Poverty. A word that brings to mind a million images of big-bellied children in Africa, “the projects,” old men sleeping in the subway station, Haiti, foreign aid, mounds of grain, McDonald’s, AIDS, inequality, Hollywood, schools with no walls or roofs, missing teeth, obesity, starvation, hope, and despair.
Here is what wikipedia has to say about poverty: “Poverty refers to the condition of not having the means to afford basic human needs such as clean water, nutrition, health care, clothing, and shelter.”
This is also referred to as “absolute poverty.” I.e., being poor in Africa is different from being poor in the USA (“relative poverty”).
The most frustrating part of poverty is that it is unnecessary. There are (still) enough resources on the planet for everybody to have enough. But we in the west are taking more than our share. Me included. We have fooled ourselves into thinking that it’s OK. When it’s not.
25,000 people will die from hunger and hunger-related causes today. TODAY! And again tomorrow. And the day after that. We have failed our global community in an inexcusable way.
According to Global Issues, almost half of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day. It is unfathomable. The gap between rich and poor is growing, not shrinking. Is this what we call progress?
But it doesn’t help to sit and throw out statistics on a blog post. We (I) must take action! There are lots of organizations out there working to end poverty that need our support. Here are some of my favories:
- Oxfam International: A group of non-governmental organizations from three continents working worldwide to fight poverty and injustice.
- Heifer International is a non-profit organization whose goal is to help end world hunger and poverty through self-reliance & sustainability.
- Central Asia Institute promotes and supports community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
- Ten Thousand Villages: “Your fair trade purchase of handmade jewelry, home decor and gifts helps improve the lives of thousands of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.”
- Kiva connects people through lending to alleviate poverty.
I am a firm believer that we must provide a good starting point for all people if we are to end poverty. Education is the key. As such, I am looking to start a project to provide the basics necessities to enable poor children in India to attend school. For some children, it’s just a matter of having a uniform, text books, a healthy lunch, and supplies. Without these items, education is not a possibility. If we provide these items, there is no end to the possibilities! (More to come…)
Take action today, whether it is giving money to one of the organizations above, changing your lifestyle to take only your share (or as close to it as possible), or donating your time to raise awareness about poverty and global injustice.