Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Blog Action Day - Poverty

Time to get serious for a day.....

I find it quite difficult to write about poverty. It's such a relative term. It can mean anything from not being able to afford your '5 A Day' or pay your fuel bill to not even having a few grains of rice to feed your kids.

Over the last decade or so the western world seems to have hijacked the term, and to my mind, somewhat demeaned it.

I hear the word 'poverty' more times a day than I can count and going by the context in which it's used - I have spent much of my adult life in it!

There has been many a winter that I've stuck on another few jumpers and wrapped up under a quilt on the settee with my kids just to keep warm because I couldn't afford to put the heating on. There've been quite a few times where nothing but a jam sandwich has been the daily meal. Hand-me-downs have been a constant in my kids wardrobe and they've gone more than one christmas with just a colouring book and a few crayons under the tree.

But that's not real poverty. Or is it?

If poverty is not having the standard of living that is enjoyed by your countrymen...then yes. It is. Or is poverty being devoid of everything that makes life bearable...cos then - no. It's not.

Poverty is more than just not having much....

Poverty is being stuck. It's a place that you can't get away from. It's a world ridden with disease, starvation and lonliness. It's a cycle that's fuelled by high mortality and lack of education. A place where you not only feel helpless - but where you actually are.

And that's why I don't live in poverty - because in the end, I'm not helpless.

I got out of poverty. Because I could.

But there are still those that can't. Those who can't help themselves. There are places where the very infrastructure won't allow you to be something more, and that's where we come in.

It's not about how many pennies you can pop into the charity box - we've all got fewer of those these days.

It's about keeping the word 'poverty' for those who deserve it. It's about keeping up the pressure on the governments and the organisations of the world that are in a position to help. It's about spreading healthcare. It's about education. It's about knowing that it's unacceptable for any human being to live this way in the 21st century.

We're a cynical world, full of doubts that our money is doing any good. Watching governments, oil industries and drug companies sapping the nations that need it most of their natural wealth. So let's do something about it.

It shouldn't be up to rockstars to 'Make Poverty History' and it shouldn't be up to us.......but unless we make a noise about it - nothing's going to change and sooner or later - we'll forget about it as the troubles of our own lives take their toll.

So while we can -while we're not yet too damn tired to have one more rage against the machine - just do something. Write an email to your Prime Minister/ President - work with a local school to get books out to kids who haven't got any. Find out what your local Red Cross can do to help......or - if you can - buy a kid a laptop.

One Laptop Per Child Project

Make Poverty History

I know we're tired of having to do something to change things - but just one more click on either of the links above - or one more letter to a world leader can be the one that makes the difference.

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