I've added the UN World Food Programme's interactive Hunger Map to 3Click Resources on the sidebar.
Sit and look at it for a while. Sobering.
Here's a heads-up for you, from the Make Poverty History folks:
White Band Day 1
International White Band Day 1, when across the globe, in the South and in the North, millions of people will wear a white band as an act of solidarity against poverty and call for world leaders to do more to eradicate poverty.
That's plenty of warning for you. If you don't already have a band, get one. In fact, get 5, and give some away.
This is an adaptation of a story I heard Jim Wallis tell about a year ago. I believe at the time he said he had borrowed if from Martin Luther King, Jr.
Every morning in Washington, in Ottawa, in London, in every seat of political power for that matter, politicians stick their index finger in their mouths, then raise their hands.
They're checking to see which way the wind is blowing.
It's what they do; it's who they are. Our political leaders don't make a move without checking to see which way the wind is blowing on the issue at hand. We go to them with our passion - nothing short of the alleviation of global poverty - and in go the fingers and up go the hands. It's automatic; it's unconscious. It would be naive of us to think we could change that reality. It's not going to happen.
Instead, we need to change the wind.
This is where Make Poverty History comes in. Initially, I didn't understand what they meant when they said "We don't want your money. We want your voice." I caught a glimpse, just about a month ago, watching a blue glow spread through GM Place as thousands of us took out our cell phones and called Paul Martin. Now, as I recall this story, another piece falls into place, and the understanding grows.
Every email and phone call to a political leader, every passionate conversation with friends over coffee, every heart and mind focused on a distant Scottish city in July... these are all little breezes. Individually they are hardly noticeable. Combined, they are formidable.
Together, we are changing the wind.
One day I stood by the edge of a raging river. Barely audible over the roar of the water I heard a faint cry for help. Looking up, I saw someone in the water, rushing towards me. With just enough time to act, I grabbed a tree branch, leaned out over the water, and grabbed the person by the wrist as they went under. Another bystander happened along and and helped me pull the victim from the frigid water.
Just as we did, we heard a faint cry for help.
Someone else was bobbing through the rough water towards us. Working together, my new friend and I quickly pulled the hapless person from the torrent.
And as we did, we heard another cry for help.
This went on for hours. There were many of us now, pulling people from the water as fast as we could. Two or three times I could have sworn that we pulled the same person out more than once, but I may have been mistaken.
Here's the point. Pulling these people from the water was an act of mercy. It is critical work; it saves lives. However, it did not become a quest for justice until a number of us left our spot on the shore and went upstream to see who was throwing them in.
I'm growing increasingly impressed with what is going on in the UK, clearly the epicentre of the Make Poverty History movement. Glenn (my favorite Scotsman, next to my father) has pointed us to this great article from The Herald:
The new script: making poverty history
CAMERON SIMPSON May 27 2005
HE'S moved away from love, actually, and now the focus is on changing the world.
Richard Curtis, Britain's most successful screenwriter, last night took on the role of champion of Africa's poor when his new film, The Girl In The Cafe, had its world premiere at the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh.
A poignant, 90-minute tale, it is part of the Make Poverty History campaign which aims to convince politicians to cancel Third World debt, double the aid budget and rewrite global trade laws so that developing countries can protect their economies.
Curtis has previously written and/or directed some of Britain's most successful movies, such as Love Actually, Four Weddings And A Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones's Diary. More to our point, he is the creator of the Click concept (so I would think that makes him the patron saint of this blog).
I'll leave it to you to read the complete article at your leisure (there is additional information on The Girl in the Cafe in this BBC press release) but I'll leave you with a couple of poignant quotes.
First, this, which is reminiscent of our thoughts on The Present Future:
Mr Hunter, who has put £1m into Make Poverty History, said: "It is fantastic the world premiere has come to Scotland. G8 offers a unique moment in history to change the world for the better. "We can either make history by eradicating world poverty or be confined to it as the generation who had the chance to stop 30,000 innocents dying every day and didn't take it. "That's not something I want to explain to my children and I hope the G8 doesn't either."
