Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Make Povery History

There are presently 1.8 billion people living in extreme poverty. These are people living on less than one dollar a day. Extreme poverty is described as “poverty that kills.”
About 30,000 children die every 24 hours from preventable causes and disease. This means that every three seconds, a child dies. (As an exercise, snap you fingers every three seconds for a couple of minutes and let the reality of what that means sink in.)

Consider this statement that carries heavy weight: “We are the first generation with the plan, the technology and the money to end world poverty. What we don’t have is the will.”

Did you know that one of the commitments made was that the richest nations of the world would contribute annually 0.7% of their Gross National Income to finance the development goals. So far, Canada has yet to meet half of that target. Actually, Canada currently gives only 0.3% of Gross National Income to foreign aid. That is only 1/3 of a penny for every dollar earned. The US has done no better. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have all exceeded their commitments.
Recently in Ottawa, finance minister Goodale met with Jeffrey Sachs and in conversation admitted that although Canada can certainly afford to honour its 0.7% GNI commitment, there simply isn’t the political will to do so.

That’s where we come in. This is where our vote matters. This is where the world begins to hear that preventable poverty is not only a moral outrage but a primary Christian concern as well.

This July 6-8 at the 2005 G8 Summit, hosted by the British government in Gleneagles, Tony Blair has promised to make the Millennium Development goals a primary topic. Before then, governments need to hear from their citizens that these are concerns we expect them to address.

There are many ways to do this, here are four:
1. The most important thing to do right now is to log on to the Make Poverty History and Micah Challenge websites listed below and register your name in support of the world’s poor. Governments take notice of people movements.

2.Start reading. The resources listed below are full of nuanced information to help us understand the complexity of poverty as well as the achievable solutions to an unacceptable situation.

3. Develop awareness among your friends and social groups, churches and e-community. Feel free to quote this letter, in part, or in its entirety. Encourage individuals to visit these sights to register their names. Governments do respond to these things.

4. Order white arm bands from www.makepovertyhistory site and give them to friends to wear for the next several months.

Here are some helpful websites - make sure you sign on to any petition offered: (Canadian) (US) (Canadian) (US)
- This is the best site I’ve found for a quick educational overview of the Make Poverty History Campaign. Click on the link for the campaign and follow the side bar issues. You can also find a quick two person skit that can easily be performed at your Church on a Sunday morning as part of an awareness campaign. This is home for the Bread For The World Institute, a Faith based group seeking justice for the hungry by engaging in research and education on policies related to hunger and development. Click on “who we are” on the sidebar, then click on “Receive our free 12 page booklet: What You Can Do to End Hunger.” This would be a great resource to pass on to friends and pastors.
This is the UN’s site dedicated to the Millennium Development Goals. At the site, click on “The Goals” at the top bar and read what follows. At the bottom you can select the goals individually for more detail.

Thanks for taking time to read this through. Besides your own personal giving to good charities, a few moments of your time to sign on to the various petitions at the above sites will send a powerful message to our governments about how we expect our nations to be compassionate world citizens. Please resist cynicism.
We simply need to speak out on behalf of those whose voice is not being heard.

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