Thirty-five teens gathered Saturday to embark on an experience that would not only change their view of the world, but also help people around the world as well. Leaders and youth from Brambleton Presbyterian Church teamed up with World Vision to fight hunger in a 30 Hour Famine.
As part of the initiative, the teens fasted for 30 hours, participated in community service projects and simulated activities, and spent six weeks fundraising to put a stop to world hunger.
“This is our most popular youth event other than camp. It’s something concrete that they can do for starving kids their age,” said Pastor Elizabeth Brookens-Sturman.
The teens started fasting at 6 a.m. Saturday. By 3 p.m., some of them were hungry, others were not, but they all agreed that the experience gave them at a small taste of the hunger that an estimated 1 billion people in the world feel every day.
The fasting portion of the event provided a palpable “realization that people are not able to eat,” explained Taryn Kosinski, who has participated in the event for three years.
“I wanted to participate because I wanted to see if I could do it,” said Jessica Ball, who joined the "famine" for the first time.
The group also spent time watching videos and playing games at Legacy Elementary School. Most of the games focused on Haiti.
Leaders let the younger participants choose their own tribes and then they were given paper cups with which to build houses. Then, they were sent into the hallway. When they returned to the cafeteria they found that there had been an earthquake. Their houses were toppled, some "villagers" had injuries that required them to wear slings, bandages and wraps. Many participants discovered that they had been displaced.
“This is simulated discomfort,” said Pastor Elliott Powell. “The kids will complain, but they are encouraged to deal with it. We are trying to put all of this in context with real life events.”
Another game required participants to gather water from unclean sources to show them the reality of what is happening in Haiti.
“These are educational activities,” said Brookens-Sturman. Powell added, “It symbolizes what happened to people after the earthquake.”
To add to the educational component, youth leaders showed World Vision videos about world famine.
“I’ve never seen something so horrifying or more gruesome. I can’t imagine the pain," said Sam Bates, attending the event for his second time. "Participating in this event makes me feel more connected to people and it actually scares me to see people going through it.”
Last year, the Brambleton group raised $11,000 for World Vision and set a goal of exceeding that number this year. They hope to raise $13,000 with each participant setting personal goals as well. Participants have the rest of this week to complete their fundraising and see if they succeeding in meeting their goal.
“Compared to famine, the fundraising is the easy part,” said Brittany Howard.
The teens broke their fast at noon on Sunday, thankful for food at their fingertips.