40 hours without food gives taste of famine

Giving up the goods to help Malawi

IAIN SCOTT
Last updated 09:00 24/05/2014
40 hour famine
Murray Wilson/ FAIRFAX NZ
FAMIINE: World Vision youth supporter Annie Gummer speaking at Ross Intermediate School. She volunteers with World Vision going around to schools around Manawatu speaking about the famine and brainstorming ideas on how their schools can help. (left) Pupils Callum Parsons(11) , Joshua Haines(12) , Kuramaiki Whana(11) , Emma Steed (12) , listen to World Vision youth supporter Annie Gummer .

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A "massive" meal of fish, rice and veges will be the last thing Palmerston North woman Annie Gummer eats for 40 hours.

Gummer is one of more than 4500 people in the Manawatu-Whanganui region taking part in World Vision's 40-hour famine, which marks its 40th anniversary this weekend.

The lights in Palmerston North's clock tower would change to orange during the 40 hours to mark the event, council spokesman Daniel O'Regan said yesterday.

While most will be giving up food, famine participants can also choose to give up screen time or not use their mobile phone for 40 hours.

Money raised this year is going to Malawi, where extreme weather conditions have caused a food crisis.

Three in four people in the southeastern African country live on less than $1.51 a day and one in eight children die before their fifth birthday.

Not satisfied with having participated in the 40-hour famine 12 times, Gummer organised the event at Freyberg High School last year.

"This year I am volunteering with World Vision, going around schools around the Manawatu speaking about the famine, brainstorming ideas on how their schools can help, and visiting events."

She was inspired by a visit to Nepal last year, where she was exposed to poverty for the first time and wanted to do something to make a difference in the lives of people in the developing world.

She was sponsoring two children in Malawi and was planning to travel there soon.

Also wanting to help children in Malawi is Lukhan Whittfield, 11, who lives near Shannon. Lukhan us taking part in his first famine even though he has type-1 diabetes and coeliac disease.

"I'm really proud of him," mother Francine Whittfield said yesterday.

"He initiated it himself. The fact that he's thinking about somebody other than himself I think is great."

Lukhan came home from school and was enthusiastic about the idea as he wanted to help children in Malawi

She was confident he would be all right, as he would be checked regularly.

"I've spoken to his pediatric consultant . . . and I'll be testing his blood every two hours to ensure that he's fine.

"He'll have a sugar cube if his blood sugar level goes low, but other than that he won't be eating."

Gummer said she always had a "massive meal" before starting her fast, usually consisting mainly of protein and carbohydrates. This year it would be fish with rice and vegetables.

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Having done it so many times, she knew what to expect.

"You start to feel quite exhausted halfway through it, probably because of a lack of energy, but then you get to a point where it starts feeling normal."

When it ended, it was a good idea not to eat a large meal straight away, but start with small amounts of food.

World Vision chief executive Chris Clarke said more than 2.5 million New Zealanders had taken part in the fundraiser in the past four decades, raising $72 million.

"There are children alive today who owe their life to young New Zealanders and the money they raised.

"That's a pretty powerful legacy."

- Manawatu Standard

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