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ELCA World Hunger

Accompaniment on the Ground


In this post, ELCA World Hunger summer intern Aml Mohamed reflects on her experiences of accompaniment in her home country of Egypt.

“Why are you interested in this position at the ELCA?” A classic, expected question during an interview. I paused and asked myself three questions. What is the difference between interning at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a regular nonprofit? Would I care as a practicing Muslim to work at a Lutheran faith-based institution? Would my identity as an Egyptian allow me to work and understand hunger in the US?

These are challenging questions for a rising junior in college. I am still in the process of unfolding my answers to these questions.

My tentative answer to the first question is “I don’t know!” I didn’t have the chance to compare work environments at the ELCA and other nonprofits, yet. However, what I can say is that there is something unique about working at a Lutheran faith-based institution. During orientation, we were learning about accompaniment and how it is reflected in the work of ELCA World Hunger. At the ELCA, accompaniment is defined as walking together in a solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality. Initially, I was not sure how my life related to this model. However, after a few conversations with colleagues, I found that accompaniment is not an unfamiliar term to me. I was able to point to experiences where I saw accompaniment in my home country of Egypt.  

There is a hidden power in seeing people who look like you as change-makers. This what an old friend always used to say. For years, I was on the receiving end of nonprofit organizations’ work. I was involved in programs that focus on youth development and entrepreneurship. At the age of thirteen, I remember being impressed by the staff members working on these programs. Now I understand why — they looked like me.

It is important to see work done by people who look like you, speak your language, and understand your daily life. Those might be small details, but they matter. The nonprofits allowed people from my community to be leaders, therefore, my family and I were able to trust them more. The staff members and leaders were aware of the social views on education and extracurricular activities. For example, a shared view among my parents and others is that education and learning occur only in schools and classrooms. It was difficult to come to an agreement with them that extracurricular activities are as important as school education. However, the staff members understood the culture and communicated effectively and respectfully. Thus, they were able to show them that building life skills inside and outside the classroom is critical for one’s personal and professional growth.

There is also another aspect of accompaniment that I found prevalent in my context — trust. Do you remember when your teacher would assign you tasks to do in class, like resetting the classroom tables or giving your opinion and suggestions for an activity? In such moments, I always felt that I matter. I am young, but I am trusted. I am young, but I am responsible. I am young, but I can contribute with what I have and know.

Accompaniment is not always easy; sometimes it can seem as if organizations and individuals care more about seeing their logos and names on products and services than they do for the people they are working with. Accompaniment means walking together, but most importantly, it means giving one’s companion the full trust and agency to work in their communities. Trust that people can, and they will.

Why is it important to accompany? In my opinion, I think it makes all the difference. Seeing people who look like you, understand you and face similar daily trials sets a great example for the community where work is done. It gives hope, and it maintains dignity, freedom and agency. It means remembering that you are the partner that may be needed at that moment. However, you are not the most important piece of the work.

Working on hunger is sensitive, challenging and overwhelming. However, I work with these things in mind. I will remember the times when I was young and was trusted to do things on my own. I will remember admiring the fact that the leaders in the nonprofits looked like me and understood my context. I will remind myself that to the community I walk in, I am the guest. Everyone has assets that they can contribute to the work and the journey of development. Walking with each other, we can accomplish more together. I hope you can walk along!

Welcome (Back) New Staff!


Join ELCA World Hunger in welcoming (back) former intern and current coordinator for network engagement, Petra Rickertsen!

Grateful for your warm ‘welcome back’ to the ELCA World Hunger team, I am elated to announce my graduation from 2018 intern to Coordinator, Network Engagement! My passion for working with the ELCA World Hunger began in high school at an ELCA National Youth Gathering, grew through creating educational opportunities at California Lutheran University, and blossomed through hands-on experiences spreading the news of our work as a Hunger Leader on my Synod’s Hunger Team. Along the way, I also worked with Lutheran Retreats, Camps, and Conferences for five summers (after many seasons as a camper), and Fit 4 The Cause throughout college, drawing camp and fitness close to my heart. Serving through each nonprofit fortified my joy for working with people diverse in their walks of faith and life.

