I was just a 19 year-old college sophomore when I read a book that completely changed my perspective on the world. It is titled The Paradox of Plenty: Hunger In A Bountiful World. This book explores world food systems, the role that the United States and the European Countries play in these systems, global politics and the effects of it on hungry people, and the impact of the free market. At the time, I could relate everything to South America—specifically to my first home of Colombia. However, the more I am able to explore the world and see different places and meet new people, the more this book comes to life for me. It came to a resounding reality these past two weeks as I was visiting Malawi.
I’m sure that when most of us think of Africa the first images that come to mind are dry land and hungry children. But when actually visiting stepping foot in the great continent of Africa eyes are opened to a reality we didn’t imagine. There are bountiful resources and endless greenery.
So how is it possible that ADRA is responding to a drought crisis in a country that if full of green pastures and mountains? How is the UN’s Agency, WFP, coordinating the largest response to draught and food insecurity in over a decade? How are people in one region of the country left without enough food because of El Niño while the rest of the country has rain and fertile soil galore?
As I looked out my window while driving around to visit the project sites it hit us—the most fertile soil is used by corporations to grow tea for Europe’s consumption. It’s in moments like this when hope can be easily lost. Are we really making a difference? How can we provide opportunities for improvement when the biggest actors of influence care more concerned about their pockets than people?
But then a ray of sunshine comes through a hope is restored. When our participating food security farmers report that with the new techniques ADRA has been teaching them they’ve been able to double their yield and have enough food for the year–a glimmer of hope comes back. But the moment that it really, really shines through and takes away all darkness is when one of the Lead Farmers says,
“Thanks to ADRA’s intervention, I will not only be able to feed my parents, wife, four year old daughter, and myself; but I will also be feeding four orphaned children from my village”.
This right here is a reminder that ripple effects are real and that even when living in a “Paradox of Plenty” there can be faith that the “Plenty” will overcome the “Paradox”.