From the Blog Action Day site:
Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day (TODAY!). The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. Global issues like poverty are extremely complex. There is no simple, clear answer. By asking thousands of different people to give their viewpoints & opinions, Blog Action Day creates an extraordinary lens through which to view these issues.
I am so spoiled. How do I know this? Because I’ve been around. Really.
What I mean is, I’ve done a lot of traveling and I’ve seen people living in poverty. In situations that I cannot even begin to imagine living in. I’ve seen the fear and uncertainty etched into the faces of those living with so little as they watch me, and I’ve felt guilty and spoiled. I’ve seen it in Guatemala, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Poland, the Czech Republic, Prague, Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, Sydney, and all across the U.S. in places like the hills of West Virginia where I helped rebuild homes after flooding. And inner city Chicago where I worked with Habitat for Humanity to help restore apartments. Not to mention on the streets of large cities all across the U.S. like San Francisco, L.A., New Orleans, New York City, and Boston, just to name a few. The more you see the more staggering it becomes. So many people, living with so very little. And yet, somehow, I return to my wonderful, climate controlled home with running water that’s safe to drink and a million other privileges that I take for granted every day, and the images of those people fade away. I forget. I can’t believe that it’s possible, but I forget.
Sure, I remember now and then. The ad for an organization asking for donations catches my attention and I remember. We donate to charities and/or missions. We have friends who have served or are serving with missions organizations, and we remember when we talk with them. But we don’t live with it. We don’t live with the fear of wondering how long our child will be without food or how long the little food we have will last. We don’t live with the uncertainty of whether or not our child will succumb to a common sickness like diarrhea. We don’t live with these issues every day like so many people in our world do. Too many people. People we can help.
I don’t want to forget. I want to do something to help keep the subject present in my life. I want to do something to make a difference. I want to teach Jenna that she can make a difference. There’s a lot of talk and concern about the current U.S. economy. Although we’re all feeling the pinch in many ways that we haven’t before, it might do us all some good to put our predicament into a global perspective, and to realize that we’re still “spoiled” by many standards. I am so very thankful for everything we have and the simple things we take for granted every day. Like access to medicine and doctors, clean water, food, a wonderful house, an education, heat, and clothes. Like the computer I’m using right now. Here are some sobering statistics to consider:
- Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
- The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
- Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
- Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
- 1 in 2 children in the world live in poverty. 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).
From Causes of Poverty
Global Priority…………………………………….. U.S. $Billions
Cosmetics in the U.S………………………………..$8 billion
Ice Cream in Europe………………………………..$11 billion
Pet food in U.S. & Europe…………………………$17 billion
Alcoholic drinks in Europe……………………….$105 billion
Military spending in world……………………….$780 billion
And compare that to what was estimated as additional costs to achieve universal access to basic social services in all developing countries:
Basic education for all………………………………$6 billion
Water & sanitation for all…………………………$9 billion
Reproductive health for all women………….$12 billion
Basic health & nutrition for all…………………$13 billion
Do you know that in 2000, 191 members of the United Nations committed to eight Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) to be reached by 2015?? At the halfway point, we haven’t done so well in reaching them. Here are the eight goals:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
Here’s what I’m going to do to make a difference. This Sunday, October 19, I am organizing a Stand Up & Take Action Event. I’m pledging to stand up for 30 minutes from 6 p.m. ET until 6:30 p.m. ET to demand that world leaders keep their promises to end poverty and global inequality. Will you stand with me? The site guidelines call for a gathering in one place, but we’ll be unconventional. They also only call for standing for only one minute sometime between October 17 and 19. If you’re willing to stand with me, leave a message in the comments section stating what region of the U.S. you’re in and the time and date that you’ll be standing (and for how long). I’ll register my blog info at the Stand Up site.
I tried to think of what I could do in a monetary way to keep the awareness of this issue at the forefront of my life. I decided that for every coffee drink I purchase (um…..that’s A LOT), I will donate the same amount of money to CARE. (And I’m going to work on a “Coffee Counter” for my sidebar to keep you posted). Here’s what the CARE website has to say:
CARE tackles underlying causes of poverty so that people can become self-sufficient. Recognizing that women and children suffer disproportionately from poverty, CARE places special emphasis on working with women to create permanent social change. Women are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.
Every time I sip a cup of coffee, I’ll take a moment to remember how very fortunate I am, and I’ll remember all the faces of poverty I’ve seen in my travels and the far-too-many that I’ve never seen that are out there nonetheless. And I’ll work on thinking of more ways that I can make a difference, every day.
What will you do? Start with watching this 8 minute video and then think of something you can do to change the world. It only takes a small thing. Do something. Tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.