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15,000 gather at 30 Hour Famine Hero Rally to bring hope to the hungry (07/31/11)

On July 30-31, over 15,000 hungry participants gathered at Linkou Gymnasium for World Vision Taiwan’s 30 Hour Famine Hero Rally. Together, they fasted for 30 hours to advocate and raise support for the world’s hungry. During the two-day event, the participants embraced a series of activities including a spiritual service with hymns, educational presentations, onstage cooking lessons, and a sunset concert featuring pop stars such as Crowd Lu (盧廣仲), Cheer Chen (陳綺貞) and Wang Lee-Hom (王力宏).
 
In response to the current Horn of Africa crisis that was highlighted during the two-day event, singer Wang Lee-Hom (王力宏) donated his autographed suitcase for auction. The suitcase is a memento from his 33-month long “Music-Man” concert tour. World Vision Taiwan’s Board Member, Tiffany Huang, won the auction for a bid of NT$300,000. Proceeds from this donation will go toward World Vision’s response in the Horn of Africa.
 
This year’s Famine Ambassadors Crowd Lu (盧廣仲) and Cheer Chen (陳綺貞), together with artists Elva Hsiao (蕭雅軒), Van Ness Wu (吳建豪), Peter Ho (何潤東), Biung Wang (王宏恩) and AK (沈建宏&陳奕) also performed in the concert to salute the participants and show support for the world’s hungry.     
 
Today’s event program began with Chinese and English hymns performed by African American gospel singer Zorina London and Christian music group “Heavenly Melody,” followed by a sermon by 92-year-old Rev Chow Lien-Hwa (周聯華).
 
Earlier this morning, Famine Ambassadors Mr. Lu and Ms. Chen made an appearance to cheer up participants.
 
“I didn’t eat breakfast,” claimed Mr. Lu, an inner joke that all participants laughed at because the singer wrote a famous song to encourage people to eat breakfast.
 
Ms. Chen admitted, “I became absent minded because of hunger, but I’m also feeling an exceptional sense of refreshment.”
 
She continued, “I’m happy to be here with you all. It’s natural for everyone to be responsible for his or her own life. If we can also assume responsibilities for others, it’s the true value of humanity.”
 
Mr. Lu then added, “I believe energy flows. Together we are gathering an enormous amount of energy. Let it flow to places in need.”
 
More celebrity spokespersons and TV anchors appeared today to share stories from their visits to World Vision funded projects in developing countries earlier this year.
 
Charlene Tsao (鄒倩琳), a CtiTV anchor, shared with participants how children in Vietnam were fascinated by using cameras to record their daily life as part of a photo campaign organized by World Vision.
 
“The children who used a camera for the first time were curious about almost everything. We, who have learned so many photographic skills, have lost the most original and pure curiosity that they still hold as their best talent.”
 
“I had thought I was doing good for them. But I later realized the fact that they were the ones who gave, not me. They inspired me.”
 
Around noontime two celebrity chefs, James Jiao (詹姆士) and Wu Bing-Cheng (吳秉承) went on stage to cook five sets of “hunger relief porridge,” including seafood porridge and farmer’s eggplant. This surprising activity became a cruel challenge for participants who have already fasted for twenty-four hours and still had six hours to go.
 
When the chefs intentionally let the smell of cooked squids and shrimps float in the air and tasted the sauces in an exaggerated manner, the participants roared in strong protest.
 
“This is a bizarre experience for me to cook in front of 15,000 hungry people,” amused Chef James. The dishes were later auctioned off for NT$200,000.
 
The Taiwan ROC Little League National Baseball Team, who had just won the IBAF 12U Baseball World Championship, was welcomed with deafening screams as these national heroes entered the venue.
 
“The strong will to hold onto our dream made us win the world championship. We encourage each of you to never to give up on your dreams,” said team captain Wan Zhao-Ching (萬昭清), who is also a child supported by World Vision through child sponsorship.
 
Today a group of 500 Chinese youths from the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups joined the event and performed a special dance with a 210-meter long dragon to entertain the participants.
 
Three days ago, this group of young people coming from 19 countries and regions including Hong Kong, Macau, the US, Canada, UK, Australia and Singapore performed community service in Rinari Community, which is one of World Vision Taiwan’s Typhoon Morakot Housing project sites.
 
Calvin Chum King-Wing (覃景榮), 20, from Hong Kong, said he was moved by how the Rinari children enjoy a simple life while retaining their tribal cultures.
 
“Children in Hong Kong only watch TV or play video games. They are so well-off that they don’t cherish what they have,” Calvin said. “I’ll encourage Hong Kong youths to go out of Hong Kong, see more of this world and learn to feel for others.”
 
Two of the housing beneficiaries, Hsu Huei-Chuan (徐惠娟) and Hsu Qiang-Hui (徐強惠), made appearances to express their gratitude to donors.
 
“Famine Heroes! Without your support, I wouldn’t be able to stand in front of you now…I have only one message for you…I hope your support will be extended to every corner of the world!” said a teary-eyed Mr. Hsu Qiang-Hui (徐強惠).
 
When the Hero Rally opened yesterday, Sakate Daishi (坂手大志), a 16-year-old Japanese boy who grew up in Taichung, texted all of his friends that he would soon start fasting. Most of them responded with words like, “You are courageous! I don’t dare!” but Sakate himself was worried he may fail the challenge.
 
However, after 23 hours of fasting, Sakate realized that hunger is not unmanageable. He felt fine during lunch and dinner hours yesterday. It was only until this morning that he felt a little weird not having food.
 
Asked what he would like to do after the fast, Sakate said with confidence, “I will text my friends telling them that I’ve made it!”
 
Another participant Tung Jia-Wen (鄧嘉雯) said, “I will attend this event again and bring all my friends to come and experience!”
 
Jia-Wen, 22, is a Malaysian junior at the Tainan University of Technology who knew about the 30 Hour Famine back in her home country but never attended it due to the long distance to the location where the event was held.
 
“I was surprised by how well this event was planned and have learned throughout all the activities. I would love to participate as a volunteer in the future.”
 
Jia-Wen said she couldn’t wait to share her experience with her friends and family.
 
“It (fasting) is not as hard as we would think. Love can make everything easier and beautiful.”
 
The 30 Hour Famine boasts record high attendance year after year. In 2011, many who were late in registration could not attend the Hero Rally due to venue capacity and safety concerns. Close to 80,000 people across Taiwan completed a DIY Famine before this weekend’s event.
 

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