In early June, our Be45 Ministry students took a trip to the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas for 3 days of experiential learning about the reality of global poverty and hunger. We learned about food waste, sustainable agriculture, global hunger, refugees and the causes and effects of poverty. During our three days together, we pondered this question: if there is enough food for everyone in the world to have 2 meals a day, why doesn’t everyone have enough?
Experiencing the Global Village
The culmination of our time at the Heifer Ranch was the 24 hours we spent inside the Global Village. The Global Village replicates daily living in a variety of settings around the world. During our 24 hours in the Global Village we lived in the Urban Slums. Some of our students slept in shanty homes with dirt floors and some of our students slept in shanty homes with wood floors. None of the homes in the the Urban Slums had doors or windows and they offered little protection from the elements. Because the Urban Slums replicate some of the poorest living conditions around the world, we were given a very small amount of rice for our time in the village and three eggs for our group of 7. We had to trade with other villagers in the Global Village to acquire items such as firewood and water for cooking and quickly found that we had very little to trade with. Our group relied on the generosity of other groups in the village to make it through our time in the village.
One of the hardest parts of our experience in the Global Village is when we realized that our group did not have enough milk to feed both babies we had been assigned to care for in the Urban Slums. After looking for milk among the other villages and having nothing to trade with, we realized that one of our babies would not make it through the experience because we were only able to acquire one bottle of milk. This was a hard moment for our students as we grappled with the reality that everyday around the world children are dying because they do not have food to eat.
Lessons and What’s Next
As we reflected on our experience at the Heifer Ranch our students wanted to share some of the highs and lows of our time with the church. Our students all agreed that the living conditions were the most challenging part of our time in the Global Village. One student shared that having nowhere to retreat from the rain and having to cook over an open fire while it rained was very challenging. Another student shared that sleeping on the dirt floor and knowing animals could come into our house was difficult and scary. When asked what they learned at the Heifer Ranch, one student shared it was the first time she truly realized that people around the world and in our country are starving and dying because they do not have enough food. Another student shared that learning about the gap between the rich and the poor was an important insight and it was the first time he realized that there are enough resources in the world for everyone and people should not have to starve.
Our students also came home with many action goals from our time learning together at the Heifer Ranch. They have committed to continue their sponsorship of Shafik in Uganda and take his sponsorship responsibilty with them as they move into the youth ministry. Another student shared that her family is working to reduce waste of food and resources in their home. Another student noted that as we donate to help others it is important to not just give people food but help them develop sustainable systems to grow food and other resources so that a greater impact can be made to and global hunger.
Our time together at the Heifer Ranch was a life changing experience for the students and adults involved. We continue to ponder together this question and the call God places on our lives as we respond to it. If there are enough resources for everyone in the world to have two meals a day, why does everyone not have enough?
-Rev. Gracie Dugan