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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty

In honor of 2008 Blog Action Day, I'm devoting my blog to raising awareness about poverty. It's not a fun or easy subject to write about, but I hope you spend just a few minutes reflecting on this very serious global issue. By definition, a person in poverty does NOT have adequate food, shelter, water and other basic necessities. In the United States, the definition also includes "things others take for granted." If I really had to be honest and list all the things I took for granted everyday, it would be a very long list.

In America, we certainly know poor people and perhaps even some people that we'd classify as living in poverty. However, it's once you travel outside of the United States that you more fully understand the depths and horror of poverty. It wasn't until I visited Ecuador and the slums of Rio that I saw with my own eyes people living in abject poverty. These statistics are sobering and heartbreaking at the same time:

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than US$ (PPP) 1 per day,
and moderate poverty as less than $2 a day, estimating that "in 2001, 1.1
billion people had consumption levels below $1 a day and 2.7 billion lived on
less than $2 a day."[3]

I don't think I need to spend a great deal of time convincing my readers that poverty is bad and it's a huge problem. The question that then faces each of us, is "Now what?". I believe there are two things that the average American can and should do regarding worldwide poverty. The first thing I suggest is that, we as a society, should make sure that eradicating poverty is remains a mainstream idea and goal, always in our conscious & collective thoughts. The second suggestion I have is to find some small way to become directly involved, which of course means financial support.

In our nice houses, with full pantries and plasma TV's, it is easy to forget the millions of people dying every year from malnourishment. With the financial crises of this year, it's difficult to count our blessings and be reminded of how privileged we are to live in this country. I personally like to use travel as a first-hand reminder of how difficult life can be in other countries. I also find reading books about the struggles and triumphs of those in other countries is a great way to keep my heart sensitive to the plight of those trapped in poverty.

My second major suggestion is to get involved. This is especially easy to do if you are a Christian, as there are numerous missionary groups you can support. You can either travel or send money to various poverty-stricken areas of the world. Other groups which fight poverty through education, such as the Central Asia Institute founded by the author of Three Cups of Tea, are other great places where even $10 a month can make a difference. Some other great organizations that I think do an excellent job include, Doctors Without Borders (providing medical care in war zones) and World Hunger. You can also volunteer or donate in your local area at a food shelter or tutoring under-privileged children. A final way for you to be involved is to let your politicians know that you support foreign aid programs to fight poverty, eradicate disease and promote education.

GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: I think awareness and education are the best first steps to fighting poverty.


Liza's Eyeview said...

Excellent Blog Action day post on Poverty. I also participated and hoping we have a difference and spurred people into action.

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