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Ireland's ‘phombies’ are being given an opportunity to be cured from their habitual zombie-like state if they take part in Concern’s Fast 2017 next month.
Phone-zombies, or phombies, are people who stare at their mobile phone while walking and are completely oblivious of other people and their surroundings. They can be regularly spotted ‘phombie-walking’ in every town and city across Ireland and beyond.
This Halloween, humanitarian aid agency Concern Worldwide is calling on eerie phombies and other obsessive creatures to kick their habit by registering for Concern Fast, which takes place for 24-hours on Thursday, November 23.
The thriller fundraiser, one of Ireland’s longest running and most popular charity events, raises vital funds for children dying from hunger in countries around the world.
Traditionally, Fast participants focused on giving up food for a day, however in recent years they have decided to do ‘digital fasts’ where they stop using laptops and other devices while others have given up coffee, smoking or playing video games for 24 hours.
This year, Concern is encouraging mobile phone addicts to spend a day without being distracted by their device when walking and is also encouraging social media users to not post anything online for a day.
Concern Worldwide Marketing Executive, Christina Meehan, said: “Concern Fast is a rewarding opportunity to challenge yourself for a very deserving cause.
“We think it can also be a fun way to detox on modern habits that many people have, like looking at our phone when walking to a shop or to catch a bus. I think it’s important to stay present. When we are present we have the time to think about others and connect to the world and this is exactly why I’m giving up my phone for a day.
"For decades, Fast has been helping millions of children suffering from hunger - and we ask that people continue to take part and do what they can because it really does make a difference. For example, Irish people who took part last year helped feed 4,000 children for a month in South Sudan alone.”
Christina said that this year has been especially tragic for so many children with famine casting a shadow over four nations, including South Sudan and Somalia, where over 20 million people are still at risk of starvation.
Globally, it is estimated that 5.6 million children under five died last year and that around three million of them had hunger related illnesses.
The Fast campaign raises funds that help provide high-energy therapeutic food for malnourished children to try and prevent their conditions becoming fatal and to reduce the sobering statistics that show how many people suffer from hunger.
A €30 donation can provide emergency nutrition support to a malnourished child for one month while €300 can provide a family with enough food to eat for six months.
Concern reached 22 million people in 27 countries in 2016, largely because of the funds it received from the Irish public, including donations from Fast.
“We cannot thank the Irish public enough for their ongoing support for Concern and all of our dedicated volunteers who do street collections and other fundraising activities,” added Christina Meehan.