility.

Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. That’s why we focus on building the capacity of women.

2) Mobilise entire communities into self-reliant action

Our aim is to overcome the deep resignation within people living in hunger, and awaken them to the possibility of a different future, one free from hunger. We build people’s knowledge, skills and leadership, so they can take action to improve their own communities.

3) Foster effective partnerships to engage local government 

We work in partnership with local government bodies to ensure that they are effective, include women in leadership positions, are directly accountable to local people, and provide access to resources and information. We also educate and encourage communities to demand what they’re entitled to from their governments, including services, resources and financial schemes and benefits.

You can read more in our 2017 Global Investor Report.

 

Mouthful Magazine & The Hunger Project

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The Hunger Project is thrilled to announce our new partnership with monthly digital mag, Mouthful Magazine.

For each annual subscription, Mouthful Magazine will kindly donate $5 to The Hunger Project Australia.

In their 6th issue the team at Mouthful Magazine wrote about why they’ve decided to partner with The Hunger Project.

“There is enough food in the world to feed each and every one of us, yet millions go to bed starving every night. This is untenable. I wanted to do something about it so I went looking for an organisation that addressed this in a pro-active way – not just throwing money at the problem, because that never works. After much research and study I came across The Hunger Project and I realised I found ’the one’.” – Mouthful Magazine, Issue 6.

Read more about the partnership with Mouthful Magazine or visit their website for more info on subscriptions. 

 

 

Five minutes with THP Global CEO, Suzanne Mayo Frindt

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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.

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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.

Three Epicentres reach self-reliance targets

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Three Epicentres in Africa have declared self-reliance – meaning the communities have demonstrated the confidence, capacity and skills to act as agents of their own development… an amazing achievement.

Mesqan Epicentre in Ethiopia –  An outstanding example of the progress made in the community is that the prevalence of diarrhea in children under 5 decreased by 37%, to only 7% of children, thanks to work by trained volunteers to raise community awareness and increase access to safe water and sanitation. Congratulations to our partners at Mesqan Epicentre and our team in Ethiopia!

Kiboga Epicentre in Uganda –  There was an 86% decrease in the proportion of households in extreme poverty since the time of construction. Congratulations to our partners at Kiboga Epicentre and the team in Uganda!

Zakpota Epicentre in Benin  – The Zakpota community in Benin have successfully reduced hunger by 96% in the past 4 years! Congratulations to our partners at Zakpota Epicentre.

When people are empowered to become the solution to their own problems they emerge as courageous, innovative, leaders who create sustainable and lasting changes in their communities.

Image credit: Johannes Odé

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