Tag Archives: Philippines

two million meals…and counting!

I am currently in Birmingham, Alabama where I have had the privilege of helping celebrate a huge milestone at Canterbury United Methodist Church. The story from a recent Stop Hunger Now Staff Update tells the story.

Volunteer Highlight – First MPE host to reach 2 million meals!  

This Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, 3,000 volunteers from the Birmingham, AL community will package 500,000 meals for people in need around the world. That meal-packaging blitz will bring to two million the number of meals that over 8,000 volunteers from those churches have prepared in partnership with Stop Hunger Now since 2011.

 Canterbury UMC has led the charge in partnership with other Birmingham churches, Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, St. Stephens Episcopal Church, and Brookwood Baptist Church in Birmingham. The meals packaged over the past 5 years have been shipped to Honduras, Haiti, Azerbaijan, Zambia and the Philippines.  

 Join us in celebrating this huge milestone for our team and our committed MPE partners in Birmingham!  

 Check out their video from last year’s event.  http://vimeo.com/89150093

What the update cannot completely convey is the sense of excitement and the deep commitment all the members of Canterbury have for partnering to feed hungry children around the world. Last year, a group of five women from the church even travelled to Haiti to see the meals they had packaged being distributed.

And now a couple of their partner churches have decided to do their own 500,000 meal events! What a powerful example of love in action. Canterbury United Methodist Church’s commitment to feeding the hungry is a powerful demonstration of living out the gospel.

working together around the world

A little later this morning I will leave home to travel to Birmingham, Alabama to take part in a special celebration and milestone event at Canterbury United Methodist Church. They are hosting their fourth meal packaging event. And while that is cause for celebration, an even bigger reason to celebrate is that they are achieving a wonderful distinction. More about that in tomorrow’s post.

Below are some more exciting facts taken from the latest Stop Hunger Now weekly staff update.

Did you know?

The Stop Hunger Now team DOUBLED our international meal packaging to 6.4 million  in 2014, thanks to an awesome team effort!

Check out some of the highlights…maybe you were there!

  • Hewlett-Packard engaged 5,000 employee volunteers in packaging 1.4 million meals in 10 countries!

  • Rotarians packaged 30,000 meals at the 2014 Rotary International Conference in Sydney, Australia, sponsored by Zambrero

  • More than 5,000 volunteers (including Graca Machel) packaged 848,681 meals for Mandela Day in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa

  • HSBC Bank packaged more than 192,000 meals with Stop Hunger Now Philippines

  • SanDisk volunteers packaged more than 300,000 meals in our first event in Shanghai, China facilitated by Stop Hunger Now Malaysia

 Stay tuned,  we are opening two new Affiliate offices in India and Peru.  Through the establishment of Affiliate offices, Stop Hunger Now has a distinctive ability to have a sustainable impact, harnessing the collective energies of populations around the world in the fight against hunger.

 

it’s all about Juggaar

Allen Renquist, Andrew Sullivan and I are still in Bangalore, India, arriving here in the wee morning hours this past Sunday after a brutally long trip from the Philippines.  Every day has been full of meetings as we work to get Stop Hunger Now India officially started, but with every meeting it is becoming more apparent that the heavy lifting has already been accomplished.

Every person we have met, every corporate executive, every Rotarian, every volunteer, every implementing partner; all are already making it happen. Everyone has demonstrated that they are not only totally committed to establishing the first Stop Hunger Now office in India, but they want to be leaders in the fight to end hunger here and around the world.

What is so beautifully obvious is that our work here has been established on a solid foundation of relationships, respect and juggaar. From our very first packaging event last December to the present, everyone involved with Stop Hunger Now has demonstrated this powerful trait that has already become my new favorite word.

Juggaar,  (or more commonly Jugaad) is a colloquial Hindu word that means an innovative fix, or for solutions that bend rules, or a resource that can be used as such, or even a person who can solve a complicated issue. It is often used to signify creativity to make existing things work or to create new things with meagre resources. It especially expresses the need to do what needs to be done, without regard to what is conventionally supposed to be possible.

Juggaar is a perfect description for the “can do/will do whatever it takes” attitude of all the dedicated folks that are committed to helping Stop Hunger Now create a global movement to end hunger here in Bangalore. I have already started calling all our supporters here TEAM JUGGAAR.

Stay tuned. Bangalore is going to be the center of some exciting activities as this group of leaders continues to do whatever it takes to end hunger in India.