And then this damning indictment:
Curtis added: "If 50,000 people died in London on Monday, in Rome on Tuesday, Munich on Wednesday, in New York on Thursday and in Paris on Friday, they would find the money and the solution to the problem as they walked from the lift to the breakfast bar, they just would."
It's true, they would. We would.
UPDATE: For our American friends (and satellite-wielding Canadians) Mac points out that The Girl in The Cafe is airing on HBO on June 25.
The Clinton Foundation will help India's National AIDS Control Organization train 150,000 doctors over the next year to treat HIV/AIDS patients in the country, former President Clinton said on Thursday in New Delhi, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Mahapatra, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/27). The program will provide Indian physicians with training in local HIV/AIDS epidemiology and virology; modes of HIV transmission, including mother-to-child, and disease progression; patient evaluation methods; case management; national antiretroviral drug guidelines; post-exposure prophylaxis; and treatment guidelines, according to a Clinton Foundation release. The U.K. Department for International Development will provide some of the funding and technical expertise for the initiative, according to the release (Clinton Foundation release, 5/26). Clinton said the lack of health care facilities and trained physicians in India is hindering HIV-positive people's access to treatment. The Clinton Foundation in September 2004 agreed to help NACO set up the Indian government's national antiretroviral treatment program in about 188 clinics and hospitals around the country, according to the Hindu.
"In India, where an estimated 80% of health care services are provided by private-sector hospitals and private physicians, it is imperative that they are given the tools needed to provide standardized, high-quality care and treatment to those who need it," Clinton said at a national HIV/AIDS conference organized by NACO, the Clinton Foundation and the India Business Trust for HIV/AIDS (Dhar, Hindu, 5/27). The foundation has pledged to help NACO train up to 700,000 doctors over the next few years, Xinhuanet reports. "We need these trained doctors so that we can quickly spread drugs to all the people," Clinton, who is on a two-day visit to India to speak about HIV prevention and relief efforts in response to the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, said (Xinhuanet, 5/26). "No one agency, public or private, can reach enough people," Susanna Moorehead, head of DFID in India, said, adding, "Private doctors are an important part of this partnership" (Clinton Foundation release, 5/26).
And while we're talking about India, The New York Times on Thursday examined efforts to treat HIV/AIDS patients in that country, "where stigma, poverty, an anemic public health system and the sheer scale of the pandemic combine in a daunting challenge." Although the country is a leader in exporting generic antiretroviral drugs, less than 2% of the estimated 500,000 HIV-positive Indians who need the drugs are receiving treatment at no cost, according to the Times (Sengupta, New York Times, 5/27).
In his brilliant book, The End of Poverty, economist Jeffrey Sachs speaks of different regions of the world trying to work their way "up the ladder", starting at extreme poverty. India is a classic example of a country that is no longer on the bottom rung. There are doctors to train. Meanwhile in Africa, the doctors are few and far between. This is a real-world example of two regions, dealing with the same crisis, but from different places on the ladder. It's one thing to read the theory in the book - it's another to see the reality in the newspaper and TV news.
(Data from Kaiser Network.org)
Just a quick follow-up to my earlier reference to my friends at Fraser Valley Christian High. While this may seem like shameless self-promotion on my part, I want to once again highlight this incredible school.
Here's a portion of their latest newsletter, dated today:
Don't Just Sit There, Click on Something
It is very easy to feel paralyzed in the face of global poverty. I would like to encourage students, teachers and parents to not just sit there, but do something simple. If you are online right now reading this, click on the following address: https://miketodd.typepad.com/3click/. It is encouraging to see the FVCHS logo and brief reflections on Mike Todds 3Click web site which he has dedicated to world poverty. Mike has been at our school a number of times challenging our students to an authentic lived-out faith.
