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ViewChange: Challenging Hunger
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ViewChange: Challenging Hunger
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Small Change = Big Idea
Chronic hunger affects one billion people around the world on a daily basis. How are aid groups, rural farmers, and other innovators working together to feed the planet? Find out in this special from Bread for the World and ViewChange.org.
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Produced by Link TV and Bread for the World.
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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Next up: two migrant farmers get a new chance to grow their own food, to make a living wage, and to return to Mexico and their families. From Ethiopia to Bangladesh, see how aid groups and entrepreneurs are working to put hunger out of business in this special report from Bread for the World and ViewChange.org.
VOICEOVER
Having enough to eat is a basic human right, one that almost a billion people don’t have. That’s a billion people who go for days and weeks without enough food to feed themselves and their families. In the poorest regions of the world, chronic hunger is a steady drumbeat of life.
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Hunger around the world: Asia/Pacific: 578 million, Sub-Saharan Africa: 239 million, Latin America/Caribbean: 53 million, Near East/North Africa: 37 million, Developed Countries: 19 million.
VOICEOVER
And it’s a situation that becomes even direr in emergencies. Right now, across the horn of Africa, droughts have triggered a food emergency so desperate that more than ten million people are relying on food aid. But chronic hunger doesn’t have to be the status quo. Smart investments from governments and aid groups are helping the hungry to weather the worst emergencies and become resilient against future crises. And the ripple effects of hunger are huge. Take Mexico, for example. Every year, thousands of migrants see the US as the last option for finding work to feed their families. But in this story from Bread for the World, two men are given a new choice: to stay in their country.
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Stay, Bread for the World, Mexico
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Chiapas, Mexico
MARVIN GARCIA SALAS [Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico]
I was happy yesterday. You know why? I was waiting in the street outside the hospital, and a group of students said, "Come! Have a little bit of coffee and some bread." If society had the same attitude, the world would be better.
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Oaxaca, Mexico
SANTIAGO CRUZ [San Miguel Huautla, Oaxaca, Mexico]
Unfortunately, the government has abandoned the Mexican countryside. The results are never good. I decided to migrate [to North America] because I have a large family and there isn't any money in this community, there are no sources of income, nothing.
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Sixty percent of unauthorized immigration to the US comes from Mexico. They come to escape poverty. In 2009, 96 percent of US foreign assistance to Mexico went toward military and drug enforcement. Investing in rural areas of Mexico instead can help reduce the pressure to migrate.
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Stay: Migration and poverty in rural Mexico
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Permanecer: Migración y pobreza en el México rural
MARVIN GARCIA SALAS
The reason I went to the US was because I wanted to progress. Not that I didn’t have work here, but peoples’ stories made it sound so much easier to earn money in the United States. That was the reason my family agreed it would be better to try my luck there. And I went there for the first time in 1998. My wife Victoria stayed here with the kids. I made it across the border, but it was a really bad experience. For example, when I was at the border, when I was crossing, I was robbed by bandits, "cholos." It was a bitter experience. I had different jobs. I picked tomatoes. I picked chilies. And in six months, I was able to save 8,000 pesos [USD$675]. Eight thousand pesos, here in Mexico, I couldn’t make that in six months.
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After returning to Mexico due to health issues, Marvin and his wife bought land in Chiapas with the help of a US nonprofit called AGROS. Today, Marvin and his wife grow the crops that support their family.
MARVIN GARCIA SALAS
We found land that we can work on. Victoria and I were excited about this from the very beginning. It was a project to help people help themselves. It hasn’t been easy. We need more resources.
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Marvin’s wife, Victoria, is a community activist who sometimes works out of town for many days. Which means Marvin is often the family’s primary caretaker.
MARVIN GARCIA SALAS
She has had responsibilities that have been difficult for me. Now that my children are older, it’s easier. But when they were smaller I had to take care of them. I had to cook or change their diapers. There were moments when they were little that I had to carry them because they were crying or feeling bad. Sometimes people were saying, “Why are you doing domestic work, women’s work?” And I said: “I feel good. Both of us are parents to these children. We both have to take care of them.” I want to do a lot of things. But unfortunately, there are some barriers that don’t let us develop.
SUSAN BIRD [Program Officer, Ford Foundation, Mexico]
What we see more and more is this - the rite of passage, this idea that young people, specifically, can no longer make it in their communities and it's no longer interesting to them. My name is Susan Bird. I'm a program officer with the Ford Foundation in Mexico. And so they kind of wait for the day that they can leave. That's the saddest thing I think, is the cultural loss. You know, you see communities, entire communities made up of children and grandparents and there's a whole generation that is missing.
SANTIAGO CRUZ
I hope most of my children don’t migrate. Most of them would live here in my town. In our grandparents' time, our land was more productive. They harvested more. Now the land is deteriorating, depleted. We need more ideas, more techniques, and more innovation to be more productive. It’s difficult, you know? This is a very poor, rural area of Mexico. That’s why I decided to migrate. I looked for the possibility of migrating legally. And I made it to Canada.
