March 22, 2005: Headlines: COS - Togo: Fund Raising: Hunger: Togo RPCV Becky Binns helps organize 30-hour fast

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Fund Raising: Peace Corps: Fund Raising : Fund Raising and the Peace Corps: March 22, 2005: Headlines: COS - Togo: Fund Raising: Hunger: Togo RPCV Becky Binns helps organize 30-hour fast

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Togo RPCV Becky Binns helps organize 30-hour fast

Togo RPCV Becky Binns helps organize  30-hour fast

Togo RPCV Becky Binns helps organize 30-hour fast

30-hour fast helps raise $3,000

Caption: Chelsea Silva, Emily Henthorne and Ali Bulman (left to right) find other members of their "tribe" while blindfolded during a 30-hour fast event held at St. John's Church recently.

BARRINGTON - It was a regular teenage gathering, with one minor difference there was absolutely nothing to eat. A total of 19 teenagers and two youth leaders from two Episcopal churches met last week for a 30-hour fast. The food-free event was both a learning experience for the students and a fund-raiser for impoverished areas of the world.

The church groups raised more than $3,000 for the cause, which will increase to more than $21,000 through a government grant which multiplies the group's contribution sevenfold, according to St. John's Director of Children and Youth Ministries, Becky Binns.

The chance to help others outweighed the hunger pains, said David Trost, 13.

"It's awesome because we're helping out people all over the world just by this small community thing. You wouldn't think 20 people could make a difference, but we can," he said.

The participants, all between the ages of 13 and 18, met at noon on Saturday, Feb. 26. On their honor, they were not to have eaten any food since midnight on Friday. They spent the entire 30-hour period with only water and Gatorade.

On Sunday morning, with stomachs growling, they were allowed a breakfast of rice, beans and fruit.

"I am hungry," said Erica Covington, 14, a few hours into the fast, "but I think it's really cool and great the way we're helping out other people who don't have as much as we do."

Two of the teens, Jesse Shelto and Lauren Bayuk, decided at almost the last minute to participate. They signed up the day before the event.

"It was just to see how it feels to be hungry all the time, and see if I can go 30 hours," Lauren said.

Keeping busy

The 30-hour fast was also a chance for St. John's youth group members to meet with other people their age from Grace Chapel in Providence. The groups passed the time with interesting ethnic activities. During most exercises, Cuban, African or Mexican music played in the background.

"It's from countries where they're starving," David Trost said.

An interesting game, called "Tribe," occupied much of Saturday afternoon and evening. It was developed by World Vision, the organization which established the guidelines for the 30-hour fast.

For the game, each teen took on the persona of an African native. More than simply a way to pass the time, it was an interactive avenue to understanding the people and the manner of survival for those half a world away, where drought and famine are a frequent reality. Ms. Binns' travels she spent two years in the Peace Corps, most of the time working in Togo, Africa provided additional insight into the people of the country.

"The people are nomadic cattle herders living in Kenya and Tanzania. I got to visit them when I was in Kenya," she said. "They do this dance where they just keep their feet together, and jump like five feet off the ground."

To start the game, blindfolds were handed out to each teen. Walking, they each called out the name of their tribe to find others in the same tribe. Several teens were designated "orphans" and had to find any of three tribes who would adopt them. Some of the blindfolds were used to tie an arm behind a back or wrap around a leg to represent a disability.

The fast participants also spent time customizing notebooks with glitter and feathers and pictures cut from magazines, creating journals to chronicle their experience and thoughts.

The results varied from Tristan Tavares' simple "Hi" on the front cover, to Jack Hunter's pictures of a lizard with the words "Go there" and "Expand your universe."

No food for 30 hours

* Midnight Friday night to noon Saturday: Teens sleep at home, skip breakfast and lunch, organize and grab their gear

* Noon to 2 p.m.: Arrive at St. John's Church, stow gear, share Mayan prayer and play get-to-know-you games like "name circle"

* 2 to 3:30: Journal-making and writing project

* 3:30 to 5: Play the game "Ships and Sailors," and introduce "Tribe" game

* 5 to 5:30: Break

* 5:30 to 6:15: Church service for the teens led by Rev. Juliana Anderson

* 6:15 to 6:45: Quiet time, write in journals, silent meditation

* 6:45 to 8:30: Tribe game and beverage break

* 8:30 to 9:15: Service project, writing letters to soldiers, and making recycle bins for St. John's Church

* 9:15 to 9:30: Conclusion of Tribe game and prize distribution

* 9:30 to 10:15: Silent journal-writing and night prayer

* 10:15 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.: Meltdown mode: Options sleep or play video games and board games around Field Hall, or watch movies in the office. Girls sleeping/silent area in living room; Boys sleeping/silent area in choir room

* 5:30 to 6: Wake up and cleanup

* 6 to 7: Breakfast and silent journal-writing time

* 7 to 8: Morning prayer outside, prepare to head home

By Cindy VanSchalkwyk

Contributing Writer

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