child poverty

This was a busy weekend!

Saturday was an Acting on AIDS Regional Conference hosted by Anderson University and conducted by World Vision. Sunday was a Rally for Darfur at the Indiana State House.

Acting on AIDS

Acting on AIDS is a program started by Christian college students to create awareness and activism of the global AIDS pandemic at colleges and universities across the nation. With the support of World Vision, Christian college students have formed a network of Acting on AIDS chapters which seek to change hearts on campuses, create awareness in communities, and advocate for those impacted by the global AIDS pandemic.

Steve Haas, VP of Church Relations at World Vision was the main speaker. He used a lot of Scripture to make his points. Some of the things that I found impactful are:

  • Women are 12x’s as likely as men to contract HIV/AIDS through HETEROSEXUAL activities.
  • Luke 4’s madate to evangelize by caring for the poor
  • We have Kingdom Assignments that include Justice and Peacemaking
  • We need to give more than a % of our $ but also a % of our time, heart, and mind!

They also showed this powerful video. Finally we ate a Broken-Bread meal. During the meal they invite you to Identify, Intercede, and Interact.
Identify by eating a corn-soy blend porridge which is the exact porridge used by WV and other relief organizations around the world during a crisis situation. Not the worst porridge, but not like a good oatmeal or grits. They also ask you to sit on the floor and remain silent during the meal. You are also given an “identity card” on which is a story about a child and their desperate situation.
Intercede by reflecting quietly and asking for God to intervene and to continue to raise up faithful people to help meet the needs of His people.
Interact by talking in small groups about the meal, your identity (child), and whatever else.

This was a powerful way to experience even a snippet of what is happening.

I would also encourage you to check out Bound4Freedom

Rally for Darfur

Check out these past posts for a reminder about the situation in Darfur:
April 5, 2007 March 30, 2007 January 23, 2007 January 11, 2007 December 19, 2006 December 15, 2006 December 7, 2006 November 28, 2006

Indiana currently has legislation pending for Divestment from Sudan.

Harkening back to the days of Apartheid South Africa, fiduciaries have explored the option of divesting from companies that either do business in Sudan or with the government of Sudan. Indeed, numerous states, cities, and universities have already divested while dozens of others are currently considering this option. Building on this momentum, the Sudan Divestment Task Force has developed a unique model of divestment that maximizes divestment’s impact on the government of Sudan while minimizing unintended harmful effects on innocent Sudanese citizens and on the health of institutional investments.

Organizations that helped sponsor Sunday’s Rally include:

Save Darfur
Citizens for Global Solutions
Sudan Divestment Taskforce (which is a project of the Genocide Intervention Network)
Darfur Peace & Development Organization
Campus Progress
Fidelity Out of Sudan

A few things that really struck me and please if nothing else take these actions:

  1. Visit the Save Darfur Coalition website and click through some of their simple action steps.
  2. Sign the Petition to Fidelity. They said today that if everyone in the US divested their money from Sudan (with surgical precision) almost $1 Billion could be taken away from the Sudanese Genocide Machine.
  3. Darfur, Rwanda, Kosovo, Khmer Rouge, Nazi Germany. These were all modern-day genocides and we said we’d never let it happen again after the Holocaust.

This is a most controversial issue, especially having grown up in the Midwest where farming is such a vital component of the economy and my dad works in agribusiness. But nonetheless it is an issue that we must examine deeply and come to an understanding of how our actions and policies effect the entire world.

This comes from an April 7, 2007 article in the New York Times headlined: Even as Africa Hungers, Policy Slows Delivery of U.S. Food Aid

Within weeks, those rations, provided by the United Nations World Food Program, are at risk of running out for them and 500,000 other paupers, including thousands of people wasted by AIDS who are being treated with American-financed drugs that make them hungrier as they grow healthy.

Hoping to forestall such a dire outcome, the World Food Program made an urgent appeal in February for cash donations so it could buy corn from Zambia’s own bountiful harvest, piled in towering stacks in the warehouses of the capital, Lusaka.

But the law in the United States requires that virtually all its donated food be grown in America and shipped at great expense across oceans, mostly on vessels that fly American flags and employ American crews — a process that typically takes four to six months.

But during bumper harvests, the World Food Program has become a major buyer of Zambian-grown corn. One of its biggest suppliers is Zambia’s Food Reserve Agency, which buys from farmers’ cooperatives and unions as a way of helping small-scale farmers gain access to markets. Since 2001, it has bought more than $1 billion worth of food in some of the poorest countries on earth.