Learning about God’s astounding creation from people to plants also piques my interest. It’s part of the reason why I eat vegetarian and feel so blessed to travel! Two great adventures included studying abroad one semester in Paris, then another semester at Oxford University (Balliol and Saïd Colleges) which included additional travel through Greece, Italy, and Israel. I find the most intriguing part of traveling to be learning about the relationships people create with their food and the communities that flourish around food’s journey from seed to body.

Though traveling abroad is brilliant, I’m just as excited for the adventures happening in my own backyard! As a people-person, everything is more fun with a buddy, whether that is skateboarding, camping, or simply staying in for homemade pizza and movie night. I’ll miss the mountains (and burritos).  However, I am curious about what it will be like to trade warm sandy beaches and palm trees on Christmas for dashing through the snow in Chicago. But, I am elated for the growth this change in scenery will bring! Most of all, I’m grateful to be here, supporting the incredible work you and our shared network is achieving through ELCA World Hunger ministries. I am inspired to be back working with you and this team until all are fed.

I’m excited to work with the ELCA World Hunger network in our shared mission to end hunger, from assisting to plan, manage and answer your questions regarding events like the ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering, to sharing on social media the astounding work you’re achieving in your communities, and our companions and partners are working on across the world.

Meet the World Hunger Interns!

The World Hunger team is thrilled to welcome our new summer interns. They bring so much energy and excitement and will be doing so much to further the work of ELCA World Hunger. They have agreed to introduce themselves in this blog post and we look forward to the insight they will bring in their future posts.


Jessie Fairfax
My name is Jessie and I am a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Florida (Go Gators!) where I am studying Family, Youth, and Community Sciences with minors/specializations in Organizational Leadership for Non-Profits and Leadership. This summer I will be joining Lana and Rachel as an intern on the ELCA World Hunger Team with a focus largely on the events side of the work they are doing.

I am really excited to be jumping in head-first to work with some of the major projects that are already underway (and of course to spend my whole summer in the great city of Chicago!). I am quickly learning a great deal about all of the work that is done here and the chance to spur one another on in this mission to combat world hunger and poverty is truly an honor. Projects for me this summer will include the 2009 National Youth Gathering taking place in New Orleans, LA in July (, promotion of the 2009 Lutheran Youth Challenge to raise $1 million throughout 2009 (, functioning as a liaison for 3 ministers from West Virginia who are traveling the country by bike in the 2009 Tour de Revs (find their story at, and working on various projects for the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

Here’s to an exciting and busy summer of working to promote ways that YOU and others can be involved in our mission to fight world hunger.

Lana Lilebicycle-lana-755081 Hej hej, hallo, salut, hi!

This is my first blog for Hunger Rumblings so I would like to introduce myself: My name is Lana and I am a recent graduate of California Lutheran University where I majored in Communication and International Studies. This summer I am working as an intern for ELCA World Hunger and will be spending most of my time rallying support through college campuses, Facebook, our new Ning site and the 2009 National Youth Gathering in New Orleans.
I am very excited to be hanging out in Chicago this summer and to be working with such a fabulous and passionate group of people. I am looking forward to the challenge of implementing ideas for recruitment, advocacy, and fundraising. When it comes to feeding people, implementation is everything.

I am also looking forward to this summer as being a time of great learning and action-taking as I become engaged with the struggles of those living without food, clean water, healthcare, or educational opportunities. I once heard a pastor say, “The question is not ‘Where is God?’ the question is ‘Where are God’s people?’” As I begin my internship building the already extensive ELCA World Hunger network, I look forward to encouraging God’s people across the nation to stand up and say… “HERE I AM!”

rachel-747522 Rachel Zeman
Hello Friends!

My name is Rachel. I am currently a nursing student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and very excited to be spending my summer as an intern for ELCA World Hunger at the churchwide offices in Chicago.

Shortly after arriving, I was battered with an extensive ‘to-do’ list by a group of people bubbling over with passion and excitement for the work of ELCA World Hunger. I don’t know if it’s the stack of papers on my desk or the numerous smiles, introductions, and hand shakes that have me overwhelmed, but I do know that it’s the positive attitudes of the staff here and the millions of God’s children that benefit from their hard work that has me looking forward to the tasks ahead.

