Some 500,000 American teens are joining a 30-hour nationwide "famine" to raise money to fight hunger around the world starting at noon Friday.
Teens will fast for 30 hours to get a real taste of hunger that millions of children and families around the world experience each day. Participants aim to raise more than $12 million this year through World Vision's 30 Hour Famine.
"In 2005 I did my first 30 hour famine. It was an amazing experience…to feel what these kids feel every day and to learn about what they go through to survive is so amazing," said one participant named Jessie.
"The fact that children as young as two or three can do more manual labor and hard work to get a small scrap of food every day than the average teenager is willing to do is just amazing. It's almost unbelievable."
The World Vision 30 Hour Famine raises awareness and funds to fight hunger overseas as well as in the United States.
During the fast, participants go without food, consuming only liquids (water and juice). They also learn about world hunger and poverty and perform service projects, such as food drives and serving in soup kitchens or homeless shelters, in their communities.
Among the facts students will learn is that one child dies every six seconds due to hunger-related illnesses, which translates to nearly 18,000 children that will die over the course of the 30 Hour Famine.
Furthermore, each night 850 million people worldwide go to bed hungry – that's one out of every six people on earth, and nearly 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day.
Many of these deaths can be prevented with just $1 a day – the same amount it costs to download one song on an MP3 player.
Funds raised by the event will go to help flood-ravaged North Korea and countries in southern Africa.
In August, floods in 11 provinces across North Korea – described as the worst humanitarian crisis in a decade – left 300,000 homeless, effectively destroyed the year's rice harvest, and made chronic food shortages even worse this year.
The countries of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi also recently suffered floods that washed away crops and destroyed homes and livestock. Thousands in southern Africa face critical food shortages as food prices skyrocket.
Nearly 7,500 teens will participate in the 30 Hour Famine in the Washington, D.C. area., while some 7,000 teens will join the fast in the New York City area. Teens will participate in groups through churches, schools, youth groups and civic organizations.
Since 1992, students have raised more than $100 million worldwide through World Vision's 30 Hour Famine youth movement. In 2007, 30 Hour Famine raised $11.7 million. This year's goal is to raise $12.5 million.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization focused on working with children, families, and their communities worldwide by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. The ministry works in 100 countries, helping approximately 100 million people every year.