Today's guest was Talley Diggs, of the UN's World Food Programme.....
In attendance: Steve, Denise, Francesca, Ken, Sharon, Ben, Bill, Mike, Lisa, Braden, Omer, Sara, Alex.
Guest: Talley Diggs with The UN's World Food Programme
Ben opened the meeting with the pledge, prayer and a song.
Francesca introduced her daughter Talley.
The WFP recently won a Nobel Peace Prize for their humanitarian efforts to maintain the largest refugee camp in the world. They are the leaders in food and nutrition insecurity. The program was originated in 1961 by President Eisenhower for the UN. In 2019 they fed 97 million people in 88 countries. The organization is led by an executive director from the US, with the US committing 40% of the cost. Due to the rise in conflict throughout the world, because conflict drives food shortages. The largest camp in the world borders Bangladesh and Myanmar. The refugees were forced out of their homes into a wetlands area that borders the sea that is prone to floods, typhoons and monsoons. The exodus began 3 years ago with 740,000 women, children and elderly fleeing Myanmar with no solution in sight. Right now 860,000 people are totally dependent on WFP with no hope of repatriation or citizenship. There are several camps in the area, with the Mega camp holding 600,000 people housed in an area the size of LAX airport. Every person is giving enough food via vouchers allowing them choices for most items and some dignity. Rice is the only commodity with limits as it is often bartered as currency. The cost per person is about $12.00  a month. They are also provided with skill training in farming, sewing, repairing solar panels. They are never allowed to leave as Bangladesh has created physical barriers. They also work on infrastructure like roads, drainage, and have access to engineering classes. This provides them with extra income. School is not allowed by Bangladesh, so learning centers were created with high nutrition meals. The WFP has created their own communication systems after Bangladesh turned off all 3 and 4G cell towers.   During COVID, the WFP limited everyone's footprint and exposure by setting up Joint Distribution centers, clinics, and distributing PPE and training along with sanitizing stations.  At this time the camp has recorded 287 cases of COVID 19 and 9 deaths. Scanning codes for vehicles entering were established and mothers were trained to record arm measurements on children to avoid slipping into malnutrition. The WFP also feeds about 500,000 in Bangladesh.   
  • Steve asked about the start of the conflict and was told that it is an ethnic religious conflict between the Buddhist population in Myanmar and  Muslims expected to flee to Bangladesh. 
  • Mike asked about cooperation between refugees and was told that fear is a great motivator as returning means death. The men who stayed to defend their homes were slaughtered in what could be called ethnic genocide.  
  • Lisa spoke about a connection she has and the conditions they were driven to as refugees are sometimes an improvement over staying.   
  • Bill asked about Shelter Box and was told that they only deal with food, but that housing is ad hoc and some housing boxes do exist.   
  • Ben asked about the big picture to end this and was told it would have to be a political mediation with regime changes.
  • Steve questioned citizenship rights if born in the camps, but it does not exist.    
  • Mike reminded us of the 7 areas of focus for Rotary and how the WFP supports them. 
Ben brought new business to the conversation with communications from  Assistant Governor Maureen about disposable mask distribution to Plymouth Rotary for area nonprofits.  Also an update from Central NH Chamber on $300,000 grants for PPE for area chamber members.
The Presidents meeting reviewed the Coleman presentation with a reminder that we all have 100 days to maintain engagement to enlist customers and members. November 7th will be Grant training, and leadership training to follow.
October 24th is World Polio day.
Ken updated us on $11,000 in sponsorships and 19 talent acts. We are running FB ads and finalizing radio ads.  A decision on radio will be made after investigating getting stations to become sponsors and make an in kind donation of air time. 
Ben thanked the PGT team for progress. Members were reminded to SHARE the  event on FB. 
Respectfully submitted by,