Some facts about poverty that we should realize in this crazy world

There are over one and a half billion people in India. One woman dies every five minutes during childbirth here. Of the 192 million families living in the country over 40 % of them live in one room houses, often accommodating extended families as well. Statistics from 2004 indicate that over 260 million people there are living well below the poverty line. Over a 1/3 of the world’s children living in poverty reside somewhere in India. There are over 10 000 babies EVERY DAY in this country that die from preventable illnesses related to poverty and malnourishment. Children are left on the side of the road or abandoned because families just cannot afford to feed them. Over a 1/4 of the world’s child labourers are here. Orphanages are filled beyond capacity and many children end up having to completely fend for themselves. More people in India must survive on less than $1 a day than in the entire sub-saharian Africa

Ethiopia has 77.2 million people living there. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 47% of the children in Ethiopia are underweight and malnourished.  AIDS and starvation have left millions of children to be dying orphans fending for themselves and believing that no one in the world cares about them…we haven’t done much to make them believe otherwise. How horrible it must be to feel so alone, hungry, sick and abandoned in life and yet the world ignores them. The drought in 2003 left over a fifth of the population without any food. It was the worst famine there since the mid 1980’s yet it did not get nearly the same coverage in the media. I remember well the media stories in the mid eighties. I was in my early teens and could not go to sleep without picturing the starving children in the news. I still have a post card that I received from a worker in Addis Ababa after taking all my babysitting money, putting it in an envelope with simply the words “Ethiopia starving children” on it and placing it in a mail box. I doubt that money did very much to help but I cherish the words that I have read several times in the past twenty five years from Nathanael.

He wrote “Hi Dear Miss;

I had been given your letter and I was so delighted to read it through. Cause charity begins at home I’m one of the Ethiopians who pray and raise funds for hungry people here.

“If I could I would give my life if it would make you healthy and happy” were your words which made me very happy than never before.

Thanks to God this day we do have rain and I hope this is an answer to your prayers Praise the Lord, May God Bless you! With Love Nathanael 9th of May 1985″”

It is amazing to me to see such faith and hope in the face of such poverty especially when there are so many people in the world that are in a position to help.

I have kept Nathanael and his countrymen in my prayers ever since….I however have done little to promote their plight…which I decided last year I would change. In the famine of 1985 over a million people died.  Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has warned that the situation in Ethiopia at the beginning of this century is even worse than that of the past. Only 18% of children reach grade five in the country that is stricken with drought beyond imagination. Over 10 % of children die before age five because of this horrific situation and yet our news agencies decide to cover the sex scandals and rehab issues of  Hollywood stars and sports figures rather than even mention the devastation that is faced each day in this and other countries.

We live on a continent where over 30% of the population is obese.  We walk away from plates full of food because we “can’t eat another bite”, have buffet restaurants and an abundance almost everywhere, yet we don’t seem to give a second thought to those who have nothing. Don’t get me wrong, we have many living below the poverty line right here at home and that number has increased with the latest recession but there is always something that we can do to help those who are literally and completely starving to death. Raise awareness, bring the issues to those who do have money, pray for them….something.

I know someone who actually developed an eating disorder because she felt guilty every time she ate knowing that so many million people in the world had nothing to eat for days at a time. She didn’t feel worthy to have food when others who had done nothing wrong didn’t. She has decided that maybe if she dedicates her life to trying to raise awareness for the starving around the world that she might be able to one day enjoy a meal herself. She hopes to someday go to Ethiopia and India and enjoy that meal with those she has helped. Knowing that they won’t be going hungry either.

If every person who has an abundance (in comparison to those in poverty…not those in Hollywood) gave up a few meals and donated the money from those meals to organisations that help starving children…we could solve the problem. If we stopped paying stars and sports figures and politicians and CEO’s big paychecks and bonuses we could make sure that no one in the world went hungry….but since that is not likely to happen maybe we could all just donate a few dollars a month…or even a year. Maybe we could remember them in our thoughts, conversations and prayers and at least send our good will their way. How can we say we are “HUMAN” and yet act so inhumanely.

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