ELCA World Hungerhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/Exploring: AdvocacyRyan P. Cumminghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/655http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/655<div class="ExternalClass9E99B8B91A2F4C5582590846017F3B4C"><p>​May 21, 2015<br></p><p><span><span><em>In this series of posts, we will take a closer look at some of the areas of work ELCA World Hunger supports domestically and internationally.&#160; Previously, we looked at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/650">relief </a>and <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/654">education</a>.&#160; </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/650"><em></em></a><em>This week, our focus is on &quot;advocacy.&quot; </em></span></span><br><span style="font-size&#58;17.3333px;"></span></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;17.3333px;">The Work We Do&#58; Advocacy</span><br></p><p><strong>What Is Advocacy?</strong></p><p>Speak up! </p><p>Advocacy is a public witness to the gospel of Christ where the church speaks with and on behalf of others in need.&#160; It is the work the church does when it speaks up and out, lending its voice to support, to vindicate, and to challenge.&#160; One of the most visible forms of advocacy is public policy advocacy.&#160; This includes listening to the experiences of community members, lifting up these experiences during conversations with policymakers, and educating Lutherans about current priorities in government.&#160; It also includes working for change in public policy based on priorities drawn from ELCA social statements, Lutheran ministries, programs and projects around the world. Our public policy advocacy colleagues at the state, national and international levels are often in deep conversation with Lutherans in the ELCA and with our ecumenical partners about the impact of policies on hunger.</p><p>Advocacy doesn't just happen in the halls of government, though.&#160; Any time we bring our voices to bear on issues of justice, we are advocating in the spirit of the church's calling to be advocates of justice and mercy (ELCA, &quot;Church in Society,&quot; [1991], p. 6.)&#160; This can be something as seemingly small as writing a letter to the editor of a local newspaper to inform readers of the realities of hunger and poverty.&#160; Or, it can be correcting colleagues at work or friends at school whose prejudices disparage people facing hunger.&#160; Speaking up, being advocates, is central to the work we do together.</p><p>Many Lutherans do this often.&#160; When misinformation and xenophobia galvanized opposition to unaccompanied children crossing the border from Mexico this summer, <a href="http&#58;//bishopmike.com/2014/07/18/a-visit-with-children-at-the-border/">Bishop Michael Rinehart</a> (Gulf Coast Synod) used his blog to speak the truth and give voice to the realities many of these children face.&#160; In September 2014, <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7698">hundreds of ELCA members joined others in the People's Climate March</a> in New York to bring attention to issues related to climate change.&#160; There are countless other examples.</p><p>ELCA World Hunger supports staff dedicated to public policy advocacy.&#160; The Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC) in New York City is an office of the ELCA, but it also represents the Lutheran World Federation.&#160; The staff of LOWC advocate for peace, human rights, justice and better standards of living for all people.&#160; It monitors the United Nations on behalf of the ELCA and on behalf of the 72 million Christians represented by the LWF.&#160; Our ELCA Advocacy staff in Washington, DC, advocates with US policymakers on issues ranging from the Farm Bill to the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act.&#160; And our eleven State Public Policy Offices (SPPOs) across the country are voices for change on issues like minimum wage, school breakfasts, and access to clean water. </p><p><strong>Roots of Advocacy</strong></p><p>Biblically, many people trace the roots of public policy advocacy to the Prophets.&#160; When Amos cries out for &quot;justice in the gate&quot; (5&#58;15), he's demanding just and fair court practices. &#160;And even modern-day political rhetoric hardly approaches the vitriol expressed by the prophet Isaiah&#58; &quot;How the faithful city has become a whore!&#160; She that was full of justice, righteousness lodged in her – but now murderers!...Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves!&quot; (1&#58;21-23a).</p><p>There are some limits to applying the prophets to public policy in the here-and-now, most notably the fact that we in the US don't live in a theocracy, so purely religious arguments have little traction in the public square. But this is precisely where Lutheran theology steps in, providing a path for bringing faith to bear on public life in a way that doesn't demand that a government be Christian in order to be good.</p><p>We have a name for this theology&#58; two kingdoms.&#160; (I know, I know.&#160; Commence groaning.)&#160; The common name might not be the best to describe what is going on in this theology.&#160; A better phrase might be &quot;God's two ways of governing.&quot;&#160; On the one hand, God &quot;governs&quot; the world through the gospel.&#160; This is the foundation of God's reign in the perfect kingdom.&#160; Here, mercy, love and forgiveness are the guiding principles.&#160; </p><p>Of course, with sin, this doesn't always work in the &quot;real world.