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Students fast against world hunger

World Vision 30 Hour Famine makes poverty personal

Hunger is coming to our high school hallways.

Howe Sound Secondary students are preparing to gather pledges across Squamish to support their World Vision 30 Hour Famine campaign, which joins the fight against global poverty, hunger and injustice April 24 and 25.

The nationwide initiative encourages youths to experience a day in the life of millions of impoverished people around the world. Last year, the local campaign contributed $4,702 to the $4.5 million raised across Canada to help children and families acquire basic necessities of life.

While the 30-hour initiative has a tangible impact on people in need, it also brings the issue down to earth for students who can easily satisfy any little hunger pang, said co-organizer and Howe Sound leadership class teacher Kevin McJannet.

"It certainly brings it home for the students. It gives them a sense of what it's like to go a day without food and try to live your normal day without any fuel," he said.

Starting at midnight on Friday, April 24, participants are restricted to drinking water and juice. Those who have raised at least $75 are invited to gather at the school for a sleepover event that night, which includes live music, films, games and informative displays raising awareness of global food distribution.

Grade 12 leadership students Gurman Gill and Claire Ourom are helping lead the campaign. They said the event is already creating a lot of buzz and they expect between 60 and 70 students to take part.

The 30-hour fast is a simple gesture when one looks at the grand scheme of things, said Gurman, who has been taking part in the event since she was a Grade 8 student.

"It's not very difficult compared to others. I mean, people around the world stay hungry for a lot longer than that," she said.

Last year, Ourom experienced the campaign's impact firsthand when she joined the Squamish Rotary Club's Interact youth group trip to the Emmanuel Boys Rescue Center in Nairobi, Kenya. The centre provides shelter, clothing and drug rehabilitation for children from the area's slums.

Ourom said money from previous campaigns went directly to the centre so it was a particularly powerful experience to see so many lives positively impacted by the project. Knowing the impact makes the school's fasting event easy.

"You feel really good and you get to have fun so it's a nice combo," she said.

The World Vision 30 Hour Famine kicks of next week across the country, but since Howe Sound is holding its edition at the end of the month the students have lots of time to collect pledges around the community.

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