I wrote this essay for English and it was a reminder to me of how blessed we are. It was extremely eye opening and helped to make me even more thankful. If you’re the emotional type like me then you read it you might get teary eyed or at least feel pretty sad reading some of this but you’ll be more grateful after words.
What is poverty?
Poverty is not having clean water to drink. Poverty is wondering where your next meal will come from or if you’ll even get one. Poverty is being sick with malaria or some other sickness and not getting over it because there is no medical care available. Poverty is huddling under a roof on a street corner while the snow pours down and your nearly freeze to death because you have no other place to go. Poverty is not having a place to call home unless you name the street you spend most of your time on ‘home‘. Poverty is watching someone waste away from malnutrition and wondering if you’ll be next. Poverty is not having excess to school and never knowing how to read. Poverty is a lack of representation, freedom and hope for a bright future on this earth.
But for the majority of us incredibly blessed Americans, we may think of “being poor” or at least some what poor as not having a new car, living in a big house- big compared to our neighbors, that is- or not being able to afford whatever we want.
What we don’t know is that we aren’t poor, in a relative sense, even if we don’t have much compared to those around us. Nearly half of the world’s population- that’s over three billion people-live on less than two dollars and fifty cents a day. Eighty percent of the world lives on less than ten dollars a day.
If you have excess to clean water you have more then 1 in every 8th person in the world. Eighty hundred and eighty-four million people in the world lack access to safe water supplies, and three million people die each year from an unclean water-related disease. The water and sanitation crisis around the world claims more lives then any war has ever claimed with guns. An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than an average person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day. Just five minutes! And that’s all they have in a whole day. Every 20 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease. One billion people in the world lack excess to clean water. Think about that. If we’re on of the five billion that does we’re absolutely spoiled.
If you’ve never gone to bed hungry at night because there was no food available you are blessed beyond measure to have never experienced this. One billion people across the globe go to bed hungry at night. One billion! Six million children die each year of starvation and fifty-eight percent of the people that die in the world each year die due to starvation and malnutrition. Six million children die each year of starvation which is seventeen thousand a day and one every five seconds. The world health organization believes that malnutrition is the greatest threat to public health.
Here in America when you have a sickness going to the doctor is generally an option for curing it. There isn’t doctors everywhere though. Health care is widely unavailable to the poor. The loss of health care workers emigrating from impoverished countries has a damaging effect. For instance, an estimated 100,000 Philippine nurses emigrated to the United States between 1994 and 2006. There are a greater number of Ethiopian doctors in Chicago than in Ethiopia. Every year nearly ten million children under age five die, the majority from preventable and treatable diseases. Nearly twenty-seven children die every day, a result of diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea and complications during childbirth. Malnutrition is an underlying contributor in over half of these deaths Similarly, four million newborns die in the first four weeks of life which accounts for forty percent of under five deaths. Ninety eight percent of under five deaths occur across only forty-two developing countries. Poor health and education greatly affect a nations poverty status.
Each one of us has had the opportunity to get a good education. We can all read and write and learning these things has been an assumed thing for every one of us. It’s not that way everywhere though. One hundred and twenty-one million children don’t have the slightest measure of an education. Nearly a billion people entered the twenty-first century unable to read a book or even sign their name. Based on enrollment data, about seventy-two million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; fifty-seven percent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimistic numbers.
And for those in poor countries fortunate enough to get the opportunity to learn these basic skills, poverty dramatically their success in school. Additionally, poor children are much more likely to suffer from hunger, fatigue, irritability, headaches, ear infections, flu, and colds. These illnesses could certainly restrict a student’s focus and concentration.
Most likely we, along with everyone we know, has a decent roof over our heads. One hundred million people are accounted for as homeless. ‘Homeless‘ is considered as living on the streets. This doesn’t account for the billions whose ‘homes’ would seem like shacks to us. One in every three children live without adequate shelter with slum dwellers making up a third of the world’s urban population.
People are trying to helping though. Poverty reduction, historically, has been because of economic growth and development. China and India have had notable reductions of poverty in more recent times primarily because many of the Chinese have left off collective farming and India’s government red tape has been cut to some extent. Poorer countries, such as China, have a hard time when there products get to wealthier nations ports because of high tariff. Chinese textile and clothing exports have received criticism from Europe and the United States.
Aid is a provision of money for poor citizens to help them survive and a form of social security that provides citizens with money. Pilot projects in Namibia, a country in South Africa, provided thirteen dollars a month, a very sparse amount, but residents were then able to pay tuition fees, which raised the proportion of children going to school by ninety percent. Also, Child malnutrition rates fell from forty-two percent to ten percent.
Proven, cost-effective, interventions can spare the lives of millions of children each year. Immunization interventions still haven’t reached thirty million children, despite success in immunizations bringing down the number of people effected by polio, tetanus, and measles. Measles and tetanus still kill more than one million children under five each year. Vitamin A supplementation costs only two cents per capsule and given two to three times a year will prevent blindness and death. Although vitamin A supplementation saved an estimated 2.3 million lives between 1999 and 2004, only half of young children in poor countries receive these treatments. Around one third of a million children become blind every year, with seventy percent of them dying within twelve months. Oral Rehydration Therapy has helped to reduce diarrhea deaths by fifty percent, saving an estimated one million lives yearly; yet more than two million children still die from diarrhea-related causes each year. Ninety percent of children in very poor countries suffer from inner worms, but deworming greatly reduces anemia, illnesses, and malnutrition.
Although some are saying that “if ‘such and such’ amount of money is donated we’ll be able to dramatically reduce or eliminate global poverty” I know that we’ll always have the poor with us. We’ll never have a perfect earth. Those of us that are so extraordinarily blessed can be reminded to be more grateful for the exceeding abundance of undeserved blessings that have been showered upon us.
Information for this paper was taken from www.wikipedia.org and www.water.org.
Mark 14:7a “For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good…”