If you haven’t already noticed, global poverty is pretty much the most interesting thing in the world to me.
I don’t really know why. It hasn’t always been. Maybe I read one too many stories about a sweet Cambodian girl who was sold into sex slavery. Maybe statistics like 22,000 children dying EVERY DAY due to poverty-related issues really struck a chord. Maybe books like Hole in our Gospel made me realize it’s my responsibility as Christian and a human to do something to help. Somewhere along the way, something in me decided that I can’t pretend that these things don’t happen; that I can’t go on living in my little comfortable bubble while billions of people are suffering.
And sometimes that is really depressing. I mean, when you read statistics like 1 BILLION people lack access to clean water, how do you even start to process that? How can little ole me even begin to make a difference? The problems seem so overwhelming that it’s easy to get discouraged, easy to think that poverty will always exist, easy to think that there’s nothing I can do.
In 2000, the 189 nations who are members of United Nations put together 8 Millennium Development Goals. All of the member nations pledged to work towards achieving these goals by 2015. They include things like eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, education for all, reducing child mortality rates, empowering women, etc. You can read more about the specific targets and how they are measured here. This site is so interesting; you can find more positive stats like the ones below and also learn more about the challenging areas.
And guess what?
Real progress is being made!
How about these statistics?
- Extreme Poverty rates have been cut in half since 1990- 5 years ahead of the 2015 goal
- Enrollment in primary education in developing regions has reached 90%- up 82% since 1999- with near equality at the primary level for boys and girls
- 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990
- 1.1 million malaria deaths were prevented in the span of 10 years
- 2.1 billion people gained access to clean drinking water since 1990
Now, it is true that there is still a long ways to go. But I think these stats are so encouraging and prove that putting focus on these issues can really make a difference.
I’m also reading about successful smaller efforts. Our adoption agency’s nonprofit, Partners in Hope, works to achieve family preservation in China, Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam. Most of the children Partners works with live in families that are struggling to stay together against devastating poverty or disease. Partner’s goal is to keep these families intact. Their latest project in Ethiopia, the Bright Hope School, is based in the center of a community around the Leper Hospital. About 2,000 kids from the poorest of poor families attend. Here is what their current kitchen looks like:
Over the past couple of years, a nearly half-mile long wall was built around the school and a well was dug. The well provided clean drinking water and allowed the school to get cows, chickens, and a garden.
Earlier this year, construction on a new kitchen started after being stalled due to lack of funds.
So yes, global poverty is extremely overwhelming- but people CAN and DO make a difference!! These stories and stats prove it!