&quot;&#160; Here, today, people suffer.&#160; People cheat.&#160; Greed runs rampant. &#160;Is there no grace to be found in our daily lives?&#160; Is our faith merely a matter of waiting for Heaven?&#160; No!&#160; Sin hasn't left us to our own devices apart from God.&#160; Indeed, God graciously provides for us in another way as we await the fullness of God's perfect reign.&#160; Here, God has established other structures and principles to help us live meaningful lives now&#58; justice, peace, equity.&#160; </p><p>Human communities may not be perfect communities of love and mercy.&#160; But they can be communities of justice and peace, and this can give us a taste of what perfect justice and perfect peace might be like in God's full reign.&#160; They can be communities in which the dignity of each person is protected and in which every person has an equal shot at a life lived without fear, without hunger, without oppression.&#160; </p><p>In baptism, Lutherans are called to build this kind of community – &quot;to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.&quot;&#160; Doing so is so central to who we are as the people of God that, according to the bible, we cannot be an authentic worshipping community without being a justice-seeking community&#58; </p><p>In Isaiah's words&#58;</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em>Yet day after day they seek me</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;and delight to know my ways,</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> they ask of me righteous judgments,</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;they delight to draw near to God. </em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em>'Why do we fast, but you do not&#160;see?</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?'</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day,</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;and oppress all your workers. </em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em>Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;and to strike with a wicked fist.</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> Such fasting as you do today</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;will not make your voice heard on high. </em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em>Is such the fast that I choose,</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;a day to humble oneself?</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> Will you call this a fast,</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;a day acceptable to the Lord? </em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em>Is not this the fast that I choose&#58;</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;to loose the bonds of injustice,</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;to undo the thongs of the yoke,</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> to let the oppressed go free,</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em> &#160;&#160;&#160;and to break every yoke? (Isaiah 58&#58;2-6)</em></p><p>Or again, from Micah&#58;</p><p><em>&quot;With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?&quot; He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?</em> (Micah 6&#58;8)</p><p>Advocacy – being voices of justice in an unjust world, voices of peace in the midst of conflict, and voices of solidarity amid marginalization – is central to who we are as church and central to our work to end hunger.&#160; As Lutherans, we believe God has ordained that we have governments, churches, families, and communities not so that some profit while others hunger but so that all may be fed.&#160; Our work as policy advocates and public advocates in other areas of our life is a key part of our role in God's establishment of a world worth living in and, if the health outcomes of hunger are any indication, a world that is possible to live in.</p><p><strong>Examples of Advocacy </strong></p><p>In December 2014, ELCA Advocacy urged followers to support <a href="https&#58;//www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/647">the ABLE Act</a>, which passed in the US House of Representatives by a 404-17 vote. The ABLE Act would allow people with disabilities to set up savings accounts for housing, transportation, educational opportunities, and other expenses without jeopardizing their eligibility for Medicaid and Social Security benefits. The act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in January 2015.</p><p>Also in December 2014, the <a href="http&#58;//www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocTypeID=SB&amp;DocNum=2758&amp;GAID=12&amp;SessionID=85&amp;LegID=78572">Secure Choice Savings Program Act</a> was approved by the General Assembly of Illinois, with support from <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacy.org/">Lutheran Advocacy-Illinois</a>.&#160; This act will give millions of private sector workers in Illinois the opportunity to save their own money for retirement by expanding access to employment-based retirement savings accounts, a benefit more than 2.5 million workers do not have.&#160; With <a href="http&#58;//www.nfesh.org/research/">food insecurity affecting nearly 15% of seniors</a> in Illinois, this act could be a significant step in reducing hunger among retirees.