Left Justified: Hunger Walk for Afghanistan and Africa
By Stanley Campbell
Its not that were starting out with those countries that begin with the letter A, but the majority of funds raised in this years CROP Hunger Walk will most likely end up in Afghanistan and Africa. The Walk is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 13, stepping off at 2 p.m. from Trinity Lutheran Church, 200 N. First Street.
A little over four miles in length, it will proceed up the Bike Path across Auburn Street Bridge, down Harlem to North Main and back via Jefferson. More than 200 walkers are expected, each raising an average of $100 apiece. Twenty-five percent right off the top stays in Rockford to support area food pantries. The rest goes to a myriad of organizations under the umbrella of Church World Service.
They started collecting money right after World War II to help devastated Europe. Farmers would donate their crops (a CROP fundraiser) and long trains took the foodstuffs east for shipment. Nowadays, every major religion has a hunger relief program. When theres a disaster, they coordinate so everything gets covered. Right now in Afghanistan, these church and religious groups are practically the only people helping. Though our country promised we would rebuild after pounding the rubble, weve yet to give any tax money. But people are starving now. Schools need to be rebuilt now.
Hospitals need to be staffed now. Church World Service will be transitioning from relief to long-term rehabilitation activities in Afghanistan. The new focus will be shelter reconstruction and income generation programs, according to Emergency Response Program Director Rick Augsburger and Associate Director Donna Derr.
If you want to help the Afghani people stave off starvation this winter, and get ahead of the Stone Age, please sponsor a Hunger Walker or walk yourself. The second place that most needs help is Africa, especially in fighting AIDS. CWS supports the Sinikithemba HIV/AIDS Care Center in Durban, South Africa. HIV testing and counseling support for HIV+ pregnant women and mothers is provided. They are also given pastoral and bereavement counseling, and education through support groups for HIV infected people.
In the African country of Malawi, CWS helps to provide corn for food and next-season planting for 37,500 farming families. CWS is also providing a highly nutritious cereal mix for 17,000 severely malnourished children, along with nutrition education for their mothers.
An eight-year-old boy named James ran away from his village in Sudan to avoid being hurt by bombs. His country was being torn by a civil war. More than 10,000 Sudanese boys ran away from their villages to avoid the bombs. Gradually, they banded together to look for a safe place. They had no food, water or adults to help them. They walked thousands of miles over several years. Those who survived made it to a refugee camp in Kenya, where they received help from CWS and other groups. Today, James and some of the other boys, now grown into young men, are finding new homes in the United States, thanks to CWS and caring congregations that assist in their resettlement.
Church World Service is very active in practically every country and works with every religious group. Give me a call at Rockford Urban Ministries if you can walk and want a sponsor record, or make any donation out to Rockford Hunger Walk and mail to 623 7th Street, Rockford, IL 61104.
For more information, call (815) 964-7111. It should be a beautiful fall day, and you are more than welcome to join us.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.