Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

by prash on 15 Oct 2008

Today, October 15th, is Blog Action Day: a day when thousands of bloggers around the world come together to write about a particular issue. This year, that issue is Poverty and according to site they “aim to raise awareness, initiate action and to shake the web!” I am happy to play a small role in talking about this critical issue.

1.4 Billion People Live On Less Than $1.25 Every Day
1.4 Billion People Live On Less Than $1.25 Every Day

And more than 3 billion people – or half the world’s population – live on less than $2.50 a day.

Apathetic Perspective?

My perspective on poverty is obviously shaped by the environment in which I was raised and when you live and grow up in a country like India where unfortunately you stare poverty in the face every single day. The Atlas Of The Real World which contains maps of the world in which countries are shown not based on actual territorial sizes, but on different criteria like number of immigrants or wealth of its citizens, presents this altogether disheartening map of Poverty:

Map Of The World where each territory shows the number of people living on US$2 a day or less.

Map Of The World where each territory shows the number of people living on US$2 a day or less.

It leads to a kind of, for want of a better word, apathy. Seeing something everyday only makes you notice it less. It’s not that you don’t care, it’s that you are overwhelmed and that feeling gradually leads to despair, despondency and finally surrender. You roll down your car windows to drop a coin into the ever-waiting begging bowls at traffic signal after signal until you end up realizing: (1) “It’s too big for me alone to handle” and (2)”There is nothing I can do about it”.

(1) might be true. You “alone” probably cannot “solve” this problem in the standard definition of the word. But, (2) is certainly not true. At least, not anymore.

Think. Then Act Locally and Globally

You have always heard to “Think Globally, Act Locally” but with the Internet on your side you can act Globally at a fraction of the cost of what it would have been just a few years back. Just a few things to consider doing today (and always):

Act Locally:

  1. Donate: Old clothes, books, toys.
  2. Mentor: Education is a pet panacea of mine and my friends often tease on the extent to which I think it is the “one solution to all problems”. While I could rant endlessly on the various ways a sound education to every child until the age of 18 could reshape our entire planet and create a generation of smart, responsible citizens, I’ll check myself since I am talking about acting locally and just advocate mentoring or tutoring as a simple and effective way to make a positive difference in a child’s life.
  3. Raise awareness: See poverty in your neighbourhood? Think you have a solution? Your local Representatives and Congressmen should hear about it. From you. Now.

Act Globally:

  1. Visit The Hunger Site: You click on a button, the sponsors of the site give to charity. Simple and effective.
  2. Play FreeRice: 20 grains of rice are donated everytime you answer questions on a variety of subjects. (I wrote about this site last Novemeber)
  3. Setup a microloan on Kiva: Another concept virtually impossible without the Internet. You give a small loan (even as low as $25) to a needy person across the world and watch as it helps that person fulfill his/her dream of an enterprise. The entrepreneurs are pre-screened and commit to working hard to lift themselves out of poverty and pay back your loan which they indeed do (99.7% of the time!).

These are obviously just a few things you can do but for a lot more ways you can make a difference, check out these resources:

  1. 88 Ways to Take Action Against Poverty Right Now
  2. Make Poverty History
  3. Oxfam International

Spread the word today by blogging or emailing your thoughts. Let’s Unite To Make Poverty History!

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