It was a 40 Hour Famine like no other – one that saw nearly 100,000 New Zealanders take on unique challenges to raise funds for the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time.
For the first time ever an emergency situation, the Syrian refugee crisis, was at the centre of this year’s 40 Hour Famine with funds raised set to go towards World Vision’s child-friendly spaces for refugees in Jordan. They provide safe spaces, education, and psychological healing to children that have suffered from trauma due to the conflict.
Chris Clarke, World Vision New Zealand CEO is in awe of the efforts made by Kiwis this year.
“We are so grateful to everyone that participated in the 40 Hour Famine over the weekend. Whether you lived out of a backpack, gave up food for 40 hours, or walked 60km we appreicate your effort in support of World Vision work,” Clarke says.
“This was the first time in 41 years that the focus of the 40 Hour Famine changed and it really stuck a chord with Kiwis. I think what refugees are going through really resonates with New Zealanders because we recognise that although it's unlikely to happen to us here in New Zealand, there's a sense that we are all parents, brothers and sisters,” says Clarke.
The variety of activities, which took place around the country over the weekend reinforced the rite of passage New Zealanders have to the long-time tradition.
In Nelson, 14 year old Xan Twissell raised $1,503 by skating for 24 hours at Trafalgar Park, ignoring achy legs and fatigue.
In the Bay of Plenty, Bethlehem College head girl Eloise Wilson walked 60 kilometres in 24 hours to understand the challenges faced by Syrian refugees, tallying over $600.
Aucklander and World Vision Youth Ambassador Jay Adams organised a minecraft event called HungerDrive at the Idea Collective at MOTAT, uniting more than 2,000 gamers who helped build a virtual life-sized refugee camp in 40 hours and donated more than $2,300.
Age was no limit either - 75 year old Marton resident Margaret Leersnyder went without food for 40 hours, consuming just honey lollies and drinking fruit juice. This year marked her 30th year doing the 40 Hour Famine – in that time she’s raised over $17,000.
Queenstown schoolgirls braved the cold as they camped in a cage without food for 40 hours in the centre of Queenstown, raising $7,500 in their efforts.
Other Kiwis, including 40 Hour Famine celebrity ambassadors, actors Kimberley Crossman, Grace Palmer, Jayden Daniels, Reuben Milner and The Edge presenters Marty Hehewerth and Stephanie Monks swapped their everyday luxuries for the bare necessities, living out of a backpack for 40 hours.
While the 40 Hour Famine is complete, it’s not too late to show your support. You can still make donations to the 40 Hour Famine at famine.org.nz.
The total amount raised this year will be announced in August once all funds have been banked.