Monday, November 07, 2005

Caring for the Poor and Fighting Poverty

I'm ashamed I haven't given to the Pakistani earthquake relief effort yet. I could use the excuse that I was recently layed off from my job, but that doesn't cut it. They estimate 2.5 million people are homeless out in the open cold weather as winter approaches. The least I could do is give a few bucks out of my savings or forego a few meals and donate the saved cost. Caring for the poor often takes sacrifice.

Relief efforts are usually what people focus on when they think of helping the poor. More importantly is the long-term work of development that helps people overcome poverty and could make an earthquake such as Pakistan less devestating. This ongoing fighting poverty can be in the form of a variety of self-help programs such as the provison of microenterprise loans that enable the enterprising poor to run succesful businesses or agricultural inputs to improve food production.

Pedro Alonso, a Spaniard working in Mozambique, is a malaria fighter (Time, 11/7, page 88). He is working on a malaria vaccine for children with the help of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, which was started by the Gates Foundation (Malaria is a bigger killer than AIDS in Africa and efforts to fight it are often overlooked). Yours and mine two cents or occaissional $100 bucks to fight poverty all helps the cause but don't ignore the great contributions of affluent philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates. People fault the rich for being rich but when they let their hearts guide them rather than greed they can do enormous good. While working at World Vision as a grant writer I saw both indivdual philanthropists and corporations give millions of dollars. Capitalism mixed with compassion cares for the poor and fights to overcome poverty.


Thane said...

In addition to giving funds... we can also give time. Time is more precious to us than any bank account. Taking time out of our busy day, if even for a hour in a local soup kitchen, is another way we can contribute to mankind. Volunteering to man a phone bank, offering your services as a chauffeur for relief workers to get to the airport, teaching a CPR class, or starting a local campaign to gather medical supplies, food, clothing or money for the Red Cross or other groups... there are so many ways we can contribute physically.

Michael said...


Absolutely. Giving time, in many ways, is superior to giving money. It's so easy to write a check but not always easy to volunteer real time. The human, personal touch can speak volumes more than a donation.