</p><p>The Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in New Jersey is currently in the midst of working toward passage of a <a href="http&#58;//www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/10/bill_to_require_nj_companies_to_offer_paid_sick_days_to_workers_begins_advancing_in_legislature.html">state-wide earned sick days bill</a> in the Assembly. The bill has passed the Assembly Labor and Budget committees and is awaiting a full floor vote. It is a model earned-sick-days law that covers nearly all 1.2 million workers in the state who lack earned sick days. The majority of those who will benefit are low-wage workers earning less than $10 an hour.&#160; The bill allows workers to use earned sick days to care for themselves as well as all immediate family members when sick and to use earned sick days to deal with, relocate or find safe accommodations due to circumstances resulting from being a victim of domestic or sexual violence.</p><p>&#160;</p><p>Learn more about ELCA Advocacy at the ELCA Advocacy blog&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/blogs/advocacy">http&#58;//www.elca.org/blogs/advocacy</a> </p><p>Sign up for ELCA Advocacy updates and alerts&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/mlm/signup/?ignore_cookie=1">http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/mlm/signup/?ignore_cookie=1</a> </p><p>&#160;</p><p><em style="font-size&#58;12px;">&#160;Ryan P. Cumming, PH.D., is program director of hunger education for ELCA World Hunger.&#160; You can reach him at Ryan.Cumming@ELCA.org.</em><br></p><p>&#160;</p></div>05/21/2015Exploring: EducationRyan P. Cumminghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/654http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/654<div class="ExternalClass7938BDED71C54944BC5DFBE2D38C12BC"><p>​<em>In this series of posts, we will take a closer look at some of the areas of work ELCA World Hunger supports domestically and internationally.&#160; Previously, </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/650"><em>we looked at relief</em></a><em>.&#160; This week, our focus is on &quot;education.&quot; </em></p><p><strong>What Is Education?</strong></p><p>Well, the short answer here is &quot;learning stuff.&quot;&#160; But, of course, education is much more than that.</p><p>There's two ways ELCA World Hunger supports education.&#160; First, we provide programming for individuals, congregations, and other groups to learn more about the root causes of hunger and what the church can do to address hunger and poverty.&#160; Second, we also support education toward sustainable development, as in programs in communities that provide basic education and job training.&#160; In this post, we are looking at the first kind of education.</p><p>What causes hunger?&#160; What is the difference between hunger and food insecurity?&#160; How can communities respond to hunger together?&#160; How does our faith call us to respond to all needs, including hunger?&#160; These are just a few of the questions Hunger Education explores – and at least <em>attempts</em> to answer.&#160; On the one hand, this means keeping up with current research.&#160; For example, did you know that the once-popular term &quot;food deserts&quot; might not be the best way to describe the relationship between food availability and obesity?&#160; Based on <a href="http&#58;//www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;ved=0CCAQFjAA&amp;url=http&#58;//www.ers.usda.gov/media/242606/ap036d_1_.pdf&amp;ei=3b-hVPLRCsG1yAS2u4G4Cg&amp;usg=AFQjCNEcchTbSdNcMHhaOFSBzskM2MPTIA&amp;bvm=bv.82001339%2cd.aWw&amp;cad=rja"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">a USDA report</span></a>, many people are turning to the term &quot;food swamps&quot; instead.&#160; Keeping up with changes like this can be time-consuming.&#160; But if we are going to respond to hunger effectively, we have to know what factors are involved.</p><p>Education is about more than facts, though.&#160; Paraphrasing Paolo Friere, good education is &quot;<a href="http&#58;//www.amazon.com/Pedagogy-Oppressed-Penguin-Education-Freire/dp/014025403X"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world</span></a>.&quot;&#160; Ultimately, the goal of Hunger Education is to equip and inspire Lutherans to respond to need – their own need and the needs of neighbors – in their communities and around the world.&#160; As Lutherans, we know that this is God's world, that God is active in it, and that all people are invited to participate in this transformative work.&#160; Discerning the kind of people God calls us to be is part of the work of Hunger Education.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><p>On a practical level, the Hunger Education team produces resources and programs for ELCA Lutherans and other people of goodwill to help with this.&#160; In addition, ELCA World Hunger Education grants are available for congregations, synods, and ELCA-related organizations to lead their own education projects in their areas.</p><p><strong>Roots of Education</strong></p><p>Lutheran theology is very practical.&#160;&#160; The grace by which we are saved isn't merely about waiting around for an afterlife with God.&#160; It frees us to live here and now, to love and to serve each other.&#160; Love is not just sentimental, though.&#160; Loving well, for Lutherans, means loving wisely.&#160; Wisdom – whether it appears as scientific knowledge, economic knowledge, or some other form – is a gift from God.&#160; It helps us better understand the world God has created and the most faithful ways we can live in it.&#160; By learning what hunger is, why it is present in so many communities, and what can be done to end it, we can more faithfully and effectively be part of the &quot;salt and light&quot; Christ calls our church to be.