Leaving Canada on March 7, the group will spend about two weeks in Lebanon.
They will meet with Syrian families who have fled the conflict in their home country, and see how the Foodgrains Bank, through its members, is responding.
For Ed Donkersgoed, a Foodgrains Bank supporter from Alberta, part of the motivation to take part in the tour is the opportunity to learn more about the work he and his wife, Shannon, have been supporting over the years.
“Food security, at home and abroad, is near to my heart,” says Donkersgoed, a farmer who is involved with the Coaldale-Lethbridge growing project.
“I look forward to getting a good sense of the overall workings of the Foodgrains Bank—from the scale of the larger partners and organizations, to the people ‘on the ground’ helping people where they are.”
He explains that it is also an opportunity “to try and comprehend this crisis, and be able to humbly see, listen, and learn from individuals that are affected, and those there to serve them.”
Now in its sixth year, the conflict in Syria has displaced over 11 million people, both within Syria, and into other countries. There are over one million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon, while one in three people in that country is now a refugee.
According to the United Nations, the Syrian conflict is the largest humanitarian crisis of our time, and one in which the Foodgrains Bank has provided over $40 million in response.
Food study tours focus on three main goals, says James Kornelsen, tour leader and Public Engagement Coordinator for the Foodgrains Bank.
“There’s a focus on building a sense of global community, learning about hunger, and seeing how Foodgrains Bank member agencies are responding to the needs of hungry people around the world.”
“When participants return home, they share stories from what they’ve learned in their communities,” says Kornelsen. “It’s a powerful way of reminding Canadians about the reality of life for conflict-affected people, and the role that Canada plays in responding in other parts of the world where help is so desperately needed.”
Sharing such stories upon return to Alberta is one of the things Donkersgoed looks forward to, noting that he is excited “to later be able to share with other Canadians the impact of the work that is being done on their behalf by this incredible force of good in these dark places.”
The tour will visit projects implemented by Foodgrains Bank members Canadian Baptist Ministries, Mennonite Central Committee, and World Renew, in collaboration with their local partners.
The group will also be spending a day in London on their way to Lebanon, where they will visit the Secretariat of the Food Assistance Convention, and learn about the international policy side of responding to global hunger emergencies.
–Amanda Thorsteinsson, Communications Coordinator