Leonida with her son Gideon at his high school. She sacrificed mightily, including selling some of the annual corn harvest, to pay his tuition so he could complete his studies. “Education,” she tells her children, “is the most important thing in this century.” Photo by the author.
With this podcast series, we open a new front in our storytelling, adding the magic of audio narratives to our writing, photos, and videos. We’re calling this series: Outrage and Inspire, storytelling from the author of the real hunger games trilogy – Council senior fellow Roger Thurow.
The central outrage of these stories is that we have brought famine, hunger, malnutrition, and stunting – such Medieval sufferings – with us into the 21st century. Yes, we have made progress over the past several decades, reducing by half the number of people dying of hunger. We will certainly celebrate successes in our stories. But still, three million children die every year of malnutrition and related diseases. And what about those who survive, what becomes of them? Well, one of every four children in our world today is stunted, either physically or mentally or both, from malnutrition in their earliest days and months and years. And get this: about half of our planet’s entire population is malnourished in some manner – they are either chronically hungry (about 800 million people not getting enough calories for an active life every day); or micro-nutrient deficient (about two billion people lacking the proper vitamins and minerals in their diets for adequate growth of the brain or body); or severely overweight or obese (escalating toward two billion).
It is absurd, obscene – the darkest stain on our global conscience – that in our grand new Millennium, with so much incredible technology and communications capability literally at our fingertips, we tolerate such malnutrition in our world.
The outrages of hunger are many. But so, too, are the inspirations of people who confront – and conquer – hunger and malnutrition. The moms and dads and children, the farmers and fishers, the scientists and activists, the midwives and nutritionists and community health workers. They provide both the outrage and the inspiration – and the stories of this podcast series.
In this episode, we hear the story of Gideon Wanyama’s arduous journey from small farm to college to joining the hundreds of millions of fellow African youths entering the job market – a generation yearning to contribute to the continent’s growth. It is a journey of ambition, hard work, tremendous family sacrifice, mighty struggles, and hope. “We are moving forward,” Gideon says. For this is his mantra: “Forward ever, backward never.” A narrative from The Last Hunger Season book. For more, check out The Last Hunger Season Revisited.