While the words 'hunger' and 'banquet' may sound odd together, they make perfect sense when explained by Oxfam, a community service organization established in 1995, with a mission to improve the lives of the less fortunate, all over the globe.
'Hunger Banquet', one of their most popular events essentially organizes participants into different 'worlds' -1st world representing the most fortunate countries like the USA, where food is plentiful, 2nd world, representing mid-tier economies like Argentina, and 3rd world, comprising of predominantly underdeveloped and impoverished countries like Ethiopia.
To make the 'banquet' as authentic as possible, the participants are divided by the percentage of population that resides in each 'world' - Not surprisingly, the largest pool ends up in the '3rd world', where a majority of the the world's population resides.
Each participant is then offered a meal that would be typical of what a person living in their 'world' would be able to afford. While the food differs every year, depending on the current hunger state in the different 'worlds', the rules remains the same - '1st world' residents get treated to a lavish, all-you-can-eat banquet, while 3rd world diners receive a handful of whatever is available - usually rice and some spices - AND there are no seconds, nor are they allowed to 'cheat' by eating another 'worlds' food.
The goal of this whole event is to make the participants realize how fortunate they are to expect three (or more) meals a day, especially given that the majority of the world's population is ecstatic to eat OR drink once daily!
While this may sound easy, especially since most of you know that you will heading home soon, where you can indulge, it really isn't. And, I know, since I got to experience it first-hand, when my school decided to take up the 'Hunger Banquet' challenge!
Out of approximately 400 students, only 35 lucky kids became the residents of '1st World' countries, while 200, including truly yours, ended up belonging to the '3rd World'.
My 'hearty' lunch comprised of one big spoonful of rice and beans with nothing but water to drink! As I ate and enviously watched the the '1st world' population feast on platefuls of food, I couldn't help but feel deep remorse for all the times I had wasted meals or taken my food for granted.
The funny part was, that even though my stomach was growling at the end of the meal, I could draw comfort from the fact, that I would have a great meal waiting for me, when I got home that evening - However, that is not the case for the person, whose meal I simulated - This was probably their only meal of the day.
I can't even imagine how they feel or worse if they feel anything at all, since this kind of malnourishment is part of their daily life. Never have I felt so guiltily fortunate, so spoiled, so overindulged. . . . . It is an experience that has caused me to re-assess my situation and vow to appreciate all that I have - even the broccoli and brussels sprouts that my mum insists on feeding me!
To learn about how you can organize your own 'Hunger Banquet' or to read more about Oxfam, check out http://actfast.oxfamamerica.org.