My work this summer will include continued development of the Hunger Education Toolkits and the evaluation and expansion of the Taking Root curriculum. I will also be researching how hunger and disease intersect, especially malaria and HIV and AIDS. These projects will take me to Yakima, Washington for an Ethics of Eating event and to Bemus Point, New York for a creative retreat to develop ideas for expanding the Hunger Education Toolkit.

I am very excited to be sharing this journey with you.

God’s Peace!

Welcome to Chicago!

Today marks my first week as a resident of Chicago and as an intern at the ELCA offices with the ELCA World Hunger Program, and I am beginning to settle in. A year ago, I never would have thought that I would be ready to embark out on my own to live in the “big city,” and, yet, here I am. Thus far, Chicago has the “city” feel (complete with roughly 3 million of my closest neighbors), but maintains a little of the “Midwest nice.” Since I grew up in northern Minnesota close to the head of the Mississippi River, in a town of approximately 12,000 people, a little familiarity goes a long way. I have my very own “cube” here at the ELCA offices on “Intern Alley,” had my first (eventful) trip to the mailroom, and am wading through the plethora of materials and services that ELCA World Hunger has to offer.

I was attracted to this internship, because ELCA World Hunger names itself as “a comprehensive and sustainable program that uses multiple strategies—relief, development, education, and advocacy—to address the root causes of hunger and poverty.” As a political science major with a peace studies minor, and as a person of color who is interested in the ways in which oppressive “systems” like patriarchy, hierarchy, and racism hold some people down, confronting root causes is an approach that I can get behind. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I truly believe that we, as people of faith, have something unique to offer to the work being done to create, provoke, and dream of radical change in our world.

As a note before I begin my reflection, I want to express that I am not attempting to make my experience seem “excruciatingly difficult,” because it is far from that. In fact, I am blessed with the resources, support network, and privilege to allow opportunities. However, I am becoming more aware of how blessed I am to have those resources, and how someone without the same access would lead a very different life.

I am, currently, a full-time college student and all that that implies. Tuition at my ELCA affiliated private, liberal arts college is a lot. Let’s say $30,000+ USD. I work three on-campus jobs, two that pay $6.15 USD an hour with a total of 10 hours per week, and one that pays for my on-campus room. Given those factors in combination with other expenses, I embarked on my summer internship and moved to Chicago with approximately $100-$200 USD in my pocket. Normally during the school year, $100-200 a month is adequate. However, start up, moving, transportation, and food costs have shocked me and are higher than costs in Minnesota. Just to give you an idea, here is a cost breakdown of start up costs for my move and the internship.

Gas to get to Chicago: $200+
UHaul trailer to move: $347
Rent for an apartment in Logan Square: $950 a month, plus utilities
Phone/Cable/Internet: $120 a month
Electric/ Gas: $100 a month
Chicago “L” train pass to commute: $75 a month
First “stock the shelves” groceries: $300
First “hey, we need toilet paper, cleaning supplies, shower curtain” Target run: $200
TOTAL: $2,292

The ELCA is paying me $10 an hour for 40 hours a week. I am making a very good wage—that is certainly not my complaint. However, I am realizing that there are major costs associated with starting a new job and the “in between time” between the move and the first pay check! Now, when I come across the facts in my ELCA World Hunger introductory materials that,

1 out of every 8 households in the United States has reduced the quality of its diet to utilize money elsewhere., and
37 million people (about one in eight) live in poverty even though most of them are working.

I have a new lens through which to view it.

Fortunately, I am blessed with a boyfriend, friends, and family who have provided for me during my interim, “in between time.” However, without that support system, my education, and my “privilege,” I would not have been able to spend this summer serving at the ELCA and gaining valuable life experience. It seems to me that the “American Dream” is quickly, if it has not already, becoming a myth.

What can I do to help, to advocate, to create and provoke change in society? Hopefully, I will uncover answers and inklings during this sure-to-be fruitful summer with ELCA World Hunger!
Peace, Mikka McCracken