For farmers like Catherine Hangama, 36, that money makes all the difference. She works a small plot with her husband in the village of Nakandyoli in the Mumbwa district. For the first time last year, they sold a small surplus of corn — six 50-kilogram bags — for $53 to the Zambian government’s Food Reserve Agency, one of the World Food Program’s biggest suppliers here.

Over the past three years, the same four companies and their subsidiaries — Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Bunge and the Cal Western Packaging Corporation — have sold the American government more than half the $2.2. billion in food for Food for Peace, the largest food aid program, and two smaller programs, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Shipping companies were paid $1.3 billion over the same period to move the food aid overseas, the department’s figures show.

Nonprofit groups received over $500 million in donated American food, which they sold at market rates in developing countries to raise money for antipoverty programs, according to the international development agency, and a recent study by Emmy Simmons, a retired agency official.

Agribusiness and shipping groups vigorously oppose the Bush administration proposal to buy food in developing countries with cash, which they argue is more likely to be stolen. They say that American food is safer and of higher quality and that the government can speed delivery by storing it in warehouses around the world.

So the issues are food is available cheaper and more rapidly in African countries and purchasing food in Africa would provide money to local farmers, so that they can have a chance at making a livable income and escape poverty. At the same time the local farmer is able to afford food, water, and education for their children a person in a neighboring country is able to live another day with a full stomach and not starve to death, literally.

US Agribusiness is opposed to this because they would lose $2.2 billion worth of guaranteed revenues from the federal government. Oh yea don’t forget about the shipping industries $1.3 billion. So while American businesses continue to reap profit, poor Africans continue to die needlessly and African food products continue to go to waste. I seem to recall there is some concern that ethanol production and demand for corn will increase the prices of crops, adversaly affecting our prices at the grocery store. One way to alleviate some of that suffering would be to let African get African food!

On top of everthing else, more people can be fed per dollar if food is purchased locally, transportation costs are exponentially lower and availabilty is immediate, in comparison.

So here are some closing statistics from Global Issues.

The amount spent annually in Europe alone on cigarettes ($50 billion) could be used to fund Basic Education, Water and Sanitation, Basic Health and Nutrition for everyone, and Reproductive Health for women. (Total $40 billion)

The amount spent of pet food annually in Europe and the US ($17 billion) could be used to provide Basic Health and Nutrition for everyone! ($13 billion).


I received an e-mail today that pointed out that the US ranks 18th on the UNICEF’s Annual Report Card related to Child Poverty. 18th out of 192 UN countries places us in the top 10% which isn’t tooooo bad I suppose. But here is a list of the countries above us and their average rank out of 6 indicators:

Netherlands 4.2
Sweden 5.0
Denmark 7.2
Finland 7.5
Spain 8.0
Switzerland 8.3
Norway 8.7
Italy 10.0
Ireland 10.2
Belgium 10.7
Germany 11.2
Canada 11.8
Greece 11.8
Poland 12.3
Czech Republic 12.5
France 13.0
Portugal 13.7
Austria 13.8
Hungary 14.5
United States 18.0
United Kingdom 18.2

Not everyone can be #1, but look at some of the countries ahead of US, like the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria…

You can access the full report here.

The e-mail also included information about Cost Effective Investments in Children, from the Brookings Institute.

Quoted from the website:

America’s future economic well-being will benefit from targeted investments to ensure that children have the skills to become tomorrow’s adult workers, caregivers, taxpayers, and citizens. Target areas for a package of proposals totaling about $25 billion annually and $133 billion over a five-year period are the following:

  • High-quality early childhood education programs for three- and four-year-old children ($94 billion over five years);
  • Nurse home-visiting programs to promote sound prenatal care and the healthy development of infants and toddlers ($14 billion over five years);
  • School reform with an emphasis on programs in high-poverty elementary schools that improve the acquisition of basic skills for all students ($17 billion over five years); and
  • Programs that reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy ($8 billion over five years).

If you look back at my post about the Costs of Childhood Poverty post on Feb 4, you’ll see the cost of doing nothing is approximately $500 billion annually.

Think about that for a second… invest $25 billion or lose $500 billion… I’m not a financial guru, but that seems pretty easy math to me!

« Previous Page