Author: Roger Thurow
Publisher: Public Affairs Books & The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Complimentary Copy received by: B&B Media Group
“A world where more than one billion people suffer from hunger is not a strong or stable world. A world where more than two billion people in rural areas struggle to secure a livelihood is not a balanced one.” ~ U.S. treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner (pg 15)
In the hunger season, life was stripped down to the essentials of survival. Tea for breakfast, nothing for lunch, tea for dinner and always the question, ‘will we eat?’” (pg 118)
Comparing [MRI] scans [of malnourished children] with children who had been properly nourished … the brain size of the chronically malnourished child seemed to be smaller, with severely impaired neuron development. ‘Clear in those images,’ [Rajiv] Shah noted, ‘is the stark and permanent loss of individual human potential. We could begin to understand that a child suffering from malnutrition at a young age has diminished her lifelong potential before the majority of her life has even begun.” ~ Rajiv Shah, United States Agency for international Development (pg 156)
“We want them to be empowered to change their own lives, through their own work, not through handouts.” ~ Andrew Youn, founder One Acre Fund (pg 57)
First, an apology to the publisher, Public Affairs, and the B&B Media Group for this long overdue post! (*Sorry*) In all honesty, The Last Hunger Season is not a book that can be read in one afternoon; at least not for me anyway. The subject matter is too important to gloss over. The hardships encountered by each farming family demands the reader’s full attention, requires thoughtful engagement of the socio-political factors perpetuating global hunger, and, most importantly, compels a degree of internal wrestling.
In The Last Hunger Season: A Year In An African Farm Community On The Brink Of Change, author Roger Thurow follows the ups-and-downs of four families living in the Lugulu Hills of western Kenya. With intimate transparency the reader is given full access to the lives of Leonida (and Peter) Wanyama, Zipporah (and Sanet) Biketi, Rasoa (and Cyrus) Wasike, and Francis (and Mary) Wamati as they relinquish all they know of traditional farming methods and adopt the practices and principles of the One Acre Fund smallholder farming program for a season. With high expectations, each family hopes the yield will be enough to provide a profit to support school fees for their children and carry them through the wanjala–the hunger season. Testing every ounce of patience, fortitude, and commitment, the conditions endured are harsh, bleak, and daunting … that is until the maize begins to grow!
Through the numerous trials encountered by the members of the Lutacho Once Acre cooperative, Thurow weaves a thoughtful exploration of the social, cultural, and political factors lending to the perpetuation of global hunger. The reader is presented with disheartening statistics related to world hunger and the myriad of financial, political, and environmental challenges facing smallholder farmers. While the hardships seem hopeless and unbearable, there is optimism in the form of people such as Andrew Youn, founder of the One Acre Fund. (Andrew Youn, by the way, is my newfound hero.) God bless Andrew Youn for his compassion toward others. God bless Andrew Youn for his vision to provide simple yet effective tools that transform lives (and livelihoods!) thus giving those caught in the bottom billion the ability to reach the next rung on the economic ladder. God bless Andrew Youn for giving up what certainly would have been a lucrative career path in an effort to remain true to the passion that sparked a flame inside: to partner with people in tangible ways that empower and equip for self-sustainability. May Andrew Youn serve as an example to youth and adults everywhere that one person can make a difference!
What Thurow so beautifully captures in The Last Hunger Season is the ability of the human spirit to persevere and the power of community to bridge the chasm between despair and hope. The Last Hunger Season is a touching and gritty celebration of the human will and triumph of the spirit. The wanjala–the hunger season–is long, hard, and taxing. Great sacrifices are made. Overwhelming losses are experienced. The rhythm of life centers on the dance between hunger, food, and finances. The result: many hard choices are made. Families sell what little possessions (or food or livestock) they have to cover medical costs for malaria treatment or educational fees for schooling. I found myself asking over and over and over again, “How much pressure can one family bear?” “How many hardships and setbacks can one family endure?” What I learned from the difficult choices made by Leonida, Zipporah, Rasoa, and Francis, is that when you are stripped of all luxury and denied all accoutrements that make up the American lifestyle of excess, the heart of what is real and true and most valuable stands out: faith, community, and family. What I take away from The Last Hunger Season is the affirmation that the human spirit is capable of enduring great trials and conquering difficult challenges when hope, encouragement, faith, and community align.
My advice, run to get your copy of The Last Hunger Season today!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via B&B Media in exchange for an honest review.
Book & Author Bio