VICTORIA MARTINEZ LOPEZ [Santiago's Wife]
So, he had the opportunity to go. And he left, but I was left behind alone with my children. Among all of us, we divided his chores. That was very hard.
SANTIAGO CRUZ
The first season was very difficult. I was very lonely. It was very difficult to get used to another country, another culture, you know, the customs. It was difficult.
VICTORIA MARTINEZ LOPEZ
We were not accustomed to being without him. It felt like he was gone a very long time.
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When Santiago returned from Canada in 2008, he and Victoria got involved with CEDICAM – a Mexican nonprofit partnered with Catholic Relief Services. Through CEDICAM they are learning sustainable farming techniques. They can now support their family and Santiago can stay in San Miguel Huautla.
SANTIAGO CRUZ
CEDICAM has helped us to improve the soil naturally without chemicals. Before CEDICAM I wanted to migrate to the city again. Or migrate again. Or migrate indefinitely. But now with CEDICAM it’s a form of affirmation that my place is in the countryside. I feel like I’m in touch with nature. It feels good. Through CEDICAM I am motivated. I’m aware that I need to teach my children how to work the land.
VICTORIA MARTINEZ LOPEZ
My children? I don’t want them to migrate because I think it’s bad, no? Because they suffer. But if we had education and more opportunities to sustain ourselves in the countryside, we wouldn’t have to leave.
VOICEOVER
Poverty and hunger are the biggest reasons for unauthorized immigration to the US, and programs like these aim to alleviate both. Ultimately, AGROS and other groups hope to stem the tide of emigration from Latin America, one family at a time.

Segment 2

VOICEOVER
As the world grapples with an economic downturn, there’s talk of cutting back on foreign assistance. It’s not surprising -- Americans on average think that 25 percent of the federal budget goes to foreign aid. But how much actually gets spent? About one percent. And experts say the return on that tiny investment is huge: the money is used to fund agriculture, nutrition, and health programs -- investments that are already saving millions of lives.
VOICEOVER
Big change with a little money can work on the grassroots level, too. Bangladesh is the birthplace of the microcredit movement -- there, economist Muhammad Yunus has turned traditional banking on its head. In places like Bangladesh, this new way of banking can keep communities from sliding into chronic hunger. This next film from the Sundance Institute explains how.
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Small Change = Big Idea, Glenn Baker, Bangladesh
VOICEOVER
Two-fifths of the people on Earth earn less than USD$2 a day. In Bangladesh, where four-fifths of the people earn less than USD$2 daily, the poor are increasingly demanding one thing: a safe place to save.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED [Chairperson, BRAC]
I think the poor need savings more than anybody else.
VOICEOVER
Fazle Abed heads BRAC, the largest non-governmental organization in the world, which works to empower the poor in nine countries and in 70,000 villages across Bangladesh.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED
Their earning is irregular, they need to save more. There are too many days where there is no food in the household, so if they don't save, they starve.
SOKHINA BEGUM
We are farmers, so it is difficult to tell our income per month.
VOICEOVER
Sokhina Begum lives on a "nomadic island," one of thousands of shifting silt bars in the vast Jamuna River. This is one of the poorest areas in Bangladesh.
SOKHINA BEGUM
Some months there's work, so my husband earns good money, and some months are bad. In a good month, my husband brings home USD$28 to USD$35.
VOICEOVER
In a scene played out in villages throughout Bangladesh, Sokhina takes her passbook to a savings meeting organized by a local NGO, where she makes a cash deposit.
SOKHINA BEGUM
We save 15 cents each week.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS [Founder, Grameen Bank]
The poor have all the uncertainties around them. All the risks around them. Savings is one strategy to protect from those uncertainties. Uncertainties come from any direction: from the family direction there may be uncertainties, that nobody's earning money, or it can come from the weather, just a disaster, a flood.
SOKHINA BEGUM
Whatever we had was destroyed by the river. Everything we have is rented. In our family we have nothing to inherit. Savings gives me confidence, knowing I have it in case of emergency. I hope to have more in the future.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
Without that savings, the way you'll fall down from the present position, savings is protecting you, keep to that level where you are so that you don't slide back into the terrible situation that you were in. So gradually, step by step, you move your levels, and savings are the one that holds you at that position.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED
When people start savings, they're looking forward to something, and then gradually they can build up something to invest.
VOICEOVER
Traditionally, banks have not catered to the poor.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
We're talking about the rural population. Commercial banks are not there.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED
You find that banks are not really interested in poor people's small sums of money. And that's the reason why some of the social development organizations such as BRAC have gone into providing this service for the poor.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
The basic principle of Grameen Bank is, people should not come to the bank, bank should go to the people. So we are going to all these 8 million plus borrowers in all the thousands of villages where they live.
HELENA AKHTER
My name is Mrs. Helena Akhter and I'm 27 years old. I have one daughter. She is 12. I've been saving for the last eight years. I can make 10 mats a day and sell them for 25 cents each. I put 30-45 cents into savings each week, and any extra money I earn, I also save there. My hopes are to provide my daughter with a good education and to raise her to be a good human being, to manage my family, and to be a better person myself.
