Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lettuce seeds

Lettuce seeds are tiny. Really tiny. Mere specks on the palm of your hand.

This is something that I think about every spring as I start to plant my salad greens. The delicious leaves of green and purplish red that grace our salads started out as tiny, almost insignificant specks.

While it takes fertile soil, a little water and daily care to make the salad garden thrive, one can still marvel at how it all started with a bunch minute seeds. (Yes, this is a picture of my garden taken just this morning).

My other thought is that you don't have to be an expert to plant these seeds. All it takes is the will to plant the garden.

This brings me to David Tichnell, a teacher at Holy Ghost Catholic School in Albuquerque, who decided he wanted to plant some seeds among student at Holy Ghost. He and other faculty members decided to involve pupils from kindergarten to eighth grade in a
program called Kids Against Hunger.

One of the main purposes of the program is to involve school children in a global feeding effort. The children raise money, helping in the packaging of commodities, and learn about the people and regions they are helping. "Knowing that everyone can have an impact, the Kids Against Hunger program has been created to give people an opportunity to have a hands-on experience in feeding the world," the organization says in its web site.

The school's efforts to raise consciousness about hunger among its students were featured in the Albuquerque Journal, in an article entitled, Youngsters Raise $9,000 for Kids Against Hunger.

The kids at Holy Ghost not only helped with packaging of rice, dried soy and dried vegetables into plastic bags for shipment to poor countries, but Tichnell and other faculty members used the occasion to have the kids in the school think about their lifestyles and how a few changes could go a long way in helping in the fight against hunger.

The children collected spare change--coins as well as dollars bills--and brought it to school in plastic jugs. The money probably came from their allowances.

"We asked them to rethink how they spent their money," Tichnell t
old the Albuquerque Journal. "We said, 'instead of buying that new CD, use that money to feed the hungry.' ''

During one lunch period, students were also exposed to a
Hunger Banquet, an excercise used by Oxfam and other organizations to illustrate the extreme inequities in distribution of food and resources at the global level.

Principal Noreen Duffy Copeland told the Albuquerque Journal that this was an effort to show the students at Holy Ghost what it like to be hungry when others have plenty to eat. A very small number of the 200 students (perhaps fewer than 10) were assigned to a table that featured grilled chicken, vegetables and ice cream. A few others were assigned to a table with rice and beans. The majority of the students ended up at an empty table.

The excercise appears to have worked. Many students who sat at the empty table were not happy about the situation. Perhaps this awareness planted a "lettuce seed" that will blossom into further action on behalf of the hungry in the world

The "lettuce seeds" also appear to have taken root in a positive form. "It gives us pride and respect for our teachers and our community to be able to do this," 14-year-old Katie-Jane Widner told the Albuquerque Journal.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Join us for Hunger Awareness Day at UNM

Thursday, April 19
University of New Mexico
Student Union Building Ballroom A
10:30 AM-4:00 PM

Join us for a day of awareness on poverty and hunger issues in New Mexico



New Mexico has the highest rate of food insecurity in the United States. We rank 5th in child poverty and 9th for elderly in poverty. These are our neighbors, our classmates, our grandparents, the person sitting next to you on the bus. Maybe it’s you.


Panel Discussion with local hunger and poverty experts
Lisa LaBrecque, Coalition to End Homelessness
Mary Oleske, Family Nutrition Bureau (State of New Mexico)
Janet Page Reeves, NM Association of Food Banks
Larry Waldman, UNM Bureau of Business and Economic Research
Mark Winne, Community Food Security Coalition

2:00 PM

N.M. State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino discusses the working families tax credit.

Throughout the day
Watch informative films and talk to representatives from student and community organizations, who will discuss different programs to alleviate hunger and poverty in New Mexico.

Come learn the facts, find out what's happening in your community and how you can help or get help....

Panza llena, corazon contento (Full belly, happy heart)

Sponsored by:
UNM Nutrition Club
NMPIRG Student Chapter
Bread for the World-New Mexico

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bicycles for Kenya (and a fundraiser for Kisesini Health Clinic)


By Laura Casselman

What if you built a health clinic in a rural community and your health workers could not get to the clinic? We'll get to that point later.

First, let's talk about the clinic.

Global Health Partnerships, a new non-profit organization based in Albuquerque,
is working on a project with a women's basket-making cooperative in the Kisesini region of Kenya. The partnership is building a health center centrally located within one day's walking distance from several rural villages.

In Kenya more than 50% of the population lives in extreme poverty, defined as less than $1 per day. One of every nine children dies before age 5, mostly from preventable causes like malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. There are simple and inexpensive ways to prevent and treat these maladies: mosquito nets and medicine for malaria, antibiotics for pneumonia, and oral rehydration solution for diarrhea. Since one third of the children also suffer from malnutrition, improving nutrition and sanitation are also being addressed.

The Kisesini clinic is just one of many possible projects for GHP. The organization, comprised of medical professionals and other volunteers, will be looking for opportunities to work in partnership with local health providers and grassroots community organizations to improve the health and well being of the poor and marginalized peoples throughout the world. GHP provides direct medical services, delivers medical supplies and equipment, and trains local health workers.

Fundraiser on June 23
On Saturday, June 23, there will be a fund raiser for GHP and the Kisesini clinic at the
Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, 202 Harvard SE. It should be a fun and informative evening. Still in the planning, there will be African entertainment and Kenyan speakers.

Dr. Angelo
Tomedi, the founder of GHP, will speak about the clinic's progress. He and other medical professionals have already gone to Kisesini to begin the training of the health workers. Donations will be used to finish the clinic (exterior walls are up), purchase supplies and medicine and continue the training. Tickets for the event will be sold at Peacecraft starting in June.

How else can you help? Donations are already being collected and sent to
Global Health Partnerships, PO BOX 4385, Albuquerque, NM 87196.

Is Your Old Bike Going to Kenya?
Now, here's the answer to the question about transportation for health workers. Besides training and medical supplies there is one other thing the health workers need: bicycles to travel between the villages and the clinic. If you would like to send your bike to Kenya so a health worker can get around, just bring it to PeaceCraft at 3215 Central NE. Of course bikes and other donations are tax deductible and you will be sent a receipt.

old bike is going to Kenya. How about yours?

The author is involved with The ONE Campaign in Albuquerque.