Two local educators return from Ethiopia

The pair take part in learning tour offered by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Sally Van Geest and Sheri Kampman with a bag of famix

Sally Van Geest and Sheri Kampman, both of Abbotsford, have just returned from Ethiopia, where they spent the first part of their summer learning about global hunger and food security

Van Geest, a teacher at Abbotsford Christian School, and Kampman, a farmer and 4H leader, were part of an international food security learning tour for educators organized by Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end global hunger.

The group arrived in Ethiopia on July 3 and spent close to two weeks in the country.

They visited community development and emergency food relief projects supported by Foodgrains Bank.

One of the projects the group visited is providing food to orphaned and vulnerable children and the people who care for them.

Another project is helping a nomadic tribe in the northern part of the country integrate farming into their traditionally nomadic, pastoralist lifestyle.

Van Geest said she feels privileged to have been part of the tour.

“This experience has changed my thinking about this country and the needs of the people,” she said. “I am much more aware of the complexities and realities of food scarcity and have genuine admiration for the far-reaching work of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.”

Many Canadians still recall the Ethiopian famine of the 1980s. While today the country’s food supply is much more secure, many people still struggle to feed their families. Climate change, environmental degradation and poverty remain challenges.

Foodgrains Bank learning tours focus on three main goals, said Roberta Gramlich, tour organizer and youth engagement co-ordinator for the Foodgrains Bank.

“There’s a focus on building a sense of global community, learning about food security, and seeing how Foodgrains Bank member agencies are responding to the needs of hungry people around the world.”

The group also visited the Ethiopian Ministry of Disaster Management and Food Security Sector and the World Food Programme to learn more about other programs that are working toward a more food-secure country.

This is the first tour that the Foodgrains Bank has organized specifically for educators.

“These are some of the people who are most connected to Canadian youth. By facilitating their learning about global food security, they can better inform the young people with whom they work,” Gramlich said.

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