Bettina Leuscher was the first of two keynote speakers for the PRSA National Conference held simultaneously with the PRSSA National Conference in Washington, D.C. last weekend. Ms. Leuscher is the Chief Spokesperson for the North America United Nations World Food Program. The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide that works to bring the issue of hunger to the center of the international agenda. It strives to reach more than 90 million people with food assistance in 73 countries, working hard to get food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters (credit PRSSA.org/conference).
Leuscher shared examples and pictures from places the World Food Program has helped, such as Haiti, Pakistan, Darfur and Afghanistan. To say that her experiences were heart wrenching and moving would be an understatement. Her stories emanated a powerful message; There are more than 1 billion going hungry in the world, many of which are children. Hunger kills more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, and while there is definitely enough food in the world to feed everyone, resources are unevenly distributed and many starve. We, as Americans, were blessed to be born in a nation that is not overwhelmed by poverty and hunger, and each of us have it in our own individual power to help those that do not have enough to eat.
Leuscher stressed the Red Cup Initiative that gives children a cup for school meals. The goals of this mission are two fold: to feed children and keep them in school. The promise of a hot meal at school gives families incentives to keep sending their children. For many children, girls especially, the red cup is a symbol of empowerment because they are getting an education many of their parents will never have. Leuscher cited Afghanistan as an example where the WFP has given female children extra rations of food to counter a culture that does not value female education, and to make families want to send their girls to school, if for no other reason than to get extra food rations.
Bettina Leuscher’s speech was powerful and I think inspired the audience to use their position as communicators to promote important causes. I left this speech feeling like, with my job, I could go out and change the world…or at least change someone’s world. Visit http://www.wfp.org/how-to-help to see how you can help!!
Stacy Merrick, President