Experiencing famine

A local church youth group learned the struggles of starving people all over the world by fasting for 30 hours.

The group of teenagers at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church participated in a movement known as the 30 Hour Famine. The World Vision program gives participants a chance to understand the hunger that more than a billion people around the world experience every day.

According to the Tinia Orduna, the youth coordinator for St. Mary’s, the group started fasting at 12:30 a.m. They took part in a variety of activities, called “Tribe games.” These exercises gave the children the experience of what a starving child in Africa goes through every day.

“I had a watering hole exercise, which they did not enjoy at all,” Orduna said. “They had to go and carry the water to and from a location. They also had to do a thing where each of them were on two separate tribes and they were either blindfolded or they couldn’t use their arms and had to find food. And that was really hard for them as well. They enjoyed the process, but they also realized how difficult it was for them if they couldn’t walk, they couldn’t talk.”

The children slept outdoors to get the experience of living without a proper shelter. They slept in a gated patio area at the church.

Orduna said that these exercises allow adults and children to visualize ways to prevent hunger as well.

“It’s very eye-opening in a lot of ways,” Orduna said. “I think youth and also the adults start to realize is that this is impacting all of us in ways and we can prevent it and how can we focus on those preventions. Through those experiences, we learn to prevent things from happening.”

The group also raised money for starving people in Africa through many fundraising events. According to Orduna, the group asked for money for their cause from people on the boardwalk in Laguna Beach.

“One of the things they did is they had a billboard cut-out of Zac Efron and then they had all these statistics about giving to the 30 Hour Famine,” Orduna said. “And they walked the boardwalk of Laguna Beach and requested funds and everything, and I think their highlight was when a gentleman actually prayed for them and said, ‘Can I pray for your group?’ And they were really impressed by that.”

The pastor for St. Mary’s, Elizabeth Rechter, said that the 30 Hour Famine program has changed the children in profound ways and made them more aware of the problems of hunger around the world.

“The children learned just how difficult it is to be living in other countries, where people are less fortunate,” Rechter said. “Our youth helps out with feeding the homeless, feeding them in the homeless shelters, the friendship shelter and things like that. But this experience takes them out of their own world.”

The St. Mary’s youth group will hold a fundraising carnival May 23. The carnival will be open to the public from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 428 Park Ave. The group is planning to hold games and activities to help people understand the diseases that are caused by worldwide hunger, as well as ways to prevent it.

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