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For my final post on poverty, at least for this class, I decided I would try and sum up a lot of what has been said and learned over the past three weeks. I have realized more then anything else that I am so lucky to live the life that I do and to live in the country that I live in. I was blessed into a good family, in a good country, and I have so much more then I could ever imagine. I never truly struggle with having food to eat or a pillow to lay my head on. That has never been an issue. However, far too often I have allowed it to remain just that way. That to acknowledge the world around me that is hurting, that is hungry, that is cold, to acknowledge that would be to acknowledge the many ways in which I choose to be consumed with myself. I think that when we truly begin to see the pain and hurt in the world around us, it becomes harder and harder to sit by and do nothing. Writing this blog has challenged me to try and see beyond myself. And not just that. It has also made me realize that there really has to be something greater out there. Because if this is all we have it really is pretty awful. I whole heartedly believe in a God who has a plan of redemption. And in the midst of seeing hurt and pain and death, I must believe in the redemption that He brings. Because if there is no redemption and if there is no healing at a later day, then what would be the point of living? Many of these people have never known the world that we live in so they do not know what they are missing. But they do know the feeling of hunger so great you will likely die, and diseases so severe you cannot move. They know what that is and yet they choose to go on living and fighting for all this life has to give them. Whatever little they have. So much of me wants to sit down and ask why. But until I have that opportunity I will continue to do what I can and fight in the areas in which I can fight.

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Sara McLaughlin

I know, you’re probably thinking, “What in the world does Sara McLaughlin have to do with poverty?” While she may not be the first person you think of that is pioneering for these heart troubling issues that are running rampant through our society, she is making a fight. She created a music video to a song called “World on Fire,” and instead of making this music video top notch and spending close to $150,000 on it, she instead chose to give that money to other places. If you go to her website which I’ve put below you will see exactly where the money went. It is amazing that with the sacrifices of a single music video, she was able to touch close to a million lives, if not more. This is something that I must say so few of us do. For example, instead of spending $3,500 on a production supervisor she instead used the money instead to provide schooling and support for 70 children of war in Sierra Leone, and that was just the production supervisor. This video really challenged me to think beyond my life. What is it that I could sacrifice in order that someone else may live? How much of the way I live is truly unnecessary and instead could put food into the belly of a starving child?

There is another video that I have embedded below this commentary. I debated for awhile as to whether or not to actually post it. But the truth is that it is a video that breaks my heart because it brings poverty into reality. And not just for me. I think you would be hard pressed to not watch it and feel as though the world is not right. I know that the main countries shown here were not our own and therefore we too often feel as though we do not have to care. But I honestly don’t believe that is true. The question is always then, how do we help? What can we do? The World Vision link below is a great resources for ways in which anyone can help start to make a difference in our starving world.

The World Vision Link: http://www.worldvision.org/

Global Issues

Global Issues is a blog that is focused and dedicated on researching and providing articles and information on social, political, economical and environmental issues that really affect everyone. There are also several links to the issues involved on this website. It is one mans voice at wanting to change the world.

One of the articles I found myself particularly drawn to was one about poverty and children. It talked about how in one day over 26,500 children die, in particular due to poverty related issues, such as illness, preventable diseases and other related causes. The following are some statistics that he put on his website:

Around the world, some 26,500 children die every day.
That is equivalent to:
* 1 child dying every 3 seconds
* 18 children dying every minute
* A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring every week
* An Iraq-scale death toll every 15–36 days
* Almost 10 million children dying every year
* Some 60 million children dying between 2000 and 2006

When brought into perspective like this you begin to grasp exactly what this term poverty means and looks like. Too often we hear so many facts and statistics that we go numb. We forget what it feels like to hurt for these people and to care for those we don’t know but who are merely numbers to us. The only way to make an impact on poverty is to stop viewing people as data and to start viewing them as living and breathing souls.

Another post he did was one called “Causes of Poverty.” This post focused on so much of the facts and statistics behind poverty. I felt as though it certainly brought some insight into how much we tend to overlook the issues that are right in front of our face. One of the things that I found particularly and hadn’t necessarily considered was that poverty, especially the poverty that we think of truly is the state of the majority of the world. There is not a single country that doesn’t struggle with it, and there are many more in which the only state is poverty.

Below is the link to this blog. I highly recommend it to read.

http://www.globalissues.org/

Under the Overpass

An important person in the fight against homeless is a man named Mike Yankoski. Him and his friend Sam right out of college decided that they wanted to know what it was like to be homeless. However, it was not enough for them to simply go serve at a homeless shelter or sleep on the streets for a night, they wanted to honestly know what it felt like in all aspects to be homeless. So for five months they chose to be homeless, taking what very little they had and living off of what they could panhandle from people. Therefore they were forced to live entirely off the kindness of strangers.

So for five months they traveled to several major United States cities to see who people would respond to the homeless. They ate meals from garbage cans and whatever else they could find to simply live. One of the key stories that captivated my heart was Mike talking about how they were sitting outside passing the time and some boy scouts came by asking for money. Mike and Sam had no money on them at the time and so they chose to just make conversation with the boys. After a little while one of the young eight year old boys asked if they actually had any money. When they responded that they didn’t, that same eight year old boy gave him $1.47, the only money he had in his pocket. It seemed precious to me that a little boy with barely a dollar to his name would be willing to give that up for some man he had never met.

