This week, we have invited Jennifer Dempsey, a member of Dunwoody United Methodist Church in Atlanta, GA, to share a bit about her recent trip to visit our Kenyan distribution partner, Mully Children’s Family. Dunwoody UMC has been a long-time packaging partner of Rise Against Hunger, packaging their first meals in the fall of 2010. Since then, they have engaged over 11,400 volunteers to package 2.7 million meals. The meals they packaged have been distributed in Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Mozambique, Zambia, Belize, Honduras, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Somalia and the Philippines. Take it away, Jennifer!
Every year our church holds an event called Foodstock. It’s a day-long affair where Dunwoody United Methodist partners with Rise Against Hunger to package over 300,000 nutritious meals. Volunteers from ages 5 to 95 form large assembly lines to bag the meals, all while rocking our hairnets and listening to 80’s pop music. We ultimately fill an entire shipping container, nearly 20 tons of food (285,120 meals), that are shipped to those in need.
Admittedly, to many of us, ‘those in need’ is a foreign concept. Like the ending to a movie, we picture our cargo container sailing off towards the sunset, but we rarely think about those who actually receive it.
A recent vision/mission trip took some of our church members to Ndalani, Kenya, a small community two hours outside of Nairobi. The small African village is home to Mully Children’s Family (MCF), a non-profit organization that provides critical support to high-risk children.
Over the last 30 years, MCF has helped over 15,000 children have a brighter future through education, advocacy, community outreach, disaster relief and environmental conservation. MCF is a meal distribution partner* of Rise Against Hunger, and our team was thrilled to work with them to deliver and serve meals just like the ones our church has packaged during our Foodstock events.
What a joy to be able to deliver food to those facing hunger, but we were deeply impacted by witnessing poverty firsthand. Our team was able to hand-deliver Rise Against Hunger boxes to several families, who hugged our necks in extreme gratitude knowing they could now provide food for their loved ones.
We also had the opportunity to deliver Rise Against Hunger meals to two primary schools, as well as serve these meals to several hundred students. What a God-filled experience to see the light shine in their eyes at the prospect of a hot meal. So often Kenyans are caught in a vicious cycle of hunger vs. education. When they don’t have food at home, they don’t have the energy to go to school. Or if a community as a whole is facing a food shortage, schools are closed because they can’t provide meals for the children either. Simply put: kids can’t get an education when they are hungry.
These experiences crystallized the important work that Rise Against Hunger and MCF is doing, but it also made our hearts ache to see families in need, and we wanted to do so much more. As we said our goodbyes, many hugs were given, tears shed and prayers shared.
We’ve now seen ‘those in need’ firsthand – we’ve looked into their eyes and we’ve held their hands. These are moments – and people – we will never forget.
Just like Jennifer, you can change the lives of children and families all around the world. Help us to bring hope, education and brighter futures to people around the globe this holiday season. Donate now to support our initiatives to nourish lives and uplift communities around the globe, just like the one Jennifer describes in Kenya.
*Rise Against Hunger partner Forever Living Products generously packaged 285,522 meals at its annual rally in Stockholm, Sweden, which were distributed to Mully Children’s Family by Dunwoody volunteers during this trip.