Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm Hungry - Blog Action Day

Quite often I have heard people say “I am Hungry,” and then proceed to find some type of substance to fulfill their request. But what if your words fell onto deaf ears, or ears that could hear but could not do anything to help you? If you’ve ever fasted or gone without food for an extended period of time, than maybe you can relate. But if you haven’t – just imagine if there was no food in the fridge and you didn’t have the money to buy anything and all of your friends were in the same situation. How would you feel then?

How would you feel if you were starving? Dehydrated? Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic, but if you lived like that then you wouldn’t think this was such a moot point. The purpose in this imaginative thinking is to get you to think. Perhaps you have never dealt with poverty on a personal level. I know that I haven’t. Ans so it becomes this surreal “world problem” that can be flipped off with the late night shows showing kids from various third-world countries. It’s as easy as that to forget about the 850 million people in the US that go hungry each night. And it shouldn’t be. We should not turn away and forget about it because it doesn’t affect us, or isn’t important.

The topic of this years blog action day as you may have guessed is poverty. And so I was challenged. I was challenged to write my thoughts on poverty for the world to read. This is a daunting task, but I take it with the utmost respect. Because it is those without a voice that deserve to be most heard.

First, let’s get the facts straight. Poverty as defined in the United States is determined by the Department of Health & Human services. The thresholds and guidelines are provided with help from the US census. Basically, for a family of 4 an income less than $21, 200 per year would qualify you as being in the poverty level. For a single person it is about $10,000. The World Bank publishes that 1.4 billion people in the world live in poverty, defined as living on less than $1.25/day.

The United Nations Development Programme attributes poverty to at least 3 sources other than lack of income: “ill-health, illiteracy, [and] lack of access to basic social services.”

I’m not here to convince you that poverty exists, because it does. I am reminding you to reconsider it, because it has gone to the back of some of our brains. Perhaps we have gotten caught up in fighting other first that we just don’t have the energy. And that is a shame. It is a shame that in a world so plentiful people must die from hunger.One person in the Micah Challenge video (see link below) said that the only difference between a kid in an impoverished country and one in a wealthy country is their circumstance. If you were born into an unfortunate situation – wouldn’t you want help?

I’m not going to even try to encompass all that is poverty into this blog post. But doing this research has challenged me, and I hope you, to do something. I think we get so overwhelmed with other problems. And since we can’t possibly tackle everything, we lose energy and decided not to focus on any one particular problem.

So, you can close this window and never think of poverty again. However, hopefully I have at least momentarily convinced you to think of what you would like someone else to do if you were in an impoverished country.

There are a couple of things that individuals can do to help:
1) Find out more information and share with people – you can check out the references, use a search engine, learn more and get the facts
2) Write letters to your political representatives. It takes energy to bring about change and maybe there are some issues that your local area could change that would impact those in other places
3) Consider what you are buying. Where did it come from? Do we have free trade with them? Are we ripping those people off - We all want to save money, but at what expense? I was watching a podcast about Ethiopia’s coffee trade and how little money they were making when the middle men were making so much profit. Maybe we should stop to think about the trickle down effect and buy from people that give a fair share to the farmers.
4) Check out the Micah Challenge: encouraging people to help others and stop turning their heads to this problem which is affection millions.
5) Donate money to causes to help others get the food they need

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope that I can at least make 1 person reconsider the case for poverty.

God Bless!

US Dept of Health & Human Services Poverty Measure:

United Nations Development Programme