At our Spring Gala weekend June 8th and 9th, Hunger Project activists, investors and staff joined together to celebrate courageous connections and action.
Human connection is a vulnerable exchange between people who are paying attention to one another. It has the power to deepen the moment, inspire change, build trust and transform the way we live.
In her welcoming address, the evening of June 8th at Hotel Irvine in Irvine, California, Suzanne Mayo Frindt, President and CEO of The Hunger Project, set the stage for the evening by asking investors and activists to courageously commit to a shared vision — a vision of a world of dignity and self-reliance.
“We are living in incredibly fierce times. How can you, how can I, show up, step-in, engage with uncommon courage, and answer the call? Because the time is now. It always is.”
Bringing the power of a shared vision to life, we were honored to hear from three directors of Hunger Project programs, joining us from India, Malawi, and Mexico. Each Regional Director brought the strength of their passion directly to Gala attendees, speaking from a runway stage set right amongst banquet tables. Together, they wove a tapestry of transformation, joy, courage, self-reliance and dignity that blankets the work of The Hunger Project.
Ruchi Yadav, Senior Program Director of The Hunger Project-India, shared the story of Hansa Devi, a program partner in India who’s bravery in the face of death threats saved her local forests from over-development.
“One of the quotes that Hansa said when I was talking to her, she said “We have learned not to run away. We will keep standing.” It’s important for her because she is standing in the present, she is mindful about what is happening around her today. But she is also looking to the future. She knows if we let this pillage happen, the future is gone. There is no sustainability, there is no ecosystem to breathe, to survive. That’s what Hansa is working to prevent, and that’s what 8,000 women like Hansa in India are doing, fighting for water, for dignity, against child marriage, for education, for healthcare, against hunger and poverty.”
Mackenzie Nkalapa, Director of Programs of The Hunger Project-Malawi, spoke about the bravery of Victor Kudzawe, a 44 year old man from the village of Huwa – a village of 382 people. Victor used his skills learned at a Hunger Project Vision, Commitment and Action workshop to write a grant proposal that secured supplies to build a local school.
“Today, 70 children — 24 boys and 46 girls — now have access to early childhood education due to the courage of one man: Victor Kudzawe. Victor is now a happy man. His village now has a school. But, he didn’t stop there – Today, he’s an elected official – continuing to improve the lives of his people.”
Sylvia Hernández Mortera, Program Development Support for The Hunger Project-Mexico, told the story of Paty Martinez, an indigenous woman from in Oaxaca who found her voice and advocated for her community. Paty attended a Hunger Project workshop where she learned to advocate for herself and the women in her village, and used her skills to bring water clean water collection technology to countless indigenous communities.
“Paty and the women of Cerro Alto have led a process — together they have learned how to install, maintain and fix the [rainwater collection] systems. Paty, along with other women and men from Cerro Alto have gone to other regions of Mexico and have trained other communities to do the same. There are now 120 rainwater catchment systems across the three regions of Mexico, and the number keeps growing.”
As global citizens, courageously committing to the end of hunger, we invited attendees to see what’s possible with participation in The Hunger Project. The world around us is ever evolving and The Hunger Project asks for your bold commitment to ensuring every woman, man and child leads a healthy, fulfilling life of self-reliance and dignity.
More From the Weekend
On Saturday, the Gala was preceded by a unique, interactive learning session to discover how The Hunger Project is creating large-scale alliances that empower women and men to end their own hunger, hosted by Executive Vice President, Dr. John Coonrod.
On Saturday night, the centerpiece of the weekend, Courage to Connect, featured representatives from our program countries sharing their courageous stories of collaborative leadership and self-reliance.
And on Sunday, we took the weekend experience to a deeper level by engaging in intimate “kitchen table” conversations about courage, connection, and commitment. Together, through facilitated conversations, we discovered how everyday courage can transform our lives.
Coming soon! Watch the highlights on YouTube.
Browse through the photos below, or view them on Flickr.