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41 hours of poverty eye opener

Twelve young people from Wesley Methodist Church in Papatoetoe spent 40 hours on a 50m2 platform to raise money as part of the World Vision 40 hour famine.

Despite the blustery weather and occasional shower they stayed reasonably dry under a hastily erected tarpaulin. They slept on mats or mattresses and entertained themselves with guitars and Ipods, and of course omnipresent cell phones.

Those passing by stopped to chat or tried to ignore their cries of “Please help us! Just a few coins for World Vision!” But their persistence paid off. Over the two days the people of Papatoetoe contributed just over $1400 towards their goal.

Rev Andre le Roux says that the group expects to top the $2000 mark when the individuals bring in the money they have raised from family and friends.

But the weekend was more than just fundraising for World Vision. The young people gained a small understanding of what it means to be really poor. They went without food for over 40 hours and felt the discomfort of hunger.

They experienced the boredom of being tied to one place with very little to do and had to beg for money to buy a tarpaulin for shelter. They went without their cell phones and Ipods for an afternoon and played with stones and bread tags instead. They even experienced a little injustice when they discovered that the end of daylight saving meant they fasted for 41 hours instead of 40!

“These young people were enthusiastic about the experience and did an awesome job with fundraising,” Andre says. We are very proud of all those who took part and thank Safeway Scaffolding for providing the platform.”

Faster Michael-Walter Lemanu said that the highlight of the weekend was how much money was raised. “Another highlight was a lowlight - getting a small experience of what it was like being poor.”

Another highlight was the screening of an interview with Bono from rock band U2. His obvious commitment to the poor and his challenge to Christians to care for the poor summed up the experience in the best possible way.

The 40 Hour Famine raises thousands of dollars for the poorest people of the world. Jonelle Cooper of World Vision responds with praise for the way young people throughout the country are getting behind the project.

“People are getting really creative, and the enthusiasm of the young people is absolutely incredible. It all goes a long way in providing the basics for children in need around the world.” The money raised will fund World Vision projects in 12 developing countries. Last year 126,000 Kiwis participated in the challenge and raised $2.67 million.

Next month two teams from Wesley Methodist Church will participate in the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km event to raise money for Oxfam’s work to alleviate poverty and injustice in the world.