Finn’s Laos photo wins World Food Programme-EU competition

Education specialist Ari Vitikainen were among the three winners announced recently in a photo competition by the World Food Programme-EU to raise awareness of the importance of ‘the family meal’ and its role in achieving Zero Hunger.

A Rshi family come together to prepare a special meal called Khauchi Papa to celebrate the new year. Khauchi Papa is made from newly harvested rice sprinkled with sesame seeds. Rshi people are an ethnic minority in Laos’ highlands.

At the opening a WFP-EU photo exhibition titled: The Family Meal – What brings us together?, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin praised the photographers for highlighting the importance of food and nutrition in everyday life and the role families play in achieving Zero Hunger.

“These photographs inspire because they demonstrate the simple yet powerful role provided by sitting together and eating as a family in every country and all cultures around the world. Not everyone in the world can share this opportunity – 805 million people don’t have enough nutritious food to live a healthy and productive life. For this reason WFP and our partners are working together with the EU to end hunger and chronic malnutrition around the globe,” said Cousin.

The Finn, who has worked as an education advisor in South-East Asia in holistic development projects since 2001, won with the photograph ‘Khauchi Papa, a special meal in the highlands of Laos.’

“This picture shows Rshi people coming together and having fun while preparing their traditional Khauchi PaPa, rice bread, as part of the New Year celebration. The picture also reminds me of the cool season on highlands of Laos, when we gather around the fireplace and Rshi mother serves the delicious Khauchi Papa that is made warm on an open fire,” says Ari.

“Preparation of Khauchi Papa brings family and friends together. Skilful hands are turning the dough of sticky rice under a big wooden hammer, powered by bouncing and joyful youth.”

Vitikainen has worked closely with the ethnic community and has published a book about his experience in his native Finland.

Rshi-people-mealIn a statement made after he judged the competition, chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver said: “Ari’s colourful shot from Laos is a fantastic example of how important and fun it can be to prepare and share a meal with your loved ones. A family meal might seem like one of the most basic things in the world, but it’s easy to forget that this isn’t a given, and there are many people that struggle to do this. It’s a big issue, and I hope this competition will help to raise awareness of that.”

“I congratulate the three winners of the photo competition,” said European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides. “The winning contributions raise awareness of the everyday reality of mothers and fathers in humanitarian crises, struggling to provide food for their families. While they have temporarily lost the ability to provide enough food to remain healthy and enable their children to grow to their full potential, the EU-WFP partnership has been able to help them.”

The exhibition and the competition are part of a campaign launched last year by WFP and funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO). The aim is to raise awareness among Europe’s citizens about the food assistance WFP and the EU provide to vulnerable families around the world and to highlight the fact that hunger can be eliminated in our lifetime.

The winners can be viewed at

The three finalists will be featured in the WFP-EU family meal exhibition travelling throughout European countries until November 2015.

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.

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