I want to ask you to participate in a brief exercise: Imagine what it feels like to go hungry for a day. Now, imagine what it feels like to go hungry for two days, a week, or more. For most of us this is hard – if not impossible – to comprehend, but for hundreds of millions this is a reality. Each day on this planet, as many as 25,000 children die from hunger-related issues.
Today, Monday, March 28 I will go without food. My wife, Kimberly; Heifer International President, Jo Luck; and Martha Hirpa, director of gender equity advocacy are joining me in this fast. We’re doing this to highlight the tremendous hunger and poverty that exists in the world…even today. We’re also doing it to show solidarity with Ambassador Hall and to show that for us to be truly committed to ending hunger we have to experience it.
Of course, this pales in comparison to the hunger that millions suffer every day. As you probably know, the U.S. Congress is poised to vote on a budget that puts at risk critical humanitarian and development programs which save millions of lives every year. At risk in these cuts is the forward-thinking anti-hunger and poverty program Feed the Future, which aims to bolster poor countries’ food production capabilities. This isn’t a question of charity; it’s an issue of life or death for millions of people — especially women and girls who produce most of the world’s food but suffer the greatest hunger and poverty and derive the fewest benefits.
America’s international affairs budget is a critical component of feeding millions of families and ongoing efforts that target disease, hunger, poverty, climate change and programs that help build sustainable futures for all. It’s also a critical component of global security, which becomes very unsettled with a potential rise in famine and disease. America faces an unparalleled budget deficit, but it’s critical that human health and progress not be sacrificed by shortsighted cuts to an international affairs budget that provides life-saving results with low-investment interventions.
We all have a part to play in this; it’s time to choose yours. You can take personal action on these proposed cuts by visiting www.heifer.org/TakeAction.
Pierre Ferrari, born in Africa in 1950 in what was then the Belgian Congo (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from 1971 to 1997 called Zaire), is Heifer International’s chief executive officer. Ferrari has more than 40 years of business experience, from large consumer goods organizations such as Coca-Cola USA to work with socially oriented organizations like CARE and the Small Enterprise Assistance Fund. He succeeds Heifer’s longtime President and former CEO Jo Luck. Ferrari holds a master’s degree in Economics from The University of Cambridge and a MBA from Harvard Business School. Find more of Pierre’s thoughts on ending hunger and poverty by following him on Twitter or visiting the Heifer blog.