&#160; </p><p>Hunger education is also part of the formation the ELCA provides for people of faith.&#160; By exploring questions of faith and service together, we can help each other better discern what God is doing in the world and how we are called to be part of it.&#160; By being &quot;formed&quot; to see the world through Lutheran eyes – to see it as a place filled with wonder and tragedy – we can be ready to respond to need without ignoring it and to find the grace that exists in every community.</p><p><strong>Examples of Education</strong></p><p>ELCA World Hunger's education resources are free and easy-to-use.&#160; On the <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Resources/ELCA-World-Hunger"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA World Hunger resources page</span></a>, you can find everything from Lenten meals with stories of ELCA-supported ministries around the world to Act 2Day 4 Tomorrow, an overnight program for youth.&#160; There are toolkits with fun activities for all ages, our Road Map to Food Drives, VBS programs, and much more!</p><p>Hunger Education supports congregations, synods, and other organizations in their efforts to help Lutherans learn more about hunger through our Hunger Education grants.&#160; In 2014, the <a href="http&#58;//www.wsyg.com/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Western States Youth Gathering</span></a> invited ELCA World Hunger to be part of their massive event in Thousand Oaks, California, where youth and adults were trained in service learning and learned more about hunger in the US and around the world.&#160; The attendees spent a day immersed in ministries in the Los Angeles area, getting a deeper experience of the ways communities in California are responding to hunger.</p><p>Also in 2014, members of <strong>First English Lutheran Church</strong> (Columbus, Ohio), with the support of a Hunger Education grant, conducted all-day anti-hunger and anti-poverty trainings in ten congregations in the Central Ohio area.&#160; They also made presentations in classes at Capital University and Columbus State University.&#160; The presentation at Capital led to a service-learning course there in which students studied housing access in the Columbus area.</p><p>In 2015, youth from <strong>St. John's Lutheran Church</strong> in Little Suamico, Wisconsin, put the ELCA World Hunger resource <strong>Road Map to Food Drives</strong> in action!&#160; The youth coordinated the drive, promoted it around town, and led each other in activities to learn more about hunger.&#160; Together, they collected more than 800 pounds of food for a local pantry while using their leadership skills to build relationships and serve their community.</p><p>&#160;</p><p><em>R</em><em>yan P. Cumming, Ph.D., is the program director of Hunger Education for ELCA World Hunger.&#160; He can be reached at </em><a href="mailto&#58;Ryan.Cumming@ELCA.org"><em>Ryan.Cumming@ELCA.org</em></a><em>.</em></p></div>05/04/2015An Earth Day ReflectionGina Tonnhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/653http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/653<div class="ExternalClassF2E404F454C44B04A022C8935989ADFA"><p>​<em>April 22, 2015</em></p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/10301134_10153135917120428_5147120092565945873_n.jpg" alt="10301134_10153135917120428_5147120092565945873_n.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;200px;vertical-align&#58;text-bottom;" />How do you honor God's creation? Part of my spiritual practice is being a morning person, to honor the light by greeting it early, allowing the new dawn to fill me with the spirit. Each new day is an opportunity to continue the work we are called to do, refreshed and renewed through sleep and new light. I sense hopefulness of morning; I am filled with hope for the world, in our ability to create positive change, for there to be more people fed and nourished each day. I have confidence in the abundance of God's creation; I see the divine in everything the sun touches.</p><p>Even as I honor God's creation in my rising, I often take the earth and God's gifts for granted in my living. I confess to being a lesser steward of the earth than I am called to be. I confess to my crimes against the environment – both things done and left undone out of laziness, convenience and self-centeredness. I confess to ignorance about where my food comes from and how it's grown. I confess to ignoring future degradation for the sake of present quality of life. </p><p>My actions contribute to climate change. Climate change disproportionately affects people who live in vulnerable conditions, who experience poverty and hunger. As we observe Earth Day this week, let's not only recommit to changing our attitudes and actions toward the earth and resources, but also to changing our attitudes and actions about food security, production and access around the world. </p><p>This year, the <a href="https&#58;//salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50750/images/Earth%20Day%202015.pdf?key=71617194">Earth Day Sunday Resource</a><a>[1]</a> produced by <a href="http&#58;//www.creationjustice.org/">Creation Justice Ministries</a>, formerly the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program, asks &quot;How does food production and consumption impact the climate? How does climate change affect growing and accessing food? How are we sharing communion with God, one another, and all creation?&quot;</p><p>In the <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Caring-for-Creation?