“Please, Sir: I want some more!”
Dickens mocks the hypocrisies of the time by surrounding the novel’s serious themes with sarcasm and dark humour. The novel may have been inspired by the story of Robert Blincoe, an orphan whose account of his hardships as a child laborer in a cotton mill was widely read in the 1830s.
The world has seen unprecedented creation of wealth since those dark and miserable days 180 years ago. But sadly, there still are hundreds of millions of children who share young Oliver plight — or worse: many go to bed entirely hungry in a world that does not have an overall shortage of food anymore.
Today, 13 May, thousands of people in different parts of the world will walk wherever they can as part of a global campaign in support of ending hunger – one lingering great shame of our time.
Fight Hunger: Walk the World is a global fundraising and awareness event that takes place every year in all times zones with one sole purpose – to call for an end to child hunger.
Fighting hunger website tells us:
Hunger is more than having an empty stomach. Hunger means not getting the necessary daily nutrition to lead a fully active, productive and healthy life.
Hunger affects more than 800 million people around the world. A child dies every 5 seconds because he or she is hungry.
This year, the organisers – led by the UN World Food Programme - had a viral video contest. It asked anyone, anywhere to do a short video promoting the event – and the issue of hunger – and upload. Some interesting videos have been received — even if some are blatantly in-your-face propaganda for the UN WFP.
That’s my big, long-lasting complaint about the UN family of agencies addressing and tackling the world’s ills. After a while, they allow their worthy issues to be eclipsed by their own self-promotion, public relations and spin. I wrote last month about how the entire MDG campaign has been subsumed by needless volumes of spin.
If only the World Food Programme and its sister agencies can resist their temptation to see every campaign, issue and programme as a logo-delivery mechanism, they will do a whole lot more good.
For that reason, while I will privately walk and think of those in hunger today, I will not contribute any money to the bloated bureaucracy of the United Nations World Food Programme. I would also ask that they go before a mirror today just before they step out to go walking with the world — and sincerely ask: do you see part of the problem or part of the solution?
Thank you, WFP, for delivering food to tens of millions of people worldwide who would not otherwise be fed, or fed adequately. But try and deliver a little less of your image and your logo, if you can. (We saw so much of this happen in the days and weeks that followed the Asian Tsunami disaster, and it was simply disgusting.)
Both hunger and hypocricy thrive nearly two centuries after Dickens and Oliver Twist. We must walk today to end not just one, but both!
Happy walking, everyone.