In this opening episode for Season 3 of Awake at Night, host Melissa Fleming speaks with David Beasley, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme*, about his own experience being sick with COVID-19 and why people should listen to the science.  He also explains why the pandemic is causing an spiraling epidemic of hunger.

In Mr. Beasley's words, should the world fail to come together and invest in people everywhere, we may face "famines of biblical proportions."

"We now have 135 million people around the world that are on the brink of starvation. But with COVID, it could be 270 million people. And these are not people that go to bed hungry. These are people that literally don't know where their next meal is that are on the brink of starvation. And if they lose their access to food because of supply chain disruption, or because [of] economic deterioration in their own country, as well as donors who can't send it because they're doing major economic financial incentive packages in their own, you know, revitalization packages, this is going to be absolutely horrific. We're going to be looking at mass starvation, death, mass migration by necessity and exploitation by extremist groups," said Mr. Beasley.

From his home in South Carolina, to Yemen, to Sudan and Ethiopia, Mr. Beasley shares candid moments of his journey in the world of humanitarian work, and his thoughts on why the UN is needed now more than ever.

Season three of Awake at Night is dedicated to the people at the United Nations who are at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Extraordinary stories from those who dedicate their lives to helping others.

*UN WFP is the 2020 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize


Full Transcript +

Edited Transcript


MF: I'm Melissa Fleming and I'm the United Nations chief of communications and welcome to this new season of my podcast awake at night. This season is dedicated to the people at the United Nations who are at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, extraordinary stories from those who dedicate their lives to helping others. My guest this week is David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme. I'm going to ask you David about your work shortly. But because this series is talking about COVID-19, which has really overtaken our world, you yourself were actually diagnosed with Coronavirus in March. Can you just tell us what happened?

DB: I was travelling. I was on field trips in the Middle East and then Canada and coming back to Washington DC and I was actually going home in my permanent home in South Carolina. For the first time and like many, many, many months, you know how that is, we never get to go our real home anymore. And it was on March 13 on a Friday. And if you know anything about the South, March is when there's pollen everywhere. So I got home and everything was coloured in yellow pollen. And so I thought I started that afternoon having a little bit of an allergy, a little bit of a cough a little bit of a achy pain. And I just been tested twice negative for COVID. So I didn't even think it was that and I've, and I've been really careful. And well, Friday evening, I had a little fever and Saturday and Sunday aches and pains but not bad. But I still I say it's just the allergy. Monday, I was feeling good. And I got to think and I said, you know, I meet so many people. Better be careful. And I was at home so I was kind of semi quarantine. I wasn't seeing anybody anyway. And so Monday I went got tested, and sure enough it came back positive and, and fortunately I was kind of quarantine anyway. But you know, it never got real bad. But it just cycled for three straight weeks. I just couldn't get rid of it. But it was never like, I'm about to die, I got to go to the hospital. It just kind of hung in there, up and down and up and down. And so, you know, I was in one end of my house and thank God for pizza because my wife could slide it under the door, you know, and she fed me that way. And, and I literally was isolated for three weeks. But the good news, I was on my own home and we have farm. So I was able to actually, after about a week and a half, could walk outside and walk around because it was nobody within a mile anyway. So that was nice. I got very fresh air, got some exercise, and I took vitamins, did the things you needed to do. And of course, at that point in time the world began going virtual. And so then I began operating virtually. And now was probably one of the first, I guess, leaders around the world that had gotten this particular virus. So everybody wanted to know so, time when I got it, I let my team my staff know that hey, I've got it, and please be careful. This is a highly contagious disease, don't play around with this. Listen to the experts, wear the masks, distance yourself, do those kind of things, you know, because as we now see in several months later, it's impacting the world, but I'm, you know, I guess I'm being a little bit dangerous to myself, because I feel like I've got the antibodies and I'm invincible and so I just feel like I could go anywhere. And I still need to be careful because we don't know how long the antibodies last. But I had been out in the field. And I did that intentionally because, you know, everybody sort of hunkered down or had been sort of semi quarantine and isolated working from home but our people in the United Nations they're out in the field, delivering life saving food, whether it's UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR, and I felt like you know, I've got this immunity, I'm going out there and patting our teams on the back, say keep going, but don't be reckless, be responsible. So anyway, I'm glad it's behind me now,

MF: This virus, and I think it was even more mysterious in March when you had it, did you ever really worry that it could get you?