_ga=1.178919716.1231352234.1415200018">ELCA Social Statement <em>Caring for Creation&#58; Vision, Hope and Justice</em></a><em>, </em>our church corporately confesses that we are <em>not</em> in communion with all creation because of our alienation from God and creation, through captivity to sin. We proclaim God as creator of the earth. We live and work within a scientific world. Divinity and science need not be at odds. As <em>Caring for Creation </em>suggests, &quot;In our time, science and technology can help us to discover how to live according to God's creative wisdom.&quot; In the United States today, use of science and technology to protect and honor creation is often controlled and dictated by our government. One way we can encourage and participate in ways our government takes action on climate change is through <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Publicly-Engaged-Church/Advocacy?_ga=1.107532930.1231352234.1415200018">ELCA Advocacy</a>. Other ways to get your congregation involved in caring for creation can be found through <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/">Lutherans Restoring Creation</a>, an organization supported in part by grants from ELCA World Hunger. </p><p>But caring for creation cannot only be scientific and political; care for the earth is a profoundly spiritual matter.<a>[2]</a> So I will continue to honor God's creation by rising with the sun and by looking for the divine in the beauty of the earth. I will also work to love God's creation by mitigating my environmental footprint, better stewarding resources, and accompanying my neighbors near and far who are most susceptible to climate change because of food insecurity. Earth Day is not only an opportunity to celebrate and renew our commitment to environmental sustainability, but also to renew our love for neighbor, as we too were made of earth. </p><p>&#160;</p><p>Gina Tonn <em>serves as Program Assistant for Education and Constituent Engagement with ELCA World Hunger through a placement in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps.&#160;</em>&#160;</p><p><br><br></p><p><a>[1]</a> <em>Have you anything here to eat? </em>includes resources and ideas for worship and congregational life such as liturgy, prayers, discussion questions, and action steps. </p><p><a>[2]</a> Paraphrase from <em>Caring for Creation, </em>&quot;Even as we join the political, economic and scientific discussion, we know care for the earth to be a profoundly spiritual matter.&quot;&#160;​</p></div>04/22/2015Mahdi's Story - Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya Gina Tonnhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/652http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/652<div class="ExternalClass3722C2C761B54A7A9B90EB3C2C5B708B"><p>​The Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya is host to 180,000 individuals,<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[1]</span></a> more than 100,000 of whom are children. Since its establishment in 1992, the camp has become home to refugees from South Sudan, Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.&#160;Grants from ELCA World Hunger, in partnership with the Lutheran World Federation Department for World Service (LWF-DWS) Kenya-Djibouti Program, help to support programming for children in the camp. </p><p>A March 2015 update from the&#160; Kenya-Djibouti Program states that the core of its work in Kakuma for the coming year will focus on education, child protection and community services.&#160; ELCA World Hunger is directly supporting the Anti-Child Labor Campaign project for 2015.&#160; The Anti-Child Labor Campaign will focus on increasing advocacy capacity through trainings for community-based organizing within the Kenyan host community and working to improve school environments with in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. The campaign seeks to offer children protection and support by increasing access to education for children who have been subject to child-labor violations throughout Turkana West District and within Kakuma Refugee Camp. According to the <a href="http&#58;//kenyadjibouti.lutheranworld.org/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">LWF DWS Kenya-Djibouti Program website</span></a>, the organization is committed to protecting the rights to life, survival and development of children who call the Kakuma Refugee camp home. </p><p><strong>Mahdi Riek Khor</strong> is a South Sudanese refugee, Kakuma resident, elected community leader, Child Protection Community Development Worker, aspiring politician, and only 23 years old. Thanks to the LWF Kenya-Djibouti Program, we are able to share his story with you&#58;</p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right&#58;0px;"><p dir="ltr" style="text-align&#58;left;"><img alt="Mahdi - Kakuma.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/Mahdi%20-%20Kakuma.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;253px;float&#58;left;" />Mahdi says, &quot;Me, one day, if God is willing, I want to be a politician. As a politician I will maintain peace. I will be transparent, I will consider different cultures and I will accept being corrected. As a politician, I will consider any human being as a somebody.&quot; </p><p style="text-align&#58;justify;">In December 2013, Mahdi became the first secondary school graduate in his family and was returning home to Bentiu to see his mother after 13 years apart, when violent hostilities disrupted his journey. 'Fighting reached Unity State on the 19<sup>th</sup> of December. I remember it. There was a lot of destruction – guns, killings, arbitrary arrests, rape of women and girls. I had to come to Kakuma for safety.'