30 Hour Famine Survival Experience


A note from the 30 Hour Famine Team: We connected with Famine veteran Michelle Freeman of Arlington, Texas to ask her how she gets her whole congregation involved in the 30 Hour Famine. She told us, “I’m always looking for ways to help educate the congregation so they will grow an understanding about what we are fighting for.  I started doing 30 Hour Famine around 1994 or ’96, I have seen the number go down considerably as to how many children die each day.  I hope to see the number disappear altogether.” — Amen to that!

30 Hour Famine Survival Experience

Michelle Freeman

Participants will walk thru a maze stopping at 15 locations along the way that will describe real life circumstances that affect people in the World.  Each of these circumstances can often leave families vulnerable to homelessness, hunger and poverty.  At the beginning of the maze give each participant a bag of beads and a label with the name of one of the countries.  (We started out putting the name of the country on the participants like a name tag and then found it was easier for them to look at their bag to see what country they were from).   Explain that the beads represent the resources they need to survive, water, food, medicine, shelter and education.  As you walk thru the maze stop at each station and read the instructions.  They may need to leave a bead, take a bead or do nothing at each station.  If there are several people in a group going thru together, make sure one of them is the United States.  If they are going thru as individuals then they should receive one of the other countries.


  • Place 10 beads into Ziploc bag (2 beads from each of the 5 colors)
  • Print explanation of what each bead represents on paper and cut to fit into Ziploc bag along with beads.  Example: Blue=water, brown=food, red=medicine, orange=education, green=shelter.
  • Print on labels, names of countries (we used India, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Peru and United States)
  • Set up maze using string or rope tied to tables, chairs, etc.  (We printed signs with 30 Hour Famine logo and taped to the string so people would see it and not run into it and fall)
  • Print each of the 15 situations onto a full sheet of paper.

Using tables and other surfaces set up 15 stations(in any order), place one printed situation on each station.  Use props to make each station come to life.  We used a small pop-up awning for shelter, a pitcher of dirty water for one of the water stations, a basket of bread for the “World Vision gives you a loan to start a small bakery business”, crayons and drawings for “no school” etc.  Be creative!

15 situations:

  1. A drought hits your country India, Rwanda and Ethiopia need to leave one bead.  Drought can hit the United States, too. But we have resources to make sure we don’t run out of safe water.
  2. Terrorism causes fear.  Every country needs to leave one bead.
  3. There are no qualified teachers to teach in local classrooms India, Peru and Rwanda need to leave one bead.
  4. You have no seeds to plant the next harvest.  Ethiopia and Peru need to leave one bead.
  5. You must abandon your home due to flood-and with nowhere to go, you live outdoors under a tarp.  Peru, Rwanda, Ethiopia and India need to leave one bead. We may have to abandon houses due to flood in the United States, but we have resources for places to live temporarily.
  6. You become sick with malaria.  India and Ethiopia need to leave one bead. In the United States, we have quick access to medicines, and malaria is rare.
  7. 30 Hour Famine Funds help your community start a seed bank, where good seeds are used and then redeposit after harvest for others to use.  India, Rwanda, Peru and Ethiopia may take one bead.
  8. War breaks out and you must leave your home.  Rwanda, Peru and Ethiopia must leave one bead.  Poor countries often have unstable governments that cannot control civil wars within their borders.
  9. You only have water from a river to drink, and it makes you sick.  India and Ethiopia need to leave one bead.
  10. You received a World Vision loan to start a small bakery.  Peru, India, Rwanda and Ethiopia may take one bead.
  11. Your plow has broken beyond repair, and you have no money to buy a new one.  You cannot plant next year’s harvest. Peru and Ethiopia need to leave one bead.
  12. You can’t read, and people in the market place take advantage of you.  India, Ethiopia and Rwanda need to leave one bead.
  13. You’re sick, but there is no doctor close by- and you don’t have any transportation to the nearest city, which is 50 miles away.  Rwanda and India need to leave one bead.
  14. Your school is closed when rebel military groups fight near your village.  Peru and Rwanda need to leave one bead.
  15. World Vision drills a deep borehole in your community.  Now you have access to safe water-and it will be much closer to your hut as well.  Ethiopia, Rwanda, Peru and India may take one bead.

Items needed: 

  • Colored beads 10 per participant (5 different colors each representing either food, water, shelter, medical or education)
  • Beads colored an additional 3 colors to represent resources that are provided by World Vision
  • Small ziploc bags
  • Jars or containers to for participants to place their beads in or pick up beads from each station.

At the end of your maze place instructions for participants:  Look at what beads you have left.  Do you have what you need to survive?  Did the provisions that were provided by World Vision make a difference?

Place youth at the end of the maze to collect plastic bags and remaining beads.  Before collecting the bags help each person see what they have left, do they have enough of all 5 elements needed?

We included a large clear plastic tub at the end to collect additional donations.