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They were starving by two o’clock

55 students at École secondaire publique Odyssée's spent the better part of the weekend Tweeting, Facebooking, playing games, camping as they raised $1,300 for World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine challenge.

55 students at École secondaire publique Odyssée's spent the better part of the weekend Tweeting, Facebooking, playing games, camping as they raised $1,300 for World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine challenge.

Students at École secondaire publique Odyssée's didn’t just talk the talk they walked the walk by taking up World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine challenge.

Joining with other students around the globe to learn about hunger and raising funds to help feed starving children around the world, the kids at Odyssée pledged to give up food for a day.

They kicked off their fast at at 8:30am on Friday
and spent the next 30-hours at the high school, Tweeting, Facebooking, playing games, camping and realizing what it means to go hungry.

Student organizer Kurt Tempelmans Plat says participation in the event almost tripled in size going from 20 students in 2010 to 55 students this year. He says learning firsthand what it means to go without a meal is a true eye opener.

“At first we meet and say we’re going to raise money and then we’re going to do this event afterwards to kind of experience what those in Africa feel,” he explains.

“So after we get here it’s just it starts off pretty easy you know you go through your regular day of school and then it starts to hit oh you know you’re hungry, oh you can’t eat, you know when kids in Africa say ‘I’m hungry’ they can’t just eat whenever they want because they only have a specific portion at a specific time of day.”

“And then you really realize wow I can take for granted when I want to eat, what I want to eat and they only get a small portion at a certain time, so it really strikes the kids it’s an eye opener really.”

Over the course of 30 hours the students learn facts like;

- FACT: Hunger kills another child every 10 seconds.
Every day, nearly 8,000 kids under age 5 die because of hunger-related causes. Some starve. Some get sick — and their hungry bodies are just too weak to fight.
And that’s not the half of it. In all, more than 24,000 kids lose their lives each day, most of them to poverty, disease, and, yes . . . hunger.

- FACT: More than 1 billion people go hungry every day.
There are more than 6 billion people on the planet. One in six will go to bed hungry tonight.
Why so many? For some families, the only food they have is whatever they can grow themselves. One drought or flood can wipe out a year’s harvest. When it does, there’s no supermarket or food bank they can turn to.
Others can barely afford food for their families, despite their best efforts. Either way, hunger is anything but yesterday’s problem. For 1 billion people, it’s a problem right now.

- FACT: Hunger traps people in poverty.
The poor spend most of their money just trying not to starve.

- FACT: Hunger hurts children.
Even if it doesn’t kill, hunger can have lasting effects on a child’s well-being.
Hunger starves the brain. Malnourished kids often miss school, or do poorly, because they’re unable to concentrate. Without good nutrition, a child’s heart literally shrinks. Their immune system weakens, leaving them more vulnerable to disease.
Kids who are even moderately underweight are four times more likely to die from disease. In other words, 145 million hungry children — 1 in 3 kids in developing countries — are at risk of dying.

Plat admits the 30 Hour Famine serves as a reminder of just how lucky most Canadian kids are, but he says he is aware that there are kids right here in the area that are going without food as well.

“I mention it to the kids that this isn’t just happening in Africa it’s also happening in our communities, in our province, in our country it just really again is a culture shock when they really realize this isn’t just in Africa. Like the main goal is Africa because that’s where the majority is, but for them to realize wow this is happening right in the city and it could be happening to our neighbours for all we know, it’s just a really big eye opener.”

Fellow student Cassidy Sigouin works in a restaurant and says participating in the 30 Hour Famine has her rethinking the role food plays in her life.

In the end the students raised $1,300.

*Fact list from World Vision website