DB: You know, there was so much propaganda in the first few weeks. I mean, you just, you just didn't know. And not many people know this but my background and studies were as a microbiologist so I had to some degree knowledge about viruses, infectious disease, and in viruses, particularly Coronaviruses I was reading. Yeah, they do operate with a certain consistency pattern. So I felt like you know, alright, let me watch what.. I hear... Watch and listen to what's out there. And then you'd hear I kind of hear a friend who got it, who was like seventy years old was put in the hospital recovering getting better than bam, but die. I'm like, Oh my gosh, you know. So then you started learning that this COVID thing, it takes strange turns and it is a little bit different than the standard Coronavirus. And we were still learning about it. So the first week, you know, I was just like, I was okay about it. I felt like I was gonna be okay. But the second week, and I never really told anybody this, I started getting a little chest congestion. And, and that really, really worried us because that's when you get into serious trouble. And so I have to admit, I mean, my family, all of us were praying really, really hard. And the next day, it sort of went away, and I felt relieved, but, but you just never knew when it was gonna kind of come back. Am I gonna get into this lungs issue? And so we were just a little bit concerned because of that unknown and because it kept lingering. And, you know, I'm not a young young fella like I used to be and I think, you know, I could do it but Hey, thank goodness, it is behind me. But there were a few moments in that point in time that we were a little bit concerned. But you know, I'm very grateful. And I wish everybody could have the antibody and but everybody's got to be responsible in this one. It's very important and take the vitamins now keep yourself healthy. Be careful, not just in washing your hands in the mass, but take vitamins, eat right, don't get your immune system down, particularly if you go be going out and doing things. Be extra careful. That's where a lot of my friends were like, you've got to slow down your immune system is weak because you're going and travelling all day and every night like you know how the humanitarian world is. And so we have to be extra careful because I think our immune systems get a little weaker, because we're, you know, how many all nighters do we do every week, flying all night long and getting here and going right onto the field. And so, that's our work. That's what really keeps us up at night. And keeps us up all night.


MF: You come from South Carolina and it's really hitting South Carolina hard. So what would you say to your, you know, members of your community and friends and family across the state?

DB: Well, you got to just use common sense. Distance yourself. Wear the mask, wash your hands, be careful, don't get in crowded spaces, especially whether it's public transportation, or without having all the necessary equipment, so to speak. And if you're aged, or have any vulnerability at all, whether it's diabetes or any other issues, you have got to be extremely careful, extremely careful. Don't play with this disease. It is the most contagious disease I have ever seen. Thank God it doesn't have the fatality rate like Ebola. It's bad enough as it is, and we haven't seen the worst of this thing, yet. As I tell my friends in South Carolina I know my young friends want to go to the beaches. I said, look, you just be careful. Don't be silly. And when you go out at night, don't be reckless. Be careful, because it's not just, okay, I understand young people hardly get sick from this thing. But some do. But even if you're asymptomatic, or get it, you'd have very little symptoms you can you can carry that to your loved ones, your grandpa, your grandma, your elderly. So please think of others, as you think about what you want to be doing from day in and day out. I know you've been locked down, I know you're ready to get out. But when you do get out, be careful. Think about others as well.

MF: Your focus at the World Food Programme is the vulnerable countries of the world. And, you know, you as soon as you recovered, you went to Africa and you visited people there. You visited the hubs where you're receiving the supplies on behalf of the humanitarian system and delivering them. What is it that you're concerned about most for those populations, when you think about this pandemic, and also just your personal experience with it?

DB: Well, you know, the pandemic, the COVID pandemic is in itself, just a huge global impact. And what really got me concerned, and as this was unfolding globally and as hard to think of where we were mentally, about three months ago, but everyone was just talking about it from a health impact. And you know, those of us in the humanitarian sphere, we know if there's economic deterioration in the major donor nations, the impact that that ripple effects into developing nations can be catastrophic for a variety of different reasons. And so, Tony Blair, had called me about two, two months ago and he said, David, what do you, what are you seeing out there? What are you thinking? And that's it. Tony, I'm really worried. I said, obviously, I'm worried about COVID. But everyone's making decisions based only from a health impact. And I said, no one's looking at the broader spectrum of what's going to be the downstream ripple effect with regards to supply chain disruptions, economic deterioration, etc, etc. So I walked through several countries of what was going to happen over the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months. And Tony was like, Oh my God, nobody's really begun to think about that. I said, Tony, well, we don't have a choice because we have to look to the future so we can plan ahead. And I said it really is gonna be catastrophic if we don't balance this right, because it can't be COVID versus starvation. We have to work these two issues together. Because if we don't, and don't plan and prepare and react to COVID right, we'll end up downstream more people, hundreds of more people times, dying from hunger, starvation, etc, than from the disease itself. As someone said, the cure could be worse than the disease. So we've really got to get this thing right. And so now, when I was speaking to the Security Council at the United Nations just about a month and a half ago, I said, let me help you understand what we're facing out there. We now have 135 million people around the world that are on the brink of starvation. But with COVID, it could be 270 million people. And these are not people that go to bed hungry. These are people that literally don't know where their next meal is, that are on the brink of starvation. And if they lose their access to food because of supply chain disruption, or because economic deterioration in their own country, as well as donors who can't send it because they're doing major economic financial incentive packages in their own, you know, revitalization packages, this is going to be absolutely horrific. We're going to be looking at mass starvation, death, mass migration by necessity and exploitation by extremist groups, so the leaders around the world need to understand they can't take from this pot of funds to give to that pot of funds. We've got to step up so that we help everybody maintain stability and peace around the world, while we deal with this very contagious, and very, very deadly disease.