VOICEOVER
Across Bangladesh, mobile technology is creating easy access to safe places to save.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED
BRAC Bank has now got a license from Bangladesh Central Bank to try and mobilize savings through cell phones.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
You can provide all kinds of banking services with a mobile phone. Health services. Educational services. You have no boundary where it stops.
MAN [Cell phone salesman]
Demand [for mobile phones] has spread throughout the villages. Every family has four, five, ten phones, and then they come back for more.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
It came and conquered the whole country. It's everywhere right now. We have over 58 million subscribers in a country of 150 million people.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED
It will certainly change the vulnerability of the poor, being able to have access to savings.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
What happens the next ten years is up to us to decide. So whatever imagination we can bring in, whatever vision we can bring in, we can make it happen.
SAMEDA BIBI
My name is Sameda Bibi, age 50. My home is in Narayanpur, Bogra district. I've been saving for the last four years; I use it for banana cultivation. The savings helps me face any problem in the family, maybe to get new land to cultivate, maybe to get goats or cows for dairy. My savings are helping us prepare for the future. To be able to eat, to provide, to grow -- that's real happiness for me.
VOICEOVER
The Grameen Bank reaches 97 percent of the country, and has influenced the banking industry in Bangladesh and beyond. Whether or not microfinance is the silver bullet for poverty is another story, and it’s a question that economists and scholars are studying today.

Segment 3

VOICEOVER
Providing assistance during urgent food emergencies is important, but it’s not enough. Innovators in hunger relief are working on ways to help farmers and communities cope with longer-term problems, problems like droughts and climate change that disrupt growing seasons. In one village in Ethiopia, a local organization is tapping directly into the deep knowledge of the village women, creating programs that will protect them during good times and bad. This short film from Oxfam shows how.
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Hardest Hit: Ethiopia, Alan Grazioso, Ethiopia
TERUFUA BAGAJO [DEWS Data Collector]
The climate is changing. Every year the amount of rain is decreasing. What all people are feeling is fear, fear of what they will face tomorrow.
LOKO DADACHA [Community Leader]
There is an acute shortage of water, especially clean water. Our children are suffering from hunger.
MAJORA CARTER
Human life began in this region of Africa. While the people of Ethiopia have always had to cope with droughts, climate change is making things even worse, bringing about more unpredictable weather and more frequent and severe droughts.
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Ethiopia, Addis Ababa
TITA MEKONNEN [Aid Worker, Ethiopia]
In the last major rainy season, this area received rain only for five days, so the ponds are not storing enough water, not enough pasture is growing, and the crops are failing. If the natural resource is not doing well, the livestock cannot survive, and if the livestock cannot do well, the people cannot survive.
MAJORA CARTER
The Borena people who live here are herders and depend on their animals for food and income.
LOKO DADACHA
During the dry season it takes six hours a day to gather water. Over the years, rainfall has decreased.
MAJORA CARTER
Villagers must rely on water from the same pond where animals drink.
ADI TADHICHA [Community Member]
We need to rehabilitate the pond and keep it clean.
MAJORA CARTER
One new strategy this community has undertaken is a drought early warning system called DEWS. That helps turn the deep knowledge women have of their communities into action. It's a partnership between villagers and a local group called the Gayo Pastoralist Development Initiative.
TEREFUA BAGAJO
My name is Terefua Bagajo. I'm a data collector. Every month I come to this area and collect data from five women and report that to Gayo. My questionnaire has 25 questions on sanitation, clean water, food, livestock, and pasture, as well as health. In our community, women are the first to feel the effect of drought. They know best about problems in the home, with children and the cattle. They know about shortage of food and water. They know what it means to have something and then lose it. That's why we collect data from them.
MAJORA CARTER
That information gets plotted on a graph, and when spikes reveal trouble, that triggers action. The community is key to identifying solutions.
KALICHA CHACHU [Community Elder]
Sitting idle is good for nothing. It does not sustain or change your life. So we rehabilitate ponds. We are also clearing invasive bushes and preparing rangeland.
MAJORA CARTER
Local solutions include deepening and repairing ponds so they'll hold more water, distributing drought-tolerant goats to help families rebuild their herds, and improving public health by building latrines.
LOKO DADACHA
We benefitted from these projects and were able to make it through the last drought. If you're asking me what I wish, it's to get enough rain and grass and pasture. I wish to become self-sufficient.
VOICEOVER
The solutions to chronic hunger are as complex as the challenges. But without smart investment in those solutions, the next food crisis will be just as devastating. The investments may be big or small -- from helping one farmer grow his own food, or another prepare for the dry season ahead; to creating a new system of finance for an entire region. Together, though, they make the biggest difference -- between a world that can feed itself, and a world that can’t.
VOICEOVER
Want to learn more about immigration, food security, or anything else you saw here? Head over to ViewChange.org/tv, where you can watch, read, and get involved in projects that are making a real difference. Watch the films you just saw, and over three hundred and fifty more from around the world, at ViewChange.org/tv.
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[End credits]
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A co-production of Bread for the World and Link TV. To learn more, visit www.bread.org. With support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.