This Friday will mark my last day interning at ELCA World Hunger, which has led me to reflect on these past eleven weeks. My first week of interning at ELCA World Hunger was overwhelming to say the least. I was inundated with the realities of hunger around the world and the wonderful ways in which this organization is going about alleviating those realities. Every night of that first week I came home exhausted from all the new information and from my own excitement for the way in which ELCA World Hunger approaches its work. This first week gave me great enthusiasm for the projects I would be working on this summer.

While I worked on a variety of projects that dealt with many different root causes and outcomes of hunger, my main projects dealt with the intersection between women and hunger, which is a subject I have become incredibly passionate about. Out of the 1.02 billion people on this planet who are hungry, women are a sub-group that often suffers disproportionately from hunger and poverty. 6 out of 10 of the world’s poorest people are women. Many women are not given a chance to go to school, own land or their own business, are forced to work in unpaid or informal jobs, experience violence and are not treated as equals.

The other part of my work focusing on women dealt with the fact that women can be the answer to alleviating hunger and poverty. When women have the opportunity to earn income, they reinvest 90% in their families, while men invest 30-40%. If women can be treated as equals and given the same opportunities, not only will they benefit, but their families and communities will as well.

While this is only a taste of the work I was involved in this summer, it serves an example of what I have gained from this experience. I have gained passion for anti-hunger and anti-poverty work. I have gained knowledge of the realities of our world. I have gained important skills that will help me in my future social justice work. Most importantly, as cheesy as it may sound, I have gained hope. I look back to the first week of the summer when I felt overwhelmed by the reality of hunger in the world and by the work done at ELCA World Hunger. Eleven weeks later, I am still amazed by the work that is being done and by the positive impact it is having, but I also have hope. I have hope that this organization is providing people with opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty, and that this will have a multiplying effect on their communities. I have hope that this is being done in a manner that upholds human dignity and that sees each and every person on this planet as capable and valuable.

I am very thankful for the experiences I have had this summer. I have whetted my appetite for social justice work, and am excited to see how this experience will contribute to future experiences. I am hopeful that I (and that all of you out there) can play an important role in alleviating hunger and poverty in our world.

Allie Stehlin