</p><p style="text-align&#58;justify;">Mahdi is one of more than 45,000 people to reach Kakuma Refugee Camp, in north western Kenya, since December 2013 - among almost 2 million South Sudanese people to have become displaced inside or outside the country in the same period&#58; 'Life is a struggle in Kakuma. I can't meet my basic needs. I am providing for 9 nieces and nephews. I don't have good shelter, I'm not comfortable in the environment, there are no televisions to watch the news and learn about the world. Now the only world I know is inside Kakuma.'&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;justify;">Despite this, Mahdi is among 90 refugees who work with LWF as Child Protection Community Development Workers, working to prevent and respond to child protection issues across the camp's population of 101,000 children. In Kakuma IV, the camp's newest area, the team is supporting children with various protection concerns&#58; children separated from their parents and family, children who have experienced or witnessed notable violence, children vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse - most of whom have lost everything and need much more than agencies can provide. 'Child Protection work is very, very hard,' Mahdi says. 'It's the working environment, going door to door, walking very far when the condition is too hot. We have a problem with promises. We want to help but we can't always fulfil [needs], so some people see us as an enemy. They think we are lying.' </p><p style="text-align&#58;justify;">Refugees working to protect children in their own camp communities show courage and commitment. The work is challenging, resources are limited and cultural practices often conflict with the rights that workers are trying to promote. Mahdi considered the question of why he continues with the work. 'I want to encourage children... Life has many challenges... it is my responsibility to help protect people. These cases, when you can resolve a situation, reunite a child with their family. I reunited two children with their parents and the children were most happy. They were so, so happy. That's why we do the work.'</p><p style="text-align&#58;justify;">It is easy to imagine Mahdi as a very successful leader in the future. 'Here in Kakuma, we hope that opportunity will come. Kakuma teaches us to live in a hard situation but I see now that I have met people here I would not have met outside. You can learn from different nationalities – their culture, their attitudes, we can learn from them.' And in the meantime, Mahdi is working hard to support children in Kakuma - considering every child as a somebody. </p></blockquote><p>ELCA World Hunger is proud to be a part of LWF Department of World Service's ongoing commitment to education and development for children, and protection of rights and wellbeing for all children at Kakuma and around the world.</p><p><em>​Madhi's profile written and provided courtesy of the </em><em>LWF</em> <em>Kenya-Djibouti Program</em><em>.&#160;</em><br></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><em>Gina Tonn</em> </span><em style="line-height&#58;1.6;">is a&#160;Program Assistant for Education and Constituent Engagement with ELCA World Hunger through a placement in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps.&#160;</em><br></p><p><br></p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[1]</span></a> UNHCR, February 2015</p></div>04/20/2015Welcome Elyssa Salinas - Program Assistant for Hunger Education!Elyssa Salinashttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/651http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/651<div class="ExternalClassAE8268A9050345288D6091A8CAA3CADB"><p>​<em>Please welcome our newest colleague in ELCA World Hunger - Elyssa Salinas!</em><br></p><p><img alt="es.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/es.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;158px;" /></p><p>Hello! I'm Elyssa Salinas and I'm thrilled to join ELCA World Hunger as the program assistant for Hunger Education! Currently I'm finishing my Masters of Divinity at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and I will be graduating in May! I'm originally from the Chicago area, growing up in Oak Park and Des Plaines. I attended Valparaiso University and pursued a degree in theatre, enjoying roles such as Lady Bracknell in <em>The Importance of Being Earnest</em> and Sir Toby Belch in <em>Twelfth Night</em>. Also in college I began to develop an interest in gender studies and performance poetry. </p><p>After graduating in 2012 I decided to take the advice of one of my professors and give the East Coast a try, so I decided to attend the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia as a Fund for Leaders scholar. While there I got a job with a nonprofit organization that worked with families dealing with home instability in connection with a diverse pool of faith groups in the area. This experience provided me with an opportunity of engaging my faith with social issues I felt (and still feel) strongly about. </p><p>Throughout my time in college and seminary I spent four summers working near Santa Cruz, California, at Mt. Cross Ministries, a Lutheran camp set in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Mt. Cross gave me a chance to experience the West coast and engage with youth, where every day was about seeing God through their eyes. </p><p>Throughout my discernment process in Philadelphia I found that my call was not what I expected, and so after two years I