Libby's team at one of our World Vision Youth Conferences earlier this year.
If you’ve ever thought about young people today as self-centred or cornerstones of the ‘I’ generation, then you’re not seeing the things I see.
That’s ok, I get a pretty great channel to engage with young people.
Don’t tell anyone, but I think I’ve got the best job at World Vision. My role is to lead the team who work with schools in NSW/ACT to educate young Australians about the impacts of hunger on other young people like them around the world. Through this work, World Vision partners with thousands of schools across the country to empower young people to be the catalyst for change through the 40 Hour Famine.
We often explain our work to friends and family by outlining that we are, ’that person who gets up in the assembly at school and talks about the 40 Hour Famine’. In these talks we’ll connect to our young audience, introducing the issues of hunger through the stories of children like Sofia or Tamin, and challenge them to see that change starts directly with them as young people, and invite them to choose to take a stand against hunger and join the 40 Hour Famine. When talking about some of the best parts of my role though, I talk about the moments after an assembly talk, when students come up to me practically buzzing with passion to make a difference.
They often talk about how this is the first time they have realised how significant an impact hunger has in the world and that this issue now has a name and a face and a story, but also that they feel so compelled to respond to this issue. They share passionately about all the things they will give up for 40 hours, how much they want to raise and which relatives they’ll ask support as soon as they get home! Their energy to be a part of the solution as soon as they’ve heard about an issue as huge as hunger, where 1 in 8 children go to bed hungry every night, is what motivates me every day.
But it’s not only the young people in schools who inspire me. I’m equally humbled by those working in schools – teachers, principals, careers advisors even! – who take on extra work in their already busy roles to make the 40 Hour Famine happen in their schools, so as to bring to their students the opportunity to develop leadership skills, to have a meaningful engagement with global issues and to make a practical impact by partnering with World Vision’s work around the world.
Schools are a cornerstone of community in Australia – they bring the community together around their young people, and it’s wonderful to partner with schools in the ways that we do, because this nature of schools reflects something of how World Vision works overseas. Our focus is on supporting the development of children and so we work to change the circumstances of the community around them.
I love seeing how communities like schools in Australia partner to make a difference for the communities that we work with overseas, and they really do make a difference – this year alone schools have raised over $2 million in the 40 Hour Famine, which will go towards important work in East Timor, Bangladesh, Swaziland and more. We have some great stories of children who’s stories we’ve shared in previous years of the 40 Hour Famine which show how in this, the 40th year of the 40 Hour Famine, we can look back and know that when young people choose to take a stand against hunger, they do make a difference.
This morning I visited a fantastic local school to thank them for their efforts in the 40 Hour Famine in August and again I spoke in their Assembly but this time it was to thank the school for their efforts in this year’s 40 Hour Famine. This was their first time joining the 40 Hour Famine in a number of years and yet they raised over $13,000! Together we celebrated that by going without things important to them for 40 Hours, these young people made a lasting difference in the lives of others through World Vision’s work. For most young people this is before they get a driver’s licence, before they get to vote – before many other key markers of independence or autonomy, these young people made a mark in the world. That’s the mark I see when I look at today’s young people, and it gives me hope knowing that the young people we empower in our work have empowered other young people around the world to lift themselves out of poverty.