New Zealand's largest youth fundraising event, the World Vision 40 Hour Famine, is back for its 45th year, with close to 1000 Waikato students set to take on a challenge or give something up – and it's all in the name of supporting climate vulnerable communities in Malawi.
Spread across 40 hours from Friday to Sunday, June 5-7, in all 90,000 New Zealand youth are expected to take part and raise much-needed funds for the people of Malawi who are experiencing the chaos caused by extreme weather events, like droughts, cyclones and floods, that are resulting in food shortages, hunger and malnutrition.
On top of this, COVID-19 has brought with it added pressure for these communities.
This year, five Kiwi Youth Ambassadors – Izaac Wilson, Jess McLennan, Alyssa Wilson, Daniel Rickman and Hayley Gotlieb – are championing the 40 Hour Famine, having travelled to Malawi in late 2019 to meet some of those who will benefit from the efforts of everyone taking part; children, families, schools and farmers.
"I don't think there was really any one moment when it just clicked for me that 'this is the reality of living in Malawi in 2020', but it has sunk in a little more every single day since I've been back in New Zealand," says McLennan.
"It's in the everyday moments that I think about everyone I met and what I saw in Malawi, like when I look at my mum cooking dinner and think to myself, 'I wonder if Prisca's mum has enough has food to cook meals for her kids today?' Or when I pull veggies out of the fridge and think to myself, 'I hope Yohane's family have had a good harvest, so they have food to eat'," she says.
"I know that every single person who signs up for the 40 Hour Famine, and the money they raise, will help create real and actual change for the climate vulnerable Malawians who need it most."
World Vision New Zealand national director Grant Bayldon says the 40 Hour Famine is a calendar item he looks forward to each year, adding that this year it seems all the more crucial for the charity organisation to provide a platform for NZ youth to rally together and make change.
"As the world shifts, the challenges Malawians face remain – and this means now, more than ever, we need to do all we can to fight hunger and injustice.
"This is our chance to show the world what great global neighbours we can be. As we do what we can for the vulnerable here, let's also do what we can for the most vulnerable around the world."
Grant adds that he's 'really looking forward to seeing what challenges people take on, or what things they choose to give up for 40 hours, in order to make a life-changing difference for the people of Malawi'.
"The people of Malawi are facing a twin crisis: As they struggle with the impacts of climate change, they face the added pressures of COVID-19. They need our support more than ever."
Money raised in the 2020 40 Hour Famine will make a difference by providing schools and farmers with seeds for crops, watering systems and goats so the people of Malawi can build resilient and sustainable farming and reduce the impact of climate change on their communities.
This important work will also ensure they're able to better cope with external factors out of their control, be it extreme weather events or a new virulent virus.
Those who take part can choose their own challenge or select something to give up – like going without transport, furniture or technology – and ask people to support their efforts by donating.
Sign up today at famine.org.nz