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close this bookA Better World in 2020 - Wake-Up Calls from the Next Generation (IFPRI, 2001, 34 p.)
close this folderEssay Competition Runner Up
View the documentTime and Space Have Collapsed
View the documentMy Vision for Ending Hunger
View the documentA Story
View the documentHow Can We End Hunger in the World?

Time and Space Have Collapsed

Achinette Joy B. Villamor
18 years old
Cebu City, Philippines


Poster by

Julie Lund Zatiri
Class 3
Hoptrupskole Haderslev, Denmark

In the blink of an eye, the world has become so much smaller with advanced technology. Communication is only a fingerpoint away. In a matter of minutes, international transactions can be completed through electronic mail and cell phones. Computer networks are democratizing access to information. Airplanes and jetplanes are making next door neighbors of Asia and Africa. Indeed, with so many sophisticated technologies, worldwide linkage has become a byword. Time and space have collapsed. But the world still starves.

I speak as a Filipino youth with my historic burden of poverty and want. I live life everyday in candid black and white. While I eat three square meals a day, many families lie huddled together on torn-woven mats, sleeping away their pangs of hunger. On my way to school everyday, I see barefoot, filthy street kids rummaging inside the garbage can for morsels of food - bits and pieces of scraps that even the dogs won’t eat. On the papers, on radios, and even on their national TV, I hear of and see farmers who, having paid for their land in sweat and watered it with blood, now bemoan of lands made barren by systematic exploitation and improper cultivation. Poverty is stamped on every toiling man’s paycheck. Reality lies in seeing faces twisted in hunger-stricken grimace.

This is the bitter truth that I live with everyday. This is the bitter truth that I keep hoping to change.

There are things that we can negotiate. Or even compromise. Food is not among them. It never was, it never will be. It is the nation’s lifeblood. And as such, food should be a driving priority for every country that prides itself on a humane, just, and equitable economic policy. And there lies the catch. For countries like the Philippines totally bereft of funding, technical know-how, agro-ecological technology, and manpower, asking for genuine food security is like chasing phantoms in the mist. We cannot achieve this on our own. We cannot ensure, or even realize, a sustainable food security program without the help of the rest of the world. The disparity in the food supply between rich and poor countries is but another testimony to the driving need for international cooperation. Food security must be the collective effort that would bring the rest of humanity together.

This is not asking for a transient piece of the moon. Every country in the world, every person in the planet, every man and woman - young or old, rich and poor alike - can do so much to protect, ensure, and uphold the continuity of human existence through sustainable food security. How? For one, economically advanced and powerful countries like the United States, Japan, Canada, the UK, and many others could help facilitate and maximize information exchange among all agricultural countries. This information exchange would verify, test, and disseminate crop and crop-based technologies that will solve location-specific problems in crop production. Then, after the initial information exchange program, an International Council for Food Security could be organized. This council would allocate funds coming from an international aid for countries who need financial help in shifting their comprehensive agricultural reforms program into high gear. This council would also be in-charge of providing timely information for policy formulation that will stimulate food production, marketing and distribution as well as consumer consumption. Coordination of the international network of food stations in the different parts of the globe, formulation and implementation of a comprehensive and extensive human resource training and development program that will enhance the performance of the crop industry, and the development and testing of alternative food technology would also be under the direct jurisdiction of the council. For their part also, the countries under the council’s program should make food security a paramount national priority. In this manner, the problem of sustainable food supply would be addressed critically.

This is a vision we should all take heart with. This is a ray of hope we should all cling to. In spite of the hunger and deprivation amidst the widespread misery and suffering around us, let us continue our fight for collective survival. We hold in our mortal hands the power to put an end to all forms of human starvation, poverty, and want. We have it in our power to redeem ourselves... or destroy our future forever. Let us not forget that we all help shape the fate of humanity. The challenge has been handed. Let us go forth from this time and place, break through the barriers of atavism and festering individualism and work together towards a common, unifying goal. Together we can end world hunger. Together, we can protect, ensure, and uphold global food security.

This is the only lasting legacy that we could leave to those who would come after us. Years from now, my kids are going to ask me what part I played in ensuring sustainable food security. Years from now, my kids are going to ask me what part I played in changing the world.

I will tell them I was one of those who tried to make a difference.


Poster by

Class 5b
GHS August-Macke-Schule
Bonn, Germany

Unflinching Eyes

I see the dusty ground
Soil not fertile, people not fed
I pass them by without a sound
Wondering what right might be said

What right might be done
For the hunger, the poverty which is their life
If only I could help out at least one
Fill their mouth and ease their strife

And then I am lost in the unflinching eyes of a starving boy
And realize he is my age and he could have been me
I could have been him, a malnourished boy
His suffering: even more than I could bear to see

And eight-hundred million just like him
Around the globe, they’re starved to the bone
All the while their visions grow dim
What hope do they have when little effort is shown

Jordana Reim
17 years old
Skillman, New Jersey, USA

La Nina

Over the horizon
The sun rises with
Light creeping
Over the desolate bare land
Revealing nothing
But the horrors of the land
The sky is
Still as naked as ever

The wind howls
Through the dry baobab trees
The once green land
Now bare and cracked
Slowly the village wakes
To face the new day

A hunter sits
In the shadow of a rock
A farmer leans
On the thatched house
With his jembe in hand
A mother slowly rocks
Her dying baby

They cast their eyes to the sky
Why are the gods punishing us
A far distance off
The cries are heard
Yes, yes, this must be done
The gods must be pleased
Bony as it may be
The goat must be sacrificed

The village gathers
Around the alter
Surely this will do it
They will hear
And answer us
Hope shows in their faces
As the smoke slowly
Rises to the sky

El Nino -The Abyss of Despair

The people wanted rain
It came down in torrents
The angry winds blew
And thunder roared

The rice paddles turned to lakes
The sandy beaches washed away
As the fountains of the sky burst forth
And the floodgates of heaven opened

Helter skelter the parents run
Pressed with a thousand cares
And home skips the little children
With no care in the world In the abyss of despair
The people look at the once blue skies
As drops or rain fiercely splash
Destroying a man’s labor and toil

The sun forever lost in the sky
With her clouds dinging close together
As everyone packs their housewares
But no one was prepared for this sudden storm

Priscillah Wanjeri
15 years old
Nairobi, Kenya