For the third year in a row, I will be embarking on a 100-mile walk aimed at raising awareness and money to fight hunger in the United States and around the world. An important part of my walk will be to let people know about the thousands of volunteers who turn out each year to organize and participate in community Walks that fight hunger and poverty at home and around the world.
CWS sponsors CROP Hunger Walks in more than 1,800 communities throughout the United States. The multi-cultural events help fund CWS programs to end hunger locally and abroad.
Ever since I became the country director of Indonesia for my organization CWS in 1999, and especially when I had to lead my organization’s response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, I have been impressed with the volunteerism in the United States, especially through the CROP Hunger Walks. As a native of the Netherlands, the U.S. type of volunteerism is rather new to me and I find it really incredible that so many people here in the U.S. put forth so much time and money to support causes that help others and that help change the world. I am absolutely in awe. I want to be a part of that and want people around the world to know about it.
This year, I will walk through Michigan, Indiana and Illinois for six days this summer (June 15 – 20). I hope people will not just donate money to my walk but also come out to join me as I make the trek through three states. I am very passionate about raising awareness about hunger, food, nutrition and poverty in the world. With “Women’s Empowerment” as the theme for this year’s walk, I want to honor my mother, who will turn 85 this in July, and the millions of women around the world who struggle each day to feed their families.
A new feature of this year’s 100 mile hunger walk is an invitation to women (and men) to post brief videos on my blog, in which they respond to the question “What does women’s empowerment mean to you?”
I am very inspired by the video clips women have sent for the blog so far and I hope that many others also will share their thoughts about women’s empowerment. Why am I lifting this up as a man? And why is it important for other men to take this seriously as well? Because for truly empowered women to exist, there must be truly empowered men who are not afraid of equality and dignity. And yes, I know we still have a long way to go, but I remain hopeful.
I will not deny that raising money is an important part of this endeavour, I am excited about this opportunity to raise money with the help of contributions from people who support the idea of eliminating hunger and empowering women,. Every dollar that donors contribute to support my walk helps my organization, CWS, fund the programs that make it possible for vulnerable families and communities to develop sustainable ways of providing good nutrition for their families. But, honestly, even if it doesn’t raise money but I am able to raise the voice and choice of one woman, it is more than worth the walk.
Bloem’s fundraising goal for his 100-Mile Walk is $10,000. People who want to support his effort to help end hunger can donate money and follow the walk on his blog at http://mauricebloem100milehungerwalk.tumblr.com/ .
The walk will begin at Third Reformed Church in Holland, Mich. and end at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Ill.