Joining Hands is a part of the Presbyterian Hunger Program
What You Can Do
Go! Travel to places where Joining Hands is active to meet with people suffering injustices and experience the reality of organizing for systemic change
Join! If you are an individual passionate about fighting systemic causes of poverty, there’s a place for you around the table. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on joining one of our three campaign tables: food & land, extractives & water and trade reform (look at the top of this page for more information on each table). Let’s problem solve together!
Act! Respond to requests for action from our global partners through letter writing, engaging members of Congress, conscious consumerism, study groups, hosting international visitors, speaking, vigils and prayer.
The Presbyterian Hunger Program accompanies communities and civil society organizations as they come together to challenge systems that generate hunger, poverty and injustice. We support advocacy campaigns that aim to improve policies or corporate practices that impact fundamental rights to water, food, land and other natural resources.
In today’s globalized world, with the high demand for food, water, energy and other resources, poor communities that depend on these resources for their survival often face challenges to ownership, management of, and access to their natural resources. These communities are confronted with problems of seed monopolies, land grabbing, mining pollution and trade policies that favor foreign investors over people.
Powerful actors such as governments, private investors, multinational corporations and multilateral banks motivated by profit set policies that favor large-scale extraction of resources with minimal or no benefits for local communities.
Responding to poverty through projects is not enough if systems that create or perpetuate hunger and poverty are not properly identified, analyzed and challenged. PHP supports the rights of local communities to protect their natural resources and livelihoods from destruction by large investment projects.
Much of PHP’s work defending resource rights is done through the Joining Hands initiative.
Some focus areas for our campaign work are:
Food and Land: PHP supports efforts that promote the right of people to produce culturally appropriate food through ecologically sustainable methods. We also support local communities’ efforts to defend their land rights.
Extractive industries: PHP supports communities impacted by pollution from mining by campaigning for the protection of the environment and health; holding extractive corporations accountable for their financial, social and environmental obligations; and advocating for transparency in payments made by extractive industries corporations to governments.
Trade: We support greater transparency in trade agreements so that foreign investors’ rights are not privileged over citizens’. We advocate for trade agreements that protect workers, consumers, the environment, and public health, and ensure the protection of human rights.
Joining Hands is committed to justice, restoration of the Earth and the abundant life promised by God for all people.
The Joining Hands Initiative is an innovative way to mobilize people in focused campaigns to tackle systemic causes of hunger both in the United States and abroad as a witness to the wholeness of God’s creation. Joining Hands is committed to a holistic hunger ministry and its work is integrated with the mandate of thePresbyterian Hunger Program, outlined in the Common Affirmation on World Hunger. The five components of the mandate are: Relief of chronic hunger, development assistance, public policy advocacy, lifestyle integrity and hunger education. It also considers that spiritual wholeness is necessary for a sustainable community as indicated in Hope for a Global Future and adds this dimension to the five programmatic areas mentioned above.
Both presbyteries and congregations are invited to work within a denominational coalition that joins with marginalized people in ten countries, including churches, nonprofit organizations, community groups and members of other faith traditions – what we call communities of mission practice, who in disciplined ways, engage the world together through common spiritual and ethical values. Rather than replicate project-based mission, the goal of Joining Hands is to organize together in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres to campaign for peaceful social change in a globalized world.
Most of the issues identified by global partners as contributing to poverty abroad are also relevant in the United States. This effort is not about going somewhere else to do mission. Instead, we look together at the immense troubles we all face on a small planet and pull together in prayer, research, repentance, and in a process of mutual transformation that reflects our shared commitment to restoring the wholeness of God’s creation by contributing to the building of a more peaceful and just world.
We envision a growing and spiritually-grounded movement that maintains an ethical focus on:
- addressing the root causes of injustice, inequity and the lack of human dignity
- promoting the self-sufficiency of poor and marginalized groups
- confronting and influencing the structures of exploitation and injustice
We see a movement that:
- grows strong through knowledge, communication, education and skill-building
- values ethnic, religious, cultural and economic diversity
- draws upon common threads of spirituality and unites peoples of diverse faith in worldwide action
- involves congregations in global partnership
- models democratic and participatory decision-making at all levels
We envision a transforming partnership that is:
- characterized by equitable relationships based on mutual respect and not dominated by money
- built upon frequent exchange visits between and among networks including people of all ages
- strengthened by open, frequent and effective communication
We look forward to:
- effectiveness in advocacy for change
- opportunities for coordinated action
Food and Land
All people, animals and communities depend on food for life. All people and communities should be able to feed themselves to live and flourish. However, there are global trends that are threatening the abilities of people and communities to feed themselves.
