Archive for the ‘poverty’ Tag

Quote of the Day: In Honor of MLK and the National Day of Service

I thought that this quote was particularly important to consider on this day of service. Action is and will be crucial going forward to make the world a better place for everyone. I believe that the great danger of our time is not a hot button issue such as global warming, global health or the economic crisis. The real enemy is indifference. I hope that today’s day of service becomes a wake up call that prompts people to be engaged and get involved.

“The global economy is giving more of our own people and billions around the world the chance to work and live and raise their families with dignity… But the forces of integration that have created these good opportunities also make us more subject to global forces of destruction — to terrorism, organized crime and narco trafficking, the spread of deadly weapons and disease, the degradation of the global environment. The expansion of trade hasn’t fully closed the gap between those of us who live on the cutting edge of the global economy and the billions around the world who live on the knife’s edge of survival. This global gap requires more than compassion; it requires action. Global poverty is a powder keg that could be ignited by our indifference.”

— President Bill Clinton’s Farewell Speech

In My Name: End Poverty

I saw this cool video on @zakblogs‘s blog Schizofrenetic. If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, you should; it’s one of my favorite Brazen Careerist reads.

In My Name is the newest campaign led by YouTube dedicated to motivating people to do their part in helping to end poverty. You can upload your video to the In My Name channel asking the government to do its part to end poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Blog Action Day 2008 – Poverty

My experiences this past year were as much about learning about challenges in global health as realizing how poverty compounds and exacerbates global health issues. The most important lesson I have learned is that nothing occurs in isolation. It will take a lot more than money to help eliminate poverty; focusing exclusively on economic development ignores many of the issues such as global health that contribute to the entrenched nature of poverty in communities worldwide. Participating in Blog Action Day seems an appropriate bookend to a year of volunteering abroad as an opportunity for your involvement.

Reading Paul Farmer’s Pathologies of Power really opened my eyes to the need to approach global health from the perspective of the poorest of the poor, reinforcing what I saw in my daily experiences. It’s hard to talk about reproductive rights when women do not have access to their own sources of income to assert those rights. It is hard to reduce childhood mortality due to preventable diseases such as malaria and waterborne diseases when families can not pay for access to clean water and bednets. When a mother can not afford to buy milk, encouraging adherence to HIV treatment seems like a pointless task.

Huge global problems such as global poverty remain invisible to many and seem daunting to those aware of the tremendous human impact. There is no quick fix to the problem of global poverty, but you can and should act now. It’s never too late to start and there is always something that you can do. The most important thing is to do something positive; inaction is truly the worst action to take. So speak up, stand up, show up, pay up…whatever it is that will contribute to the end of poverty.

– Learn more about global poverty issues from the ONE Campaign.

– Donate to the Blog Action Day-supported organizations: The Global Fund (via change.org) and Kiva.

– Look around in your community for volunteering opportunities to fight poverty. Idealist.org and Volunteer Match are good resources to begin your search.

– Use the web to connect to organizations abroad to offer your experience and time. NABUUR and UN Online Volunteering offer good starting points.

Listening is essential; so is speaking

I call my grandmother every week and talk about how things are going. Yesterday, we were talking about el crisis de julio. I told her about the meeting that I went to with a group of patients to meet with the authorities from the department of health. The meeting was supposed to be an opportunity for the authorities to explain to the patients rationally why they wanted to pursue the chosen course of action. One official in particular continually lied about the clinic and the staff that worked there. His comments had crossed the line of simple political posturing, so I called them what they were to his face: lies.

My grandmother told me that it’s best to be diplomatic in situations like the one I found myself in.  I told her that diplomacy is great but sometimes you need to point out that the emperor has no clothes on. No amount of euphemisms does anyone good. For a current example, look at how mainstream media is struggling to deal with the blatant and continued lies of the McCain/Palin campaign.

Any article or author that addresses social media almost certainly emphasizes the importance of listening, which is a really critical skill for taking advantage of the power of social media. There are countless tools to use to stay involved in conversations that concern your personal and organizational interests.

There does come a point where you should speak up. The circumstances may create that perfect storm of awareness, dedication, and resources that enable major changes. It may be a question of addressing injustice or moving the general public from complacency to action. You could put a spotlight on global poverty as an election year issue or highlight the human impact of living on one dollar a day. Knowing when and how to make yourself heard is a critical skill for moving from ideas to action.

Human trafficking in Argentina and the world

I love living in Argentina; perhaps even more so because my time is coming to an end. Who wouldn’t love a living in a beautiful country with warm people who enjoy lively conversations over meals of steak and red wine? I do have to point out that I have no love for the way that some of the people exoticize and even demean me sometimes as they assume that that outward ethnic appearance means that I am a prostitute.

A fellow BC blogger wanted to know if the experience would prompt me to write about racism in Latin America. While racism may be partly to blame, I think that people associate my racial appearance with the rampant human trafficking that brings thousands of Dominicans, Brazilians and people of other nationalities, often to work as prostitutes. Unfortunately for many here, being of African descent and female is associated with prostitution and sexual slavery.

Argentina does not have specific laws addressing human trafficking. While the human trafficking circles do treat Argentina as a destination, there are also trafficking rings that move people within the country, totaling an estimated 2.4 million people traded for labor and sexual exploitation. Women and girls from economically depressed regions are either kidnapped or enticed by too-good-to-be-true job offers. Awareness has been elevated to a popular culture level. One of the most popular evening telenovelas here, Vidas Robadas, centers on internal human trafficking in Argentina.

The dedicated passion of activists such as Susana Trimarco de Veron have helped to bring the issue front and center on Argentina’s national agenda. A campaign called “No to Human Trafficking, No to Modern-day Slavery” started last year recruited Uruguayan singer and actress Natalie Oreiro to be an advocate for raising awareness and sparking further action to end human trafficking in Argentina.

Thanks to Social Butterfly, I learned about a documentary that premiered late this summer called Call+Response that attempted to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and abolitionist efforts. Knowing that lack of economic opportunities leaves already vulnerable members of society subject to people that prey on them, poverty reduction is sure to be a key goal for eliminate human trafficking and sexual slavery. Women will have other options to earn incomes to support their families rather than relying on promises to take them away from a life of poverty.

Here are some organizations that I found via change.org that work to end human trafficking:

Equality Now
Polaris Project
Barnaba Institute
The SAGE Project