It’s Time for THP! Highlights of Our Annual Gala
On October 24-25, 2009, more than 400 people gathered from 20 countries around the world to participate in THP's annual weekend of events under the theme, "It's Time! Scaling Up THP to Achieve a Hunger-Free Future."
The highlight of the weekend was the gala cocktail reception and program on Saturday evening, featuring: renowned author and philosopher, Peter Singer; Jill Lester, THP's President and CEO; Margarita Ruiz, an indigenous woman from Mexico who serves as THP's State Coordinator in Chiapas; and music by Baye Kouyaté.
Peter Singer focused on the message of his recent book, The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty, in which he writes about our moral obligation to fight world hunger and poverty. Prof. Singer shared a story asking what one would do if they passed by a small child drowning in a pond, and compared it to that of reaching out to helping those living in hunger and poverty across the world.
Jill Lester stressed how it is indeed, THP's time, to scale up our work as never before. With every passing moment, more of our fellow human beings are being pushed deeper into hunger and poverty, she said. World leaders are making commitments consistent with THP's approach and THP knows how to truly make this a hunger-free world. Jill closed by saying, "We are indeed one another's harvest...and we can yield a more plentiful and abundant harvest for the future...It's time!" (Read full remarks.)
Margarita Ruiz spoke of growing up in a world where women's opinions were not valued, and how she learned to read and write and battle cultural barriers to fight for herself and other women in her community. She vowed, "We will end hunger step by step and quickly with respect, dignity, trust, confidence, emotion and appreciation." (Read full remarks. Watch video excerpt.)
The evening closed with music by Malian talking drum master, Baye Kouyaté, and his accompanying band. Guests very much enjoyed the beautiful waterfront view and delicious hors d'oevures at the new venue for THP's annual event, The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers.
An event entitled "Ensuring Food and Nutrition Security for All: A Special Presentation on The Hunger Project's Unique Approach" kicked off the weekend earlier on Saturday. It featured THP Country Directors from Burkina Faso, Senegal and India - Idrissa Dicko, Madeleine Cisse and Rita Sarin.
- Dr. Dicko spoke about how THP-Burkina uses microdosing (the application of small quantities of fertilizer to enhance efficiency and improve yields) and a newly created warrantage system (through which a micro-credit scheme provides credit to partner farmers against grain harvests stored in a secured local depot).
- Ms. Cissé spoke about THP-Senegal's Food Security Access Support Program, which provides seeds and fertilizer to poor farmers and asks them to repay in grains to the food bank, which is then sold during the lean period.
- Rita Sarin called the audience's attention to the fact that though India has a surplus of food production, it has the largest number of hungry people in the world and safety net programs often fail to reach the poorest of the poor. THP-India works with elected women leaders to educate the people on the government programs available and help ensure that the people gain access to what is rightfully theirs.
The weekend of festivities ended with THP's Annual General Meeting, in which Jill Lester and several leadership staff shared the highlights of their innovations in 2009 as well as plans for 2010.
Rowlands Kaotcha, Country Director of THP-Malawi highlighted THP's HIV/AIDS program there, which aims to improve access and use of preventative and treatment services, improve access to support services for those affected by HIV/AIDS, reduce vulnerability of adolescent girls and women to HIV/AIDS, and serve as a platform for advocacy and dissemination.
Badiul Majumdar, Country Director of THP-Bangladesh featured their Youth Ending Hunger Program, which has mobilized more than 100,000 young people to instill in them social responsibility and help them to launch social action initiatives such as math and science programs, blood drives, campaigns against child marriage and so forth.