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Foodgrains Bank plans tour

By James Buchok

04/15/2015

WINNIPEG — The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is inviting Canadian educators from different backgrounds to learn more about food security from an international perspective by travelling to Ethiopia in July.

The two-week International Food Security Learning Tour for Educators will include visits to community projects in Ethiopia supported by Canadian Foodgrains Bank and its network, and visits with other stakeholders such as the government of Ethiopia.

“Canadian Foodgrains Bank has a long history in the country and has numerous partners in Ethiopia,” said Roberta Gramlich, Youth Engagement co-ordinator for the Winnipeg-based Canadian Foodgrains Bank. “It is an area where we can see different kinds of projects that are responding to hunger.”

Gramlich said the group of six to 10 people will travel to Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, where they will learn more about the country, its history and the food security situation. “From there, we will travel north to visit various projects. One is in the Afar region, a remote area populated by pastoralists. Here we plan on visiting an irrigation project. We will also visit a ‘cash-for-work’ project where people are given food in exchange for work that they do rehabilitating the degraded farmland, which will ultimately lead to an increase in productivity. We will also make a tourist stop at the UNESCO world heritage rock-cut churches at Lalibela, a holy pilgrimage site for many Ethiopians.”

The tour aims to give participants a better understanding of issues in international development, global citizenship, food security and small-scale farming. They will also learn more about Canadian Foodgrains Bank and its network.

The trip is open to anyone in Canada 18 years or older, who is able to travel to Ethiopia, and who is an educator of children, youth or young adults. The cost of the trip is about $3,000 and funding may be available

Upon their return, participants will be asked to share what they have learned with the people in their home communities and in particular with the youth and educational systems in which they work and use the tools provided to them to engage young people on the issues of international food security.

Founded in 1983, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 Canadian churches and church-based agencies, including the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, working together to end global hunger.

All tour participants are asked to have a consultation with a travel health clinic prior to the trip in order to receive information about recommended medications and vaccinations.

“Ethiopia is the country where the Foodgrains Bank has had the longest continuing presence,” Gramlich said. “In fact, some say that Ethiopia could be called the birthplace of the Foodgrains Bank. The Foodgrains Bank was only one year old when the 1984 — 85 famine hit that country. With generous donations and increased funding from the Canadian government, the Foodgrains Bank mobilized a massive food relief effort. Just under 110,000 tonnes of food were supplied to meet emergency food needs over the next three years.”

Since that time, said Gramlich, the Foodgrains Bank has continued to provide food and other agricultural assistance in Ethiopia.

“Our vision is for God’s people to build a community where hunger is unacceptable,” Gramlich said. “Over 800 million people worldwide live with chronic hunger. When we realize this statistic is not about numbers, but about our sisters and brothers, our outlook and responses change. This is a primary goal of the tour.”

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