 

 

Jordan Guernsey: loss of a hero

I am currently in Manila with Allen Renquist and Andrew Sullivan. We are here to to thank all our Stop Hunger Now Philippines friends and supporters and take part in the induction of the new Board of Trustees for the organization. We leave here on Sunday to go to Bangalore, India to help facilitate the opening of a new Stop Hunger Now office there.

What should be a totally positive trip has had a pall cast over it for us, especially me. While enroute to the Philippines we learned that Stop Hunger Now friend and supporter, Jordan Guernsey had lost his ongoing battle with cancer. This is a blow to all of us. Jordan was our friend. His life was too short.

What made the news of Jordan’s loss cut even deeper was that the last time Allen and I were in the Philippines Jordan was with us. We were responding to Super Typhoon Haiyan and Jordan was part of our team.

Jordan and I met at the Sundance Film Festival a couple years ago. I spoke at an EO Banquet and he was in the audience. After my presentation he and his lovely wife, Paola, came up to talk. Jordan’s enthusiasm, optimism, and love of life couldn’t be hid. It was immediately obvious the two of us were kindred spirits and reading from the same script.

His first words were, “You are the first speaker I have ever heard that really understands that we really can change the world.” That was Jordan. He had an unwavering belief in the power of living every day to the fullest, doing everything possible to make a real and positive difference in the world, and truly believed that by working together we can end hunger in our lifetime.

We were instant friends. Jordan immediately began supporting Stop Hunger Now, and was instrumental in opening our office in Salt Lake City. The entire time I knew him he was battling cancer, yet he never slowed down in his efforts to impact the needs he saw around him. Financially successful at an early age, Jordan realized the difference between success and significance.

Jordan’s optimism was infectious. His love and compassion were genuine. He understood that by working together we can achieve our shared vision of far better world. And even though his life was too brief by far, Jordan was a hero. He lived his life to the fullest, and he will be missed.

back from the Philippines

It’s almost 8am and the temperature is a balmy 15 degrees. It’s quite a change from the heat of the Philippines, yet it is always good to be back in the states after a trip abroad.

Allen and I returned late Saturday after seven days of work in the Philippines. I admit I was feeling rough and dragging a little by the time we got back to Raleigh. I was also fighting a cold and bad throat. I slept for 14 hours straight and then napped even more Sunday afternoon. I slept well again last night and am now again feeling human.

It was a good trip. In fact, it was an excellent trip. We accomplished all we had set out to do, and even more.

  • We were able to assess the extent of the typhoon damage and see the desperate need in one of the impacted areas in northern Cebu.
  • We were able to meet with numerous Philippine partners to help coordinate ongoing relief efforts.
  • We coordinated the distribution of the million & a half Stop Hunger Now meals arriving to help feed typhoon victims
  • We delivered over 1100 Sawyer water filters for distribution in the impacted areas.
  • We were able to share quality time with one of our supporters and allow him to see the impact of our work in the field.
  • We spent time with Tiki Keh, the Executive Director of Stop Hunger Now Malaysia.
  • We participated along with almost 500 volunteers in a 120,000 Stop Hunger Now meal packaging event totally organized and run by Philippine Rotarians.
  • We deepened our partnership with Wine to Water and again demonstrated the power of working together for the greater good.

We live in a world growing ever more depersonalized, Electronic communication often replaces everything else.  Being with our friends in the Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan demonstrates that there are times, however, when nothing compares to personal relationships and caring enough to be present.

 

doing it the right way

It’s a little after 1530 here in Cebu City. I know the date is Wednesday, 11/20/13 because I saw a local paper this morning. If not for that I honestly would not have a clue. Between 30 straight hours of travel, a 13 hour time difference, and a full 19 hour day yesterday…well, details tend to be a bit blurry.

What I do know is that I am so glad we are all here. I am so proud of our Stop Hunger Now team. And I am always totally energized by being in the field and seeing our partners in action. To simply state they do great work is totally insufficient. The work our partners are doing in response to Super Typhoon Haiyan is simply amazing. They are true heroes.

Yesterday, we left our hotel at 0430 to fly to Cebu. Once we checked into our hotel we were met by our wonderful Feed the Hungry partners. They graciously agreed to take us into the typhoon impacted areas.

Although time constraints and high winds prohibited us from seeing some of the most devastated areas, we toured northern Cebu for over ten hours trying to assess the extent of the devastation and to get a feel for the needs of the survivors. By the time we returned to Cebu City, had dinner and a final get together to wrap up the day, it was almost 2200 when I finally turned out the light.