MF: I think to the Security Council, you used a term that really caught the attention of the world. And it made headlines. What was it?

DB: Yeah, it was a famines of biblical proportions.

MF: Why did you chose that term?

DB: Well, I think it was a, it was a, more of a try to impact effect because, you know, this is, I've been fussing and you've heard me say this to the media in the last two years in the media, so it's just been Brexit, Brexit, Brexit, or Trump, Trump, Trump, and nobody's given the balanced attention to the problems around the world. You know, war and conflict, the poor, that are really struggling from these issues along with climate shocks and climate extremes and in poor governance, etc. And so I was looking for something that would catch the attention beyond Trump and Brexit so that people could say, oh my goodness, you're kidding me. So it's, you know, with the world's social media is harder to break through nowadays about what's happening, the people that are truly suffering around the world. And so we thought, number one, that that phrase would be real catchy. And number two, that it really does, sort of, in a simple phrase, catch the reality of this is going to be catastrophic, because we will end up with a COVID pandemic, and a hunger pandemic. And together, it really could bring the world to its knees, a depression, or even, even I want to say worse, but it's bad enough as it is, but I'm afraid it's going to get worse.

David Beasley sits next to a child and mother on a hospital bed in Yemen.


MF: You just visited places like Ethiopia and Sudan and in your encounters there was there anything that really just any personal story that really moved you.

DB: You know, when I was a young kid, I dedicated my life, I wanted to help people. And I got that from my, my mom, my dad, and by the civil rights movement back in the 60s and in the 70s. And then I ran for the House of Representatives when I was a 20 year old student planning on going to medical school and this and that, and, and, you know, so forth. And so when I entered into this role, because I've always had a heart for helping people around the world. And so I was, you know, not just in the last couple of months, but probably one of the most striking moments I've had at the World Food Programme was an incident when I was in Yemen. You remember there was the blockade and aide was not getting in and, and I knew I had to get down there and jump up and down to bring to the world pictures of the reality. I just was not expecting to be as bad as I saw it. I remember, we were in the, you know, most of the hospitals were shut down. But in this one hospital, I remember walking into the room and, and you know, you see a little one or two year old and, and there's a mother there and this hospital, it was silent. The babies were too weak to cry. And it was just heartbreaking from room to room and I walked into this next room and there was the mother and there was a baby with a little feet sticking out from the blanket, you know, you know, your instincts to go tickle the little feet and get a little laugh. And it was like tickling the ghost it, it was just heartbreaking. And I, I don't think I've ever told anybody this other than maybe my wife. But you know, you got the entourage with you. And they kind of standing out in the hall. I actually had to walk out with my head down and go around the corner and just tear up. Oh, it was just so hard. And so I had to kind of get myself back together and come back in but it was just so heartbreaking. And I've got so many stories like that. But you know, I think that's why we at headquarters, we've got to go to the field. Because when you see the tragedy, and you see the heartbreak it gives you, it empowers you from the depth and core of your soul to speak with all the passion in the world, because this is our humanity, this, these are our little brothers. These are our little sisters. And we've got to go out there and be willing to fight for them. And so it gives you that extra passion. Because this is so easy to get in headquarters to get stuck in the minutiae of the paperwork and all the, but you get out of the field. You just like, Oh, this is why I'm here. And this is what it's all about. And so I'm always encouraging our leadership to go to the field. Get out there. I know you've been out there 20 years ago, and five years ago, but go out there again and feel it in the heart, why we're here to help the people. And so there's some heartbreak stories out there. But you know, when I see Those little girls and little boys eyes, in the most amazingly horrible places, you think, and how can they have a smile at all and they're not in that hospital, and you'd be out there and the toughest place and you'll see those little eyes, a little smile on those little children, they have nothing at all. But boy, they have hope. It just rekindles your spirit that don't give up. You know, don't give up. Never, ever, ever give up.

David Beasley sits next to a child and mother on a hospital bed in Yemen.

MF: You mentioned your mother and you said that she was somehow an inspiration for you not just to go to medical school and become a medical doctor, but to actually make a difference in people's lives. What was it about her? What did she teach you?

DB: Oh, I could go way back, but my mother was a social worker. And back in the days when, you know, social workers had to do it on their own. If you had child abuse and neglect at a home, I can remember, literally when I was a kid, in my, and I was, I grew up in a broken home. And so, literally she get a phone call that, you know, a woman was being beaten by her husband or whatever, and you're usually a drunken husband, and it'd be in the middle of the night. And I was be a little kid. And so I had to be in the car with her. So we go, I literally remember parking. And I don't think I've ever told this story publicly. But this was not an unusual story in my life at that time. And she would park the car with the lights be off and we'd walk and get in the ditch and hide until the lights went out, or like the husband finally passed out or something. And she would run in there, and grabbed the mother and child and run back out and we'd be running down the road, but she was just a fighter, a warrior, and she was a public school teacher. And she was a teacher during the big, if you remember the racial integration in the public schools in the south, my school was actually one of the first racially integrated schools in the United States by force. And so you remember the school buses that were turned over? That was my school. And so we were a 99% white school. And then overnight, we became a 99% non-white school. And I was one of the, my brothers and I, one of the family were only whites that went to that school at that time. And so my mother was a teacher. And so she was not going to back down from the, from the school system. And our family stood in there. And it was a tough time. Back when, and so she in, you know, just just told us by example, you know, you stand up for what's good, you stand up for what's right, you got to be willing to take a hit in whatever the case may be. And so, you know, she instilled in me and my brothers this value of you do what's right, and don't worry about the consequences. And that's, that's, that's just the way it is for me and, and I get in trouble sometimes at the UN for saying things I probably shouldn't have said. I'll ask the, I'll ask the Secretary General I say, and he might say well you might want to say it a little bit differently. He's always coaching me to, to, but he said don't quit being you, you know. Coz you speak a language that everybody needs to hear, so I'm still I'm still learning.


MF: You began your career in US politics before you joined the UN. And you were governor of South Carolina. How do you feel when you see injustice in your own country?

DB: You know, regardless of where it is, but you know, when it is in your own country, it just, oh, it burns in you so deeply. And you're on the phone saying, hey, you need to get on top of this and need to get this resolved and bring the people together and this kind of thing. And, you know, these kinds of things keep you up at night. And yet, I want to tell my friends at home, I said, you need to see the tragedies around the world. And let me, let me show you what happens when you don't respect one another. Let me show you what happens when you don't have equality and justice. And I said, we don't want to go there. We need to step up our game and the United States has been such a model around the world and, you know, I still hope for the best and I believe that America will make the right turn and get there. And let's pray and hope that's the case because the world needs a strong America, the world needs for nations around the world to really move forward, and get these issues in the rear view window.

MF: How did you end up going from a governor of South Carolina to being in one of the key roles of the UN fighting global hunger?

DB: Well, you know, I got this phone call, you know, Bush, Bush and I had been very, very good friends. We were governors together and and then you get these phone calls when he's laid out what do you want to do with the Bush administration? And, and I told Bush, I said, Look, you're my brother. I love you. I said, but my ego is self contained. I don't need a title. I don't need a cabinet position. I actually want to go home and spend time with my family, my children because I'd been in politics all my life. I'd been governor, I had a business but I wanted to really have some quality time with my kids. So I said no then, so when, when this administration was elected, I get this phone call, I might look, I told my one of my best friends, I don't work with him. I really wanted. I've been doing a lot of humanitarian work in the past many years. And I said, I want to stay focused on that, because I'm very concerned about the world. And this was three and a half years ago. And then I get this phone call from an old friend that says, hey, would you consider a position in the United Nations? I said, No way. I said, no, no. And I remembered my wife. This is no kidding two days earlier. She said, I want you to commit to me that you won't say no immediately when you get a phone call, and I said, why? you don't want me to go back to Washington? She says no, she is saying I think the world's in trouble and needs reasonable voices and leadership right now. I said, All right. So I remembered what she said when that phone call came in. And, and it was a friend of the UN and who was very concerned about the Trump administration, you know, that they were gonna be cutting the funds and things like that. And so I called a friend of mine, but and then, and as we were talking about the agencies mentioned the World Food Programme, and he knew I had a heart for humanitarian work. And, so I called this former United States Ambassador, Democrat congressman who was sort of one of my prayer partners, Tony Hall. And I said, Tony, tell me about the World Food Programme. Oh my God, if there's ever God's work on earth it's the World Food Programme, they help everybody no matter your religion, your sex, no nationalities. And I'm like, Oh, my God. I said, Tony, well, what about? You know, I've always read that the world, the United Nations is not really efficient, maybe not as effective. He says, No, no, no, no, no, no, the World Food Programme is different, you know, and I, and I've learned, because I've always thought the UN ought to be here. And I had this image that it was sort of down here and I found out it's actually somewhere in between, and we're all striving to make it better. And I have found that oh my gosh, the United Nations has got some of the most amazing people and programs you could ever imagine. And so that began the journey. And that's how literally it all started on you about that much about the World Food Programme. But one thing I believe in is management and leadership and inspiring others. Because you can, it doesn't matter if you're president of the United States or any country, you can't know it all. You got to have great people under you, with you, and you got to inspire them, and you've got to empower them. And so when I got to the World Food Programme, I was like, Oh my gosh, you people are amazing, you know, and, and so I always ask him, what can I do to get things out of your way? What do you need to get the job done? And how can we at headquarters continue to support you so that you can continue to make a difference out there in the world? And so that was the I know that some people don't like hearing that from a UN perspective, but you kind of have to know where I was coming from. Way back when. And so now, I really do believe The United Nations is positioned in such a way to prove itself to the world that it's needed now more than ever, and we are going to deliver, we're going to get it done.

David Beasley looks out through a window in an airplane.


MF: I'm sure you energise a lot of people, once they hear your passion, how can people help? And what do you say to people when they say, what can I do?

DB: You know, you get all these kinds of questions and depends upon the individual asking, and actually what you can give money directly. You know, if it's private sector, for example, I'll say, look, you know, yes, I'm interested in getting your money. I said, but I'm equally more interested, you're engaging in these communities. And one of the things I was speaking just the other day, with about 50 CEOs around the world, I said, I said, you, I understand your shareholders want a return on investment. I said, but here's what I'm asking you. I'm asking you to go into the more difficult countries and be willing to take a less return on your investment over a longer time period to bring stability, growth and opportunity, and develop, design systems that bring success that you've encountered and been able to be successful financially. And otherwise. I said, if you don't do that we can't get there. And I said, please engage. I remember, and this is ah.. Scott Pelley he was 60 minutes. We were, I don't know, if you remember Scott Palley. And Scott and I were talking, doing a show one night it was. It happen to be on Yemen. And at the end of the interview, and we've taken the mics off and Scott said, you know, wow, you humanitarian workers. It's amazing what y’all do. And he says, and he says, to personally to me, says, Governor, you've got the greatest job in the world, saving people around the world. And I said, Scott. I do. I really have the greatest job in the world, my children tell me Dad, we're prouder of you now than when you when you were governor. It brings tears to your eyes and I said Scott but I’m gonna, I’m gonna, say something to you, that's gonna bother you. And you haven't thought about it and he looked at me like, what could that be? And I said. I don't go to bed at night thinking about the children we saved. I go to bed at night thinking about the children we couldn't get to. And so when I don't, when my people, our teams don't have the money, or the access, we have to choose which children eat which children don't’ eat, which children live which children die, and how would you like that job, Scott? And he says, Oh my God. He says, I've never thought about it. I said, Well, we don't have a choice. Because this is our job. And I said Scott, it is the greatest job on Earth. But it's heartbreaking too and that keeps me up at night. It really does because I'm thinking all right, I gotta raise more money. I got to get more access, I gotta do this. I got to do that. And but you know, there's enough wealth and experience and expertise around the world, not a single child should go to bed hungry, or malnourished, not one. And I know we've built systems in the last 200 years of sharing more wealth, and less poverty today, less hunger today, percentage wise, I mean, ever in history, but we're still not getting to that 800 million give or take people. And we can't stop. We can't tear it down. The systems have gotten us where we are. But we got to keep working. We got to keep tweaking it, we got to keep putting our heart because try telling that person who's not getting the food that the system's working. And so if one is left out there that's one too many, and this is what I love about my friends and in the United Nations and our NGO partners and others around the world, and you know whether it's Henrietta Fore, UNICEF, Filippo Grandi or Antonio, I mean, they're all just our, they're family, and what can we do to inspire others? To understand that we're not going to solve this at the UN, by ourselves? We've got to inspire the world to take this on their own, look to your neighbour, love your neighbour, who's your neighbour, where's your neighbour? And don't worry about the colour of their skin, their religion, and so we're all, you know, one humanity together. So anyway, anyway.


MF: Well, I mean, you answered my question, which is the title of the podcast, which I ask everybody I interview, you know, what keeps you awake at night? So when you are awake at night, thinking about those who you're not able to save, what do you think about that gets you up in the morning?

DB: Well, I'm thinking about what's next. All right, what am I missing? What else can I do? Who else do I need to call? Where do I need to go? To bring the attention, and, and that's what a leader's got to do. It's just not about checking boxes, it's thinking beyond the norm, and saying, all right, what else is it going, particularly in environments like now where raising extra funds is not so easy. So you've got to be thinking of every stone that can be unturned and log that can be rolled over and see what can be done. And so I'm thinking about that, how to make sure our systems are stronger. And make sure our teams out on the field, get what they need. And it's a lot to juggle, as you well know, but it makes a difference. And I remember when I had some friend of mine said, Nah, y'all don't care whether you're wasting money. I said, No, no, no, no, no, no. Let me tell you something. My people out in the field because we can feed a child for 25 cents. My people out in the field, they know if they can save $1 by being more efficient. That's four meals for a child. I said, that's how they think. And this person like, you're kidding, I said, No, no, no, no, no, I'm not kidding at all. I tell you, we've got the highest standard of anybody because it's not like in business, if you get it wrong, you might not make as much money. Our responsiblity, if we get it wrong, people die. And if we get it right, people live, and if we get it right more efficiently, more people can be impacted by us. So I think we've got the highest call and and the highest responsibility to be the most strategic and hold each other accountable as we move forward out there, whether it's in COVID circumstances or times of peace.


MF: Do you have any regrets?

DB: No, no, no, not at all. I try to ask myself three questions. Especially when it comes to major issues. Did I do what was right? Did I do what was right when it was right to do it, because a lot of people won't stand for what's right when it will cost them anything. And the third is, when I did what was right, at the right time, did I do it the right way? In other words, did I do with Love and Compassion or out of bitterness and hatred and divisiveness. You know, we can have differences of opinion. But can we promote our issues and stand for the issues we believe in, in a loving, compassionate way that helps bring and brings people together, even if we have differences and that sort of, I ask those three things. So the end of the day, you can say yes to all three, then even if you failed in the eyes of the world, you've been successful. And so, anyway, I don't want to look back a week from now or a couple years from now, and, because I've had people say, Oh, you're raising so much money, you need to take a break. I'm like, No, no, you don't understand. I, we got more people out there. And this is what invigorates me and this is what I'm going to do, and, or I'll have somebody say, don't say that in the United Nations Security Council. You really gonna upset. And I'm like, please don't tell me that. That, that makes me more want to say something you know, and so, you know, you keep, you got to stand strong and you, but you got to do it. Thankfully, I think if you stand strong and do it respectfully, even when people disagree with you, they're like, you know, that person stood for what they believed in and did it respectfully and, and I think that's what the world needs right now come together we don't have to agree on everything because I think diversity is amazingly beautiful thing. But we're one human, one humanity all together.

MF: David Beasley that was incredibly inspiring. I thank you so much for sharing your history and your passion for helping the hungry people around the world. Thank you so much, David.

DB: Thank you, Melissa.

MF: Thank you for listening to Awake at Night. We'll be back soon with more incredible and inspiring stories from people working to do some good in this world, at a time of this devastating pandemic. To find out more about the series and the extraordinary people featured, do visit UN dot org slash Awake at Night. On Twitter, we're at un, and I'm at Melissa Fleming. You can follow David Beasley on, at WFP chief. Subscribe to awake at night wherever you get your podcasts and please take the time to review us, it makes a difference. Thanks to my colleagues at the UN and to my producers Bethany Bell, and the team at Chalk and Blade, Laura Sheeter, Fatuma Khaireh and Alex Portfelix. The sound design and additional music was by Pascal Wyse. And the original music for this podcast was written and performed by Nadine Shah – and produced by Ben Hillier.