One global trend occurring is where transnational corporations are privatizing seeds and promoting chemical dependent agriculture on an industrial scale in the developing world, resulting in the loss of traditional seeds, biodiversity and local control of food systems.
Another global trend is one where transnational corporations are buying up land in developing nations, bulldozing some of the most diverse and fertile lands there, including rainforests and traditional farmlands, and planting in their place mono-crops for the production of biofuels or livestock feed for consumption in developed nations.
Some of the most fragile coastlines are being trampled by developers to boost tourism.
In the process, indigenous people are being displaced from the land they have lived on, farmed, fished and protected for generations, leaving both people and the land impoverished.
These land deals lead to food insecurity in local communities, no longer having access to the land for food production, forcing them to purchase food from markets with very little or no access to income since they have been separated from their sources of livelihood.
Joining Hands supports efforts that promote the right of people to produce the food they need for survival, in accordance with their cultural traditions and through ecologically sustainable methods, as well as the right of people to access land to produce food and provide housing, particularly with indigenous communities whose traditional rights are threatened.
- In Haiti, FONDAMA is promoting family and cooperative agriculture while resisting the production of agro-fuels and other forms of industrial agriculture which cause further dependence on foreign markets and inputs.
- In Sri Lanka, Praja Abilasha is campaigning against the forceful displacement of marginalized coastal and farming communities from their land by a growing tourism industry following the 2005 tsunami.
- In India, CHETHANA is campaigning against the proliferation of genetically modified seeds which lead to the dependency of farmers on expensive inputs, loss of biodiversity and food security, marginalization and displacement of small and landless farmers, and further degradation of land and water systems.
- In Cameroon, RELUFA is campaigning against the destruction of southwest Cameroon’s rainforests and the displacement of local people by the agri-corporation Herakles Farms, replacing farmlands and forest with palm oil plantations for the production for biofuels.
Download a poster on Food and the Climate Crisis
Download a useful fact sheet on land Grab
Extractives & Environment
While it may seem that countries rich in natural resources may be rich, that isn’t true.
The “resource curse” shows us that countries with great oil, gas and other extractive industries are often the poorest, with less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with far fewer resources. In fact, countries with rich natural deposits are often plagued by corruption, civil war, human rights abuses, authoritarian governments, land grabs and environmental degradation – because powerful sectors want to control the profits.
Few communities within these countries benefit from the gas we pump into our cars, the electricity that keeps our houses warm and the minerals that power our computers. In some cases, those communities were damaged by lax labor laws, poor environmental protections and violence, so that the poor became poorer.
Joining Hands supports efforts to make the extractive sector more transparent and to enhance development:
- In Bolivia, UMAVIDA is campaigning for better water quality, where water has been polluted, in part, by mining companies.
- In Cameroon, RELUFA has been advocating for more than 10 years for communities impacted by the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project; it is also part of a global campaign – known broadly as Publish What You Pay – that demands that governments publish revenue received from extractive companies so that civil society may have a voice in its use.
- In Peru, Uniendo Manos has documented the chemical poisoning of children in the Andean mountains by a multi-metal smelter run by the Renco Group and is a voice within Peru calling for the government to enforce its environmental law and for the company to comply with that law.
TPP Puts Health, Environment, and National Sovereignty at Risk
Statement by Red Uniendo Manos Peru, Joining Hands Peru
A woman from La Oroya leads protestors in chants directed to the negotiators of the TPP in Lima in May 2013
On October 6, 2015, the twelve countries that have been negotiating the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral free trade agreement, for the past eight years reached an agreement. Now the agreement must be ratified by the Congress of each of those countries. Despite the secrecy of the negotiations, we know through leaked texts and more recently from commentaries made by some of the negotiators themselves that the TPP includes components that threaten the health, environment and national sovereignty to Peru.
Read the statement
Joining Hands supports work for fairness in the global economy so that trade agreements protect the rights of workers, consumers, the environment, and public health, as well as human rights.
The work of Joining Hands around trade issues is:
- An emerging pattern in Latin American countries where transnational corporations are suing governments in international tribunals over rights to valuable natural resources; this has been the experience of both Peru and El Salvador.
- A trade reform campaign in the United States that ensures that trade agreements protect the rights of the most vulnerable and the environment and do not permit corporations to usurp the rights of sovereign governments to regulate public health and safety.
A scriptural approach to trade
Atle Sommerfeldt, director of Norwegian Church Aid, discusses the theology of trade based on the multitude of Biblical texts that speak about the issue.
Webinars and Videos
Use these videos in Sunday School classes, in sermon preparation and in personal study as you prepare for public witness.
A Biblical precept that defies greed Read books by authors who interpret contemporary issues through our spiritual traditions
Print these posters and hang them at your church, school or business.