The whole purpose of Mike’s book was to find himself and his faith in the midst of having all of the comforts of his world taken away. Through this he discovered that so much more has to be done to help the homeless. The main organization he now promotes is the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM). This was formerly the International Union of Gospel Missions. It “is an association of over 300 rescue missions and other ministries that help the needy. Member organizations provide more than 33 million meals and 12 million nights lodging to homeless and poor people in the inner cities of the United States, Canada, and overseas each year. Since 1913, AGRM member ministries have offered emergency food and shelter, youth and family services, prison and jail outreach, rehabilitation, and specialized programs for the mentally ill, the elderly, the urban poor and street youth. ”

Quote taken from:
Under the Overpass

Why Homeless

The article “Primary Reasons for Homelessness,” talks about several of the causes of homelessness. One of the primary reasons they list is the lack of affordable housing. While the government initially started out enacting a minimum wage so that people would be able to afford housing, over the years this didn’t seem to be the case. Prices continued to rise and while the minimum wage also rose, it did not rise at the same level. There are now people who are working full-time at minimum wage and aren’t able to live in affordable housing.

Another major reason for homelessness is mental illness. This is one thing that is often not mentioned in many articles. While the media will show many veterans as being homeless, they rarely mention the fact that they are often struggling with mental illness. Many soldiers who have come back from fighting have a severe form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Those who suffer from PTSD often have an even harder time getting through some struggles because they are things that they will struggle through for a very long time. This makes it incredibly hard for them to maintain a job and therefore to keep any kind of housing.

What many people don’t realize is that when you are homeless you often struggle with things that at one point would have seemed incredibly simple. Suddenly going to the bathroom becomes a very difficult thing. Showering is another thing that is so much harder then we could possibly imagine. This is just another reason why homelessness is hard to get out of. When you are unable to really shower or be able to prepare yourself for a job it makes it especially difficult to get a job interview let alone maintain a job long enough that you save enough to be able to get affordable housing.

The article is at the following link:
Primary Reasons for Homelessness

Shackin’ Up

The above video is an excellent demonstration of how Habitat for Humanity utilizes the communities around them to help in rebuilding communities. It was a video made at the Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter at NC State. Essentially the campus chapter organized an event in which students from several different campus organizations would come and “camp” on their main walkway in several shacks. Then those students went through everything that anyone living in that condition would have to go through in order to gain money from the other students strolling by. All of this was done in an effort to not only raise awareness about the truth of poverty but to help raise money to help conquer it as well. In the one week they were doing this the students raised over $25,000 for Habitat for Humanity.

Events like this prove to be incredibly beneficial to everyone. One of the greatest things about something like this is the fact that it raises awareness. In the reality of how our world operates there is so much going on that often times we are not aware of how different things are then in our own lives. This can hold especially when you live in a separated world like Pullman. A person becomes entirely separated from the hurts of the world and therefore if you were to have a Shack-A-Thon people may be reminded of the reality that housing is truly a privilege for so many. One of the major things mentioned was that Habitat for Humanity is attempting to break the poverty cycle, not just appease it temporarily. In this particular instance students were able to feel as though they were able to fight for something that was bigger then themselves, something that I think we all too often forget to do. One of the students who helped with this event gave the following quote, “”It’s the greatest feeling in the world when you know you have helped provide a child with his own bedroom when that child has never known anything but a shared bed with his grandmother.”

Habitat for Humanity

Picture taken from Habitat for Humanity website.

Picture taken from Habitat for Humanity website.

Habitat for Humanity is an incredibly great organization that is continually trying to make an impact in society. They operate primarily according to volunteers who give their time to help rebuild homes and in so doing, help to rebuild lives. According to their website they seek “to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.” A statistic from their website says that they have built over 300,000 homes which have provided housing and shelter for over 1.5 million people; this is definitely a significant impact on society.
A recent link on their website is for their “Global village program.” This is an amazing opportunity for the volunteers to work side by side with another culture to help them in building homes. Part of the goal of this is “raising awareness of the burden of poverty housing and building decent, affordable housing worldwide.” I find this to be very important because in order to see exactly how wealthy we are sometimes we must realize that there are places much less fortunate outside of ourselves. Although housing is still a very large issue here in the United State, this is just one example of the effect they are having worldwide.
Another part of their website they have is their “Disaster Response” segment. This is a part of the organization that helps specifically with dealing with whatever disasters arise due to war, civil unrest and the environment. Once again this is often times very much unexpected things that need response anyway. Through this they have tried to serve in the most recent disasters as the Myanmar cyclone, the earthquake in China and Hurricane Ike that devastated much of Texas and other areas in the South. They are constantly working to help and put families back where they need to be because they see how important the need for housing is. Disaster relief is another huge aspect of the housing development.
While they work worldwide to help with a number of wonderful causes, they also do plenty of work here in the US. The biggest work they have been doing in recent years is responding to the massive amounts of destruction that hurricanes and tornadoes as have left in their wake, as well as the massive amounts of flooding they have in the Midwest. As you can see Habitat for Humanity is just one organization that is slowly but surely having a great impact on society.