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30 Hour Famine Ambassadors Crowd Lu and Cheer Chen extend hand to needy (06/13/11)

Popular singer-songwriters Crowd Lu and Cheer Chen attended a press conference held by World Vision Taiwan today to share about their recent trip to the Kingdom of Swaziland in Southern Africa from June 2-8 as this year’s 30 Hour Famine Ambassadors. They called on people across Taiwan to join them at the 30 Hour Famine Hero Rally held on July 30-31, 2011 to make a difference for the world’s poor and hungry.
 
“My first impression of Swaziland was beautiful landscapes and nice weather,” said Cheer. “But many people are unable to pursue a good life as they can’t guarantee their survival for the next day.”
 
Cheer shared how she was shocked when hearing 65-year-old Josephina Ndlovu, who struggles daily to raise 11 grandchildren on her own, say ‘Hallelujah’ after she handed a lollipop to the elderly woman.
 
“I felt like crying when seeing how the taste of a little sweet brought Josephina and the children a carefree and satisfied expression to their faces.”
 
When the celebrities visited a World Vision supported Neighborhood Care Point (NCP) where children are fed two meals a day and can access informal education, a group of children surrounded Cheer to sing a hymn to bless her on her birthday; a surprise that brought her to tears.
 
Recalling the emotional moment, “These children feel grateful for having a meal a day, but they were willing to spend time celebrating my birthday, for which I was deeply thankful. What they gave me was much greater than what I gave them,” she said.
 
“I used to laugh at people who made birthday wishes for ‘world peace’ or ‘seasonable weather for a good harvest,’ but after visiting Swaziland where no rains mean no food, that’s just my wish - seasonable weather for this land-lock country.”
  
For Crowd, he reflected on how the impact of climate change has devastated the well-being of families in Swaziland. “We visited Mrs. Sibongile Mkhombe and her five grandchildren on the second day of our visit. Ten years ago, they were able to produce 750 kilograms of maize each harvest. They not only had enough food for an entire year, but also had surplus to sell. But this year they harvested only 75 kilograms. When we visited them, they had run out of food already.”
 
Crowd also noted other struggles Mrs. Sibongile and her grandchildren endure due to poor harvest yields and lack of sustainable income
 
“There’s a time lag of six hours between Swaziland and Taiwan. So it’s 6:40 am in Swaziland now. The boys (Mrs. Sibongile’s grandsons) should be on their way to school. It takes them two hours to get to school. Yet, even continuing to go to school is a big challenge for children in Swaziland because if they can’t afford to buy uniforms, the school will reject them.”
 
“There were times when I had to repress a strong desire to yell on the dried lands of Africa, ‘Hey somebody! Can somebody out there come and help them?’” said Crowd.
 
“When we connected flights from Johannesburg on our way back, it was night time. I looked out the window of the airplane and saw the Galaxy. I thought about the people I met in Swaziland and began to cry. I know I can’t make a big difference on my own. I have to spread the message: there is need in many places like Swaziland. Each of us is like a star in the Galaxy. We have to play our part to shine on the stars which are dimmer than us,” said Crowd.
 
World Vision Taiwan’s Executive Director Hank Du said, “I went to Swaziland six years ago. The situation was much worse then. The HIV prevalence rate was higher, and people seemed to have no hope. I’ve seen improvements this time, but with the growing impact of climate change, the people in Swaziland are faced with new challenges.”
 
“The food crisis is a global issue that can explode anytime,” Mr. Du added. “Our goal for the 30 Hour Famine this year is to fight and end hunger.”
 
Today the world has 925 million hungry people, 15 million children orphaned by AIDS, 4.33 million refugees and displaced, and millions more affected by natural disasters. Climate change and the resulting food crises are pushing hundreds of million people in underdeveloped countries like Swaziland deeper into poverty.
 
Through this year’s 30 Hour Famine Campaign, World Vision Taiwan aims to raise NT$182 million (US$6 million) to support emergency relief programs in 26 countries including Swaziland, Niger, Kenya, Angola, Laos, Thailand and Taiwan. From June1 through August 31, donations can be made at over 4,700 7-ELEVEN stores island-wide.
 
Also attending the press conference was Deputy Vice President of 7-ELEVEN, Gordon Wang, who highlighted the partnership between his company and World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine campaign which began in 1992. He reported that donations collected through small donations boxes and ibon machines installed at 7-ELEVEN stores has grown from NT$8.34 million in the first year to NT$27 million in 2010, totaling over NT$440 million during the 19 year partnership.
 
On July 30-31, Crowd and Cheer will attend the Famine Hero Rally in Linkou Gymnasium to share their concern for global issues, such as climate change, and how the people of Taiwan can help feed the hungry.
 
“I think the best way to pass the 30 hours is to think about the children in Swaziland. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get over the feeling hunger this way,” said Cheer.
 
To sign up for the DIY Famine or donate: www.30hf.org.tw/
 

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