Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Month of dollar-a-day feedings for Malawians

Raising funds, awareness for southeast Africa centre

  • Print
Colin Vandenberg volunteers his time to raise money and awareness for the New Life Center in Malawi.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Colin Vandenberg volunteers his time to raise money and awareness for the New Life Center in Malawi. Photo Store

Most North Americans can only imagine living on $1 worth of food per day. Colin Vandenberg knows what it's like.

Vandenberg recently completed a month of hunger solidarity to raise awareness of what most people in Malawi, a country in southeast Africa, experience as a daily struggle. During the 30-day experiment, which ended last week, Vandenberg consumed no more than $1 worth of food each day.

For 30 days, his diet consisted mainly of beans and rice. He documented his experience by writing about it at foodforaday.wordpress.com.

The 29-year-old freelance photographer, who lives 100 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg near Grand Marais, also used the experience to raise funds for New Life Center.

Located in a community just outside of Lilongwe, Malawi's capital, New Life Center teaches farmers how to grow their food better. It aims to improve a family's ability to provide food for their children and open up further opportunities for them to get an education by raising their crop yields.

Vandenberg first became aware of New Life Center through Groundwork Opportunities, a California-based organization that supports projects around the world that work to end poverty. He volunteered with Groundwork Opportunities as a photographer for three weeks last November and December, travelling to Malawi to take photos of New Life Center's work so Groundwork can publicize the initiative.

Vandenberg had spent time in poverty-stricken areas of Africa before, but nonetheless found his experience in Malawi sobering.

As a documentary photographer, he believes it is important to have a certain degree of objectivity and separation from his subjects. While visiting health centres treating malnourished children, he had to suppress his emotions.

"I was there to be a witness, and it doesn't help anyone if I get caught up in my own emotions," he said.

When he returned to Canada, Vandenberg wondered what he might do with the emotions he felt during the trip.

"I don't want to become lost in this emotional response but I do want it to propel me to action. I wanted to do more than provide images."

As a result, Vandenberg devised his hunger- solidarity experiment. His goal was to raise $3,000 to put toward the $22,000 New Life Center needs for supplies and equipment.

The month-long experiment caused Vandenberg to evaluate his relationship with food.

In North America, he points out, eating is about more than nourishment and survival -- it's about pleasure. People eat until they no longer feel pleasure, or until they feel they should stop because they want to maintain a certain body image.

For Vandenberg, who typically eats simple, healthy meals, one of the biggest challenges of living on $1 worth of food per day was feeling a sense of separation from family and friends because he could not participate in meals with them by eating the same things they were.

Feeling hungry during the day also amplified stressful situations, Vandenberg said, giving him further insight into what Malawians experience.

"It's hard to feel like you can... get up and do good things in your life when you're feeling that constant pain and preoccupation," he said. "Food plays a bigger part in that than we think."

Vandenberg raised more than $800 during his hunger experiment and still hopes to reach his goal of $3,000. People interested in contributing can visit tinyurl.com/vandenbergmalawi for details.


If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 18, 2014 B5

History

Updated on Monday, August 18, 2014 at 10:44 AM CDT: Replaces photo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Theresa Oswald Leadership Bid

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.
  • RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS June 23, 2011 Local - A Monarch butterfly is perched on a flower  in the newly opened Butterfly Garden in Assiniboine Park Thursday morning.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on the Jets so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google