Sunday, 10 July 2011

A drop in the bucket

Saw this on a blog this morning and it brought up old questions about world poverty that I used to spend quite a bit of time thinking about. I think giving aid is very complicated and that sometimes offering help without understanding anything about the people you're offering it to can do more harm than good. I also doubt that the solution to cutting world poverty in half is a single number and am less convinced that the answer is totally about money. In a class of mine in university the prof told us about some country (I can't remember which country she was talking about specifically here) that was given aid from the U.S. The aid money was to be used to grow cash crops. The farmers would use the money, grow the product, and then sell it overseas (to the U.S. for a pretty good price.) But the farmers who were all men, took land that was being used by the women to grow food for their family. The men in the end had more money but more often then not, used the money for their own benefit (booze, prostitutes) and left the women and children with even less than what they had before the aid was given because they no longer had access to land to grow food for themselves.

The website says this:
"The Life You Can Save seeks to change...If everyone who can afford to contribute to reducing extreme poverty were to give a modest proportion of their income to effective organizations fighting extreme poverty, the problem could be solved. It wouldn’t take a huge sacrifice."

I think things have changed and people have gotten smarter about the way they give aid. There are some aid organizations that are very good.(microcredit is one of my favorites) But my own personal view is that world poverty is less about money and more about morality. Rich countries unwilling to live with less and dealing in a cut throat way with poorer countries. Fathers unwilling to commit to their families and do whatever it takes to provide for them. Tyrants who want it all. Corruption in government. People unwilling to forgive, sacrifice and compromise for the greater good. Greed, jealousy, pride and selfishness will always make a world with haves and have nots.
So the solution for me is so much more than just a sum of money. I think acts of giving and helping and trying to sacrifice for the greater good is pretty much the only remedy for this crazy little world we live in. And sometimes that means giving a little bit of your income away to a cause you really believe in.
There was something in the video which really touched me. "What if your daughter was the drop in the bucket? Real lives are saved every single day. People with real names whose families weep with joy to see them still alive."

I think sometimes thinking small is the best way forward - so right now I'm kind of wondering, what small things could I do to help one other person...


Mercedes said...

char one of the reasons i adore you is because you post stuff like this. no seriously.

i don't feel like we talk enough about how to deal with emotional poverty--but i am starting to think that resolving emotional poverty is the gateway to dealing with economic poverty.

if i keep going off about this you will have a 5 page maybe i'll just email you about it.

you are going one hell of a job char.

Char said...

I would love to read five pages of your thoughts on this topic! I can't wait to hear from you.