Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of spending time and having some deep conversations with some amazing people from a variety of walks of life. The conversations were incredible, focused on sustainability and the difference people can make in the lives of others, and these men and women were inspiring.
Nick Aster, CEO of TriplePundit.com, Marsha Diamond with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dr. Jim Carrington, head of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Roger Johnson of the National Farmers Union, Jonathan Berger with the Consumer Goods Forum, Andre Guimareaes of Conservation International Brazil, and many others had many powerful things to say.
But there was one man, with whom I must have talked for more than two hours, who was the most inspiring of them all.
Ambassador Hall is the kind of man who leaves you inspired to make a difference. He’s a former member of Congress, a former US Ambassador to the UN and head of the US Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome (which include the FAO, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development), and the current director of The Alliance to End Hunger. In his 20s, the Ambassador was even in the Peace Corp in Thailand, he’s been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize three times, and he’s written a book about his experiences.
And he is involved in the real hunger games. Where winning means lives are saved and where losing means watching children die.
I sat next to him and watched his emotions stir as he described his history.
The determination to save hunger efforts in Congress in 1993 that were being cut off and the 22-day starvation protest he undertook to try to stop the ‘conscience of the Congress’ from being silenced.
The elation that his starvation protest—he calls it a fast—resulted in private donors coming forward and investing millions of dollars in efforts to stop hunger in the US and overseas.
The hopelessness of working in refugee camps, surrounded by tens of thousands of starving people, and only being able to save some. Watching hundreds of children starve to death left a lasting impact on the Ambassador.
The frustration working as a US Ambassador, trying to help starving people around the world, and having to battle against politics and petty turf wars.
And the excitement and passion in his current role as director of The Alliance to End Hunger, a non-profit organization that is working to develop partnerships focused on ending hunger worldwide.
And everyone sitting around the table was riveted. You could hear it in their silence. Ambassador Hall was telling a human story. A powerful story. A story of hunger, and the daily fight for food. And his vision for a world where no one goes to bed hungry, either in the US where 5.4 percent of households deal with hunger and lack of food, or worldwide, where 925 million people, or almost 1 in 7 people, are hungry.
It’s a huge challenge. But the Alliance’s work in fostering strategic partnerships, building political will, and creating global connections, just might be able to meet that challenge.
But only if we all work together, and decide, we’re done with hunger.