When you get to the site, do some exploring of the links. It will give you some opportunities to learn something about the complexity of world poverty and things you do that can make a difference. The beginning of making a difference is having a change of heart. Sometimes that comes through reading, viewing images and contemplating a course of action.
A few weeks ago 10 of our students spent a day at a conference led by Craig and Marc Kielburger. I believe the central message they came away with was that they can make a difference and sometimes that difference is something small: a change in diet, writing a letter of protest or encouragement, committing to more consistent recycling or sponsoring a third world child. The year 2005 is an important year for the continent of Africa. Click on something to make a difference.
If you're visiting via the newsletter, welcome to 3Click. Take a look around, find some hope, and take action. And let me say if you have a loved one at Fraser Valley, they are in good hands.
Armed conflict, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, natural disasters and climate change are the leading causes of hunger worldwide, according to a report (.doc) released on Monday by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization during the 31st Session of the Committee on World Food Security in Rome, Reuters AlertNet reports (Reuters AlertNet, 5/23). The report, titled "Assessment of the World Food Security Situation," says that the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the number of hungry people in the world by 2015 -- established by the World Food Summit in 1996 -- is "almost certain to be missed by a wide margin if current trends persist," according to a FAO release. However, the report also finds that the target of reducing the proportion of people affected by extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 might be achieved in most regions except sub-Saharan Africa (FAO release, 5/23). "Peace encourages investments and allows social and economic development. Conflict destroys lives, opportunities and environments," the report says, adding, "It can destroy in hours and days what has taken years and decades to develop" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/23). The report also says that armed conflict "contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS through displacement, rape or commercial sex" (Reuters AlertNet, 5/23).
From Kaiser Network.org (Daily Report, 5/25)
Here's an excerpt from the report that caught my eye:
"FAO estimates that 852 million people worldwide were undernourished in 2000–2002: 815 million in developing countries, 28 million in the countries in transition and 9 million in the industrialized countries (see Table 1). South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have disproportionate share of the world’s hungry. The number of undernourished people in developing countries decreased by only 9 million during the decade following the World Food Summit baseline period of 1990–1992. During the second half of the decade, the number of chronically hungry in developing countries increased at a rate of almost 4 million per year, wiping out two thirds of the reduction of 27 million achieved during the previous five years."
Let's take stock, shall we? We've called Paul Martin so many times they've had to shut down the phone lines. We've also emailed Tony Blair to within an inch of his patience. A certain other world leader has been getting off easy in my book. No more! It's time to put the pressure on George.
First, from the Washington Post:
On the question of Africa right now, the Bush administration is up against Nelson Mandela, Tony Blair and the rock star-industrial complex, not to mention Sun Microsystems and Pat Robertson. It's one of those occasions when the sole pole in our (supposedly) unipolar world looks pretty much surrounded.
The sainted Mandela, who packs more moral authority than any man alive, visited President Bush last Tuesday to urge further efforts to help Africa. Blair's foreign minister was in town at the same time, reinforcing the same message. Mandela urged Bush to launch a new Africa initiative, perhaps around the time of the United Nations summit in September. For the Brits, the forcing event is July's Group of Eight summit, which Blair will host in Scotland.
Read the rest of the article High-Profile Help for Africa (registration may be required).
Our friends at One.org are kicking it up a notch too:
Together as ONE, we can let President Bush know Americans support the fight against global AIDS and poverty!
On June ONE, we will launch an unprecedented mobilization of Americans calling on President Bush to deliver a historic deal for the world's poor at the G8 Summit. If everyone who reads this e-mail encourages just 3 friends to join ONE, we will be well over ONE MILLION strong in time for the G8 Summit. That's ONE million voices united behind ONE message: Make Poverty History!
Make history this summer. Tell your friends that NOW is the time for action - ask them to join you for the largest-ever movement against global poverty in American history.
So spread the word, cause some grief, and do some good.
UPDATE: Here's a list of regional One.org events.