Editor’s note: As we near the beginning of Lent, I'm happy to share this guest contribution from Dr. Carolyn Woo on the wonderful CRS Rice Bowl program. Please visit crsricebowl.org today to find out how you can make a difference in our world. LMH

rice-bowl-logo-english-crs-rice-bowl-2013Sek jo fan mei is a common greeting in my home city of Hong Kong, a way of saying, “How are you?” But its literal meaning is, “Have you eaten today?” Luckily, most of us can reply Sek jo la, which means, “Yes, I’ve eaten, I’m well.”

But that is not the case for more than 800 million people across the globe. Far too many people wake up each morning not knowing if they will have enough to eat. Lent will begin in 2 weeks, ushering in a new era for CRS Rice Bowl, a program that links Catholics in the United States with our poorest brothers and sisters thousands of miles away.

We have revamped this venerable campaign, making it more relevant for the millions it reaches each year with its message of sacrifice and hope. We hope you will join us this Lent. We invite you to eat a meal prepared with a recipe from crsricebowl.org to get a taste of the subsistence diet so many survive on. Or you may choose to watch a video or read a story to gain a real awareness of the hopes and dreams of those overseas.

During this Lenten season, we ask that you reflect on the lives of our brothers and sisters who face poverty and hunger every day. We ask that you pray with them. It is through such actions that you will come to feel solidarity with our human family.

I know from my trips around the world that CRS Rice Bowl makes a difference in the lives of the poor. By supporting CRS Rice Bowl, you affect lives in profound ways:

  • You can build a keyhole garden for a family in Lesotho, guaranteeing them a supply of vegetables that will provide food during fallow months.
  • You can link a farmer to a market in Ethiopia, generating income and breaking the hand-to-mouth cycle of subsistence agriculture.
  • You can bring a new well to a village in Pakistan, helping farmers grow crops and tend animals—ending long trips to find and fetch water.
  • And you help people in your own backyard: 25 percent of funds raised by CRS Rice Bowl support programs that help the poor in your own community.

Our faith teaches us the importance of affirming and supporting life. In giving us the sacrament of Holy Communion, Jesus showed us that the daily acts of eating and drinking are holy because they are the building blocks of life.

This Lent, tens of millions of people do not know if they will eat or drink today or tomorrow—or the day after that. Let us affirm our commitment to the sacredness of their lives. The new slogan for the CRS Rice Bowl is: “For Lent, For Life – What You Give Up for Lent Changes Lives.” This is absolutely true. Join us this Lenten season. The life you change may be your own.

May blessings overflow,
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo
President and CEO, Catholic Relief Services

Dr. Carolyn Woo

Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo is President & CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. Please visit Catholic Relief Services today to find out how you can make a difference in our world.

Copyright 2013 Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo