Today is The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The theme of the 2010 edition of this day is “From Poverty to Decent Work: bridging the gap.”
I can’t think of a better theme. All the charity in the world will never end poverty. The poor don’t want hand-outs. They want to be able to support themselves with meaningful work. Meaningful work could be farming, jewelry-making, cooking, teaching, weaving, fishing, you name it!
The thing is, everybody has talent. This talent must be harnessed and utilized to improve society and human life here on earth. The problem is that poor people don’t have the capital or support to get started. They’re stuck in a no-win situation where every day is all about finding enough food to eat and enough clean water to drink. There is no energy to build a business.
I just finished reading Muhammad Yunus’s book, Banker to the Poor, which talks precisely about this problem and what the Grameen Bank has done in Bangladesh and other countries (including the US!) to help the poor pull themselves out of poverty by providing them small loans (or “microcredit”). Dr. Yunus is not in favor of hand-outs. In fact, he’s been quoted so say about beggars:
“I feel bad – sometimes I feel terrible – that I’m denying the person. But I restrain myself. I never give them anything. I would rather try to solve the problem than just give them a hand and take care of them for the day.”
Yes, there will always be people who can’t help themselves and we need a support system for them. We also need emergency funds for natural disasters and other emergencies. However, we will never solve the problem that is poverty with hand-outs. Able-bodied people need to be given the opportunity to make a living and contribute to the global economy. And Dr. Yunus has proven that it’s possible.
There are several other organizations that promote the same concept. You can see a handful of them on the Share section of this website.
To celebrate this day, I have decided to put more money into my Kiva account. It would be super cool if some of you would join the Simply Enough Kiva team and do the same! Or if you’re not into Kiva, do something else to help promote the eradication of poverty. It’s all of our business.
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