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Poverty Affects Different Age GroupsExtreme poverty affects people all over the world in many different ways. Some countries experience endemic poverty where it is incredibly hard for their citizens to overcome their circumstances and break the cycle of poverty. On the other hand, some countries have been able to reduce their poverty rates due to economic growth, development and investment. However, regardless of these differences, many countries align on how extreme poverty affects different age groups.

Poverty’s Effect on Children and Teens

Firstly, adolescents are one of the most vulnerable age groups to be affected by extreme poverty. UNICEF reveals that 148 million children under the age of five are underweight; 101 million children are not enrolled in schooling, and almost nine million children under five years old die each year. These statistics are incredibly revealing especially when paired with the fact that malnutrition, lack of clean water and proper sanitation, diarrhea and pneumonia are the main causes of death among children.

Secondly, teenagers and young adults also experience difficulties in overcoming extreme poverty. For instance, lack of education and proper schooling is a major issue for many countries around the world. These young adults that are not in school may become subject to child labor or even become child soldiers in many countries. According to the UN Secretary General’s Global Initiative on Education, “Basic literacy and numeracy skills could lift 171 million people out of poverty, resulting in a 12% cut in global poverty.” This information elucidates the essential role primary education plays in breaking the cycle of poverty that many youths face in low-income countries.

One way to ensure adequate school enrollment is by supplying meals for children and teens. The World Food Programme explains how providing daily meals to children in school creates an incentive to send children to school. Not only do these meals increase attendance and decrease dropout rates, but they also improve children’s academic aptitude. Consequently, children acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to secure future jobs and escape extreme poverty.

Poverty’s Effect on Adults

Lastly, extreme poverty affects different age groups, the detrimental effects of which are also seen in adults. The main impact is the significantly lower life expectancy seen in lower-income countries. Life expectancy is “20-24 years lower in poor nations” for both men and women than it is in developed countries. Additionally, poor countries tend to have a higher maternal mortality rate for a variety of reasons ranging from improper and lack of healthcare and poor nutrition during pregnancy.

Although the way extreme poverty affects different age groups may seem separate and diverging, teenagers and adults face many similar hardships. For instance, illiteracy is a huge barrier to obtaining and maintaining a job. The World Literacy Foundation (WLF) explains that without basic literacy skills, tasks such as composing emails, reading daily memos, checking a bank account and even applying for a job in the first place become difficult. These examples do not even include the requirements of many white-collar jobs, such as interpreting data and spreadsheets or reading documents.

As a result, many citizens of developing countries cannot receive comparable income to those in developed countries. This leaves these poor citizens open to food scarcity and extreme poverty (working for less than $1.90 a day). These issues are especially taxing for adults with families and more than one mouth to feed.

Additionally, while children are more likely to die from malnutrition and lack of sanitation, many adults face similar realities. Poor nutrition can weaken one’s immune system, muscles, bones and sleep cycles which all contribute to the body’s healthy daily functions. If these body systems are not well-maintained, adults can struggle and even die from preventable diseases and health complications.

Organizations Working to Help

There are many organizations worldwide working to lift children out of poverty, such as the WLF, UNICEF and International Child Care (ICC). The former two work to improve education for young children, while the latter strives to improve health for children and their families. There are also numerous organizations that help young adults and adults, including End Poverty Now, Oxfam International and Global Citizen. These groups mainly work to tackle the systemic cycle of poverty by improving healthcare and income equality.

Poverty affects different age groups pervasively and it is difficult to alleviate. Impoverished people of all ages experience conditions and hardships that many developed nations do not face. To enact and obtain real economic and social change, it is essential to understand how extreme poverty affects different age groups. Then, governments, organizations, businesses and people around the world can work to implement strategies and policies to bring all ages out of poverty.

Sophia McWilliams
Photo: Pixabay

COVID-19 in Yemen
“Over the past five years, I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought that surely things can’t get more desperate in Hodeidah, [Yemen,]” writes Salem Jaffer Baobaid for The New Humanitarian. Fortunately, fighting and airstrikes have ceased in the city, but the Yemeni Civil War still rages on in other parts of the nation. Now, however, COVID-19 promises to further complicate the situation in Yemen. According to UNICEF, approximately 80% of the Yemeni people require humanitarian aid, which is around 24 million people nationwide. Amid the terror and destruction, hospitals are shutting down, leaving people more vulnerable than ever to the biological dangers of COVID-19 in Yemen. To understand the state of addressing the pandemic in Yemen, one must be aware of the conflict unfolding, how COVID-19 affects the conflict and what assistance is being provided to the Yemeni people.

Where Did This Violence Come From?

After the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh is replaced through a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal placing Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, his deputy, into power. Houthis, the other major group in the conflict, are pushing against Hadi’s power and Saudi influence in the region. In 2014, the Houthis took control over the capital, Sanaa, Yemen, which led to more violence and airstrikes led by Saudi Arabian forces. However, the Houthis are known to be supported by Iran informally, though there are rumors of financial and military support as well.

COVID-19 in Yemen Amid Conflict

Amid airstrikes, city-wide takeovers and alleged coups, the Yemