Hope is a Red Cup: A Cultural Exchange
he WFP Committees of DC and Northern Virginia hosted a great event called Hope is a Red Cup: A Cultural Exchange at the National Harbor in the Washington, DC area. The event featured photographs of United Nations World Food Program (WFP) operations in Nicaragua and Kenya taken by photographer Rachel Hofer during WFP Committee trips to these countries. After the event I had a conversation with Rachel about how this event happened.
Brian Ward: How did you first hear about WFP?
Rachael Hofer: I first heard about WFP in 2006 when I volunteered to attend Walk the World in Alexandria, Virginia. I was working at AOL at the time and there was a write-up about the walk in the weekly employee newsletter about local community events. There were about 50 people there that day and it was at this event that I met Cindy Cavalieri, now a Committee Leader for the WFP Committee of Northern Virginia, and Margot Hoerrner, Vice President of Outreach for Friends of the World Food Program (Friends of WFP).
BW: With all of the issues out there to support, why did you decide to support the fight against global hunger?
RH: It's been a gradual process for me. When I first volunteered, I was new to the Northern Virginia area and knew that I wanted to be involved in volunteer work where an impact could be made. It was not until my first trip to the field in July of 2008 that I knew global hunger was the issue that I wanted to focus on 100 percent. When I saw firsthand poverty and hunger, and especially how it affected children, it was such a stark contrast to the world I was living in where there was so much excess. I learned how every little bit can make such a huge impact in a child's life. It was for this reason that I've focused on global hunger.
BW: Which WFP Committee are you involved with?
RH: I'm officially with the WFP Committee of Northern Virginia, but I also work with the WFP Committee of DC and other committees around the U.S. have used my photography for their events, such as the WFP Committees of San Francisco and Miami.
BW: Tell me about your event.
RH: The event was first started to bring more awareness to global hunger in the DC metro area. We used my images and book from Nicaragua themed "Hope Is A Red Cup" as our message. We also wanted this to be a cultural exchange and invited local dance groups whose dances were from WFP countries. The idea was to have art from WFP countries or images of WFP operations on the gallery walls, and dance in the center of the gallery. As guests entered, they would learn about WFP and global hunger.
RH: The event was attended by the local community. We also had four dance groups in attendance and they each had their families there as well, who were all very supportive of our event. It was on Saturday, March 27, from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. The event was at a local art gallery called SCENE. Art & Events located in the National Harbor area that is south of Washington, DC. The gallery owner, Jennifer Grinnell, donated the space for this event.
BW: What was the goal/outcome? Did you meet your goals?
RH: The goal was bring more awareness to global hunger to the local community as well as raise funds. We wanted to attract guests with art and dance from WFP countries, and then use this as a platform to raise awareness and raise funds. Our fundraising goal was $2,000. We met most of our goals. We did have a cultural event with art from Africa and Haiti, paintings by a local painter from El Salvador and photography of WFP operations in Kenya and Nicaragua. The dance groups were fantastic and were from Indonesia, Bolivia and India, and we also had a belly dance demonstration. The gallery was packed the entire time, but we did not reach our fundraising goal of $2,000.
BW: How did you come up with this idea?
RH: This idea came from my book, "Hope Is A Red Cup.” I have been on two trips to the field with Friends of WFP and was looking for a space to display these images. Once the group met to brainstorm the idea, it grew into a cultural event with dancers and art from around the world.
BW: What advice would you give to someone who wants to organize a similar event?
RH: The details of the day are just as important as everything leading up to that day. We did not have an MC and this was needed. The dance groups went one after another and we needed to have speakers in-between speaking to the crowd about global hunger. We did have a table of information and volunteers at the event to speak, but the room got crowded very quickly with a large group. Also, it definitely takes a dedicated team to put together an event like this. We had weekly meetings starting in January up to the event to keep everyone informed and our tasks and timeline in place.
BW: Why did you think it was important to organize an event like this to benefit WFP?
RH: I think it's important to bring a global perspective to our everyday lives. We are all connected. Additionally, I feel that many people associate WFP with disaster relief, and I wanted to bring more awareness to the development programs such as the school meals program that makes an impact everyday in villages and cities around the world.
View more pictures from this event.