Seeing the extent of the damage caused by this massive storm puts the news reports into perspective. According to the World Food Program, there are still over 2.5 million in desperate need of food. And during our journey yesterday we saw so many women, men and children, all with their hands outstretched. All of them were begging us to stop and give them food. That, however is only a small part of the real need.

The typhoon survivors also need shelter. Even when buildings and homes were not totally flattened, the roofs were peeled away like the skins of rotten oranges.

They need drinking water. Long lines waited wherever there was a truck caring clean water.

The survivors need power. Some regions have been told they might have electricity restored by Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!

They need to have a way to earn a livelihood. Commercial fishing is never easy. It’s significantly more difficult if your boat is more splinters than solid wood.

Stop Hunger Now began as a crisis relief organization. For years now our approach to ending hunger has been far more strategic as we attempt systemic change. But crisis relief is in our DNA. And being here actively involved in responding to Super Typhoon Haiyan (also locally known as Typhoon Yolanda) feels right. We are making a difference far beyond just the value of our donations of food and other necessary relief supplies.

Our presence here demonstrates that we truly are partners, that we care, and that we will do whatever it takes to help the survivors recover from the recent horror. I might not know what day it is, but I definitely know that we are doing the right thing. And we are doing it in the right way.

little gestures mean a lot

Allen Renquist, Jordan Gurnesy and I arrived at our hotel here in Manila early this morning (a little after 1am) after 30+hours of nonstop travel. All of us were pleased to finally have a chance to get a hot shower and stretch out for even a short night’s sleep.

But what was really the most satisfying feeling for all three of us was just how easy it was to get all nine duffel bags of water filters through Philippines Customs. We were concerned, to say the least. We were bringing in 700 waters filters in our checked baggage. For those of you who might not have ever attempted such a feat…well, it’s a big deal. It could have been “nightmare quality” difficult.

First, packaging 700 water filters is no simple task. As I mentioned, nine very full duffel bags. Then transporting nine duffel bags of filters to the airport at 0530 in the morning takes teamwork. Checking in for an international flight always takes a little longer than checking in for domestic flights. Try it with nine over-sized duffel bags.

Even getting nine duffel bags of water filters and personal luggage from the conveyor belt to the customs checkpoint takes a fair bit of coordination–especially after 30 hours of flying.

But what made the process so rewarding is that during every step there was an amazing amount of help. Stop Hunger Now staff went above & beyond their normal excellent work to ensure the filters would make it to the Philippines. Then when Delta Airlines found out the duffel bags contained humanitarian relief supplies they graciously allowed us to check the additional bags at no cost.

When we arrived in the Philippines all three of us were immediately struck by the appreciation shown to us by the Philippines Immigration & Customs officials. Several times we were thanked by the officials for coming to help. It surprised us. I cannot ever remember an immigration official ever thanking me before.

And when we finally took our three carts of water filter-filled duffel bags to Customs the official asked us what was in the bags. We told her.  She didn’t open a single bag. She just stamped our customs forms, and then took the time to thank us for coming to the Philippines to help. What a great start to our time here.

It’s such little gestures that mean a lot, especially at one in the morning.

Super Typhoon Haiyon

Last Thursday, the Stop Hunger Board was in its annual retreat when Allen mentioned we were already monitoring the situation in the Philippines and that various staff were already beginning to plan our response.  From then until now we have not slowed down.

Stop Hunger Now has been in full crisis response mode for the past week. Already over a million meals have been shipped or will shortly leave the US for the Philippines. One full container (285,000 meals) has already left California and another hundred thousand meals are being airlifted from Kansas City. Other containers are scheduled to leave early next week.

Working with our strategic partner, Wine to Water, we are providing 1100 Sawyer water filters. Each of these filters have the capacity of providing over 275 gallons of clean water a day.We are also sending high energy bars, medicine, medical supplies and other donated relief supplies.

Stop Hunger Now Malaysia is sending another quarter of a million meals. And they are gearing up to provide more.

But the most exciting facet of our response is that our wonderful partners in the Philippines are going to hold a special packaging event in Manila next week where volunteers will package another 120,000 meals for their countrymen in the area of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyon. Providing the opportunity for Filipinos to help provide life-saving meals is powerful in so many ways.

Tomorrow morning Allen Renquist and I will fly to the Philippines to coordinate our immediate relief efforts with our partners, assess the extent of the damage, and plan for Stop Hunger Now’s continuing response to this tragedy. We will be joined by Jordon Gurnsey, a close friend and supporter of our efforts, and Tiki Keh, our Stop Hunger Now Malaysia Director.

We will try to post on a regular basis to share stories and photos, so stay tuned for more detailed reports of our trip.