Subsidized by the Equal opportunity unit of the Belgian ministry of Justice, the Humanitas project is an initiative of the food bridge vzw in collaboration with Sankaa vzw, Centrum voor Agrarische Geschiedenis, Photoresk, Heritage centre Antwerp, Red star line museum, Nollywood Europe and other partners. This project embodies everything that the Latin word Humanitas represents in the thoughts of the philosopher Cicero. The importance of man as a cultivated being, in control of his moral universe. A person who lives according to the ideal of humanitas is aware of his self-worth, respectful of others, correct in social interaction and active in his political role.
There are many issues today that encourage polarization of the different racial groups and leave no room for dialogue on a human level, with no exchanges on experiences that people value. Dialogue which if entered into, without prejudice and condemnation of the other, shows that we all share similar values and want to pursue a meaningful life. The Humanitas project brings together women and young people from different racial and cultural backgrounds to discuss the important circles of life through food (such as marriage, child birth, funerals). Women play a very important role in families and communities. They mold the lives of young children, influence the type of adults they become. Thus engaging with them, will help create a positive reaction to the diversity of ‘differences’ and ‘otherness’ we find in our society today.
The sessions are held in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent and Leuven. Each group of participants presents food from their culture relevant to the theme being discussed. The aim is to show that we as humanity share the same values and can start meaningful dialogues, to create synergies needed to initiate small changes that can lead to major changes in interracial relationships.
The sessions are filmed and photographs taken will be part of an exhibition later, at the closing event and in different cities, working in cooperation with the Flemish heritage centres. There will also be an illustrated booklet for children featuring themes from the project.
Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have made changes to the sessions. It is no longer accessible to everyone because we have to limit the number of participants. However, more people will be able to experience the sessions and follow the objectives of the project through the film, the exhibition and the booklet.
The UN designated International Day for Biological Diversity is on 22nd May 2020. The theme for this year is "Our Solutions Are in Nature." With all the challenges mankind is facing now, the theme couldn’t have been more apt. Recent events have shown us that we need to protect the earth, by limiting our harmful interference with nature’s way of regulating, protecting and renewing the earth. According to the FAO nearly a quarter of wild food species are decreasing rapidly and this is very much evident in Africa. It is alarming the rate at which deforestation for large scale mono industrial agriculture is increasing. Despite the arguments for large scale industrial agriculture, it has not eliminated hunger where it matters most, rather adds environmental and other challenges to the problems in these areas.
In an article on biodiversity, Jared Kaufman stated that ‘ Biodiversity is not only important for the planet—but it’s important for human health, too. Eating a range of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help immune systems by providing the full range of nutrients, from vitamins C and D to zinc and iron. And COVID-19 is revealing the urgency of improving immunity—and the power of food to protect us’.
The food heritage project by the Food Bridge vzw, has shown that African farmers have the indigenous knowledge to work in unison with nature, growing nutritious indigenous food that is good for people and the environment. So they need to be supported to use farming methods which recognizes and supports biodiversity, to grow crops that for centuries have benefited people and protected the environment. However, for this to happen, consumers also need to be better informed of the impact of the food choices they make and the health benefits that are available in the indigenous crops and plants.
The Helping Hand Project