decided to transfer back home to Chicago and pursue a call in teaching. I'm happy to be home and close to my family while I continue to follow my path in education. This Fall I will start my Ph.D at LSTC in systematic theology and sexual ethics, where I plan to focus on body/sex shaming and how to embrace our bodies as God embraces each of us, as children of God's abundant love. I am an advocate for positive body image, and I challenge myself and others to see each of us as God sees us, beloved and beautiful. </p><p>Poetry has been a vehicle to explore my own challenges with body image and my identity as a Latina. I have been performing poetry for the past few years at various open mic performances in Philadelphia and Chicago along with using poetry as part of my academic career. Currently I'm working on a book of poetry from the point of view of biblical women, especially Old Testament women such as Hagar, Dinah and Jael. </p><p>Fun Facts about Elyssa!</p><ul><li>I was a competitive public speaker for 7 years! </li><li>My favorite movie of all time is <em>Beauty and the Beast</em>, and I love Disney! My mother is the only person to beat me at Disney trivia.</li><li>I got my first poem published this year in <a href="http&#58;//store.fortresspress.com/store/productgroup/792/Thinking-Theologically"><em>Thinking Theologically</em></a>! </li><li>My CTA commute always entails a book and I'm always looking for more to read! </li></ul></div>04/16/2015Exploring: ReliefRyan P. Cumminghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/650http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/650<div class="ExternalClass7DD8EFACFEF94E83B248C0A3AD278D56"><p>​<strong>Exploring&#58; Relief</strong></p><p><em style="font-size&#58;11pt;">In this series of posts, we will take a closer look at some of the areas of work ELCA World Hunger supports domestically and internationally.&#160; This week, our focus is on &quot;relief.&quot;</em></p><p><strong>What Is Relief?</strong></p><p>Relief is any response to immediate needs.&#160; When someone comes to the door hungry, they are fed.&#160; When someone is hurt, they are treated.&#160; Relief might not look toward long-term solutions, but it is the most immediate response we can offer when we encounter someone in need.&#160; Occasionally, relief can also be the best response to the needs of people who might never be able to reliably meet their own needs.&#160; For example, someone who is unable to work due to a very serious injury might never be able to earn enough income to feed themselves.&#160; Relief ministries can step in and fill this gap.</p><p>It is very important, though, to remember that RELIEF IS NOT THE SAME AS RESCUE.&#160; Whether someone volunteers at a food pantry, receives a hot meal at a church, or packs backpacks of food for children on the weekend, relief should always be thought of first and foremost as work we do together – whether we are receiving food or providing it.&#160; Relief done well creates a table at which ALL can be fed.</p><p>As Lutherans, we recognize that hunger takes many forms – physical hunger for food, emotional hunger for support or intimacy, spiritual hunger for fulfillment and so on.&#160; Relief ministries aren't simply a way for struggling families to be fed with food; they are opportunities for those serving to be fed spiritually, socially and emotionally, by being invited to share in the meaningful relationships that can be created when God draws together people who might otherwise not encounter one another at work, school, or home.&#160; Seeing our mutual need as both recipients and providers can be an important first step in helping our ministry be guided by the dignity of the people involved on every side.</p><p><strong>Roots of Relief</strong></p><p>One of the clearest places we see relief in our scripture and tradition is in the miracle stories of the Bible.&#160; In the Old Testament, we hear of God providing manna to the wandering Hebrews.&#160; After they left Egypt, the people roamed through the wilderness, seeking the land God had promised them.&#160; This story gives us some helpful tips for what relief ought to look like.&#160; </p><p>First, God isn't just an outside &quot;hero&quot; who rescues Israel.&#160; Rather, God is walking with them, accompanying them as they make their way to Canaan.&#160; Because God is traveling with them, God knows their need, and God provides.&#160; </p><p>Second, God's relief is given during a time when the Hebrews simply could not support themselves.&#160; Without land, these agriculturalists would have been hard-pressed to provide for their families.&#160; God's relief is given in response to the expressed needs of the people and with an eye toward their future well-being and livelihood.&#160; The goal isn't to provide just enough of one kind of relief (manna) so that the Hebrews remain dependent.&#160; Nor is it given to assert God's worth over and above the worth of each human being.&#160; It is given in love and hope, to support the Hebrews on the journey to a new life that they will build in cooperation with God.</p><p>Third, the Hebrews aren't just passive recipients; they are part of a relationship with God and important actors in the progress of God's plan for Israel.&#160; There is no covenant without God, and there is no covenant without people.</p><p>Finally, and this seems almost to go without saying, Moses isn't God.&#160; No human leader, no human participant in the community is so elevated that they become replacements or substitutes for God.&#160; God's way of relating gives all of us an ideal picture of what relationships can look like, but there is a big difference between helping our community meet its needs and being the Creator and Sustainer of all existence.&#160; In the wilderness, God uses the people's gifts – Moses' gift of leadership, Miriam's gift of music, Jethro's gift of counsel.&#160; Each gift counts, each person matters.&#160; There is a measure of equality among the members of the community; once they are confronted by the majestic powers of God, any minor distinctions between individual humans pale in comparison. </p><p>In the New Testament, Jesus provides excellent examples of relief in the stories of healing.&#160; On the surface, this relief seems pretty straightforward.&#160; Someone has a disease or disability; he or she asks Jesus for help; Jesus provides immediate help.&#160; End of story, right?&#160; Not quite.&#160; </p><p>As biblical scholars have pointed out, to have a disease like leprosy or a disability like blindness in Jesus' time meant something very different than it does today.&#160; To have leprosy was to be an outcast, someone who could never be &quot;clean&quot; enough to dine with others or to go to synagogue.&#160; To have a permanent disability like blindness was thought to be a sign that a person was cursed by God for some failing.&#160; Jesus, by healing people around him – indeed, even by touching them – was turning both of these notions on their heads.&#160; People with disabilities weren't cursed by God; they were loved by God – so much so, in fact, that Jesus is willing to break the law by healing on the Sabbath (Mark 3&#58;16; Luke 13&#58;10-17.)&#160; </p><p>Jesus wasn't just healing people; he was subverting social mores that tossed justice and compassion out the window.&#160; Relief ministries of today, when done faithfully, are important witnesses against a society that believes people's suffering is ordained by God or that people who have real needs will somehow &quot;taint&quot; the community.&#160; (<a href="http&#58;//www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/clearwater-supports-tougher-laws-against-homeless/1241183"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">If you don't believe this happens today, I would invite you to read this fine article on recent laws passed to keep homeless people out of public spaces.)</span></a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"> </span></p><p>Everyone Jesus meets is in need of healing, not just those who different physical abilities or illnesses.&#160; Providing immediate relief to people who hunger for food, for companionship, for fulfillment – when done in love, in solidarity, and with an eye toward future well-being – can be a powerful testimony to the worth and dignity of every human being, including those who have been invited to serve.&#160; And often, such a ministry can create a cycle, with <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/595"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">clients of a ministry often using their talents and skills as volunteers or employees</span></a>.&#160; </p><p><strong>Examples of Relief</strong></p><p>Relief ministries are some of the most vital ministries ELCA World Hunger supports.&#160; Here are some examples&#58; </p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.peacelutheranfellowship.org/backpacks.htm"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Peace Lutheran Fellowship in Port Ludlow, Washington</strong></span></a>, provides an average of 20 backpacks of food to children who are food insecure in their community.&#160; By working closely with the local school, they can identify children who might not have enough to eat during the weekends, when they are not receiving food at school. </p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.cuqca.org/cms.asp?page=meal-sites"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Churches United of the Quad Cities Area</strong></span></a> is an ecumenical group of Iowa churches that maintains a network of 24 food pantries and 3 hot-meal sites.&#160; Together, they are committed to serving all who are hungry, without discrimination.&#160; Almost half of the people who receive free suppers at their hot meal sites are under 18, and all are food-insecure.&#160; By working together and with support in part from ELCA World Hunger, they are able to serve meals to over 29,000 people each year.</p><p><a href="http&#58;//programs.lwr.org/africa/kenya/kakuma"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Lutheran World Federation's </span><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Kakuma Refugee Camp Assistance Program</strong></span></a> helps provide humanitarian assistance and protection for people fleeing violence and persecution in other parts of Africa, especially Sudan most recently.&#160; When refugees arrive at the camp in Kenya, they are given food rations and referred to other agencies for psychosocial needs.&#160; This year, LWF expects to assist 13,000 new refugees, including many asylum seekers, at the camp.&#160; LWF supports these new asylum seekers and helps them get connected with other agencies like the <a href="http&#58;//www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)</span></a>. Each of the refugees will be given immediate assistance until long-term solutions can be found for their protection and well-being.&#160; In addition, the project helps improve educational opportunities for children, including providing accommodations for children with disabilities and has a program specifically for unaccompanied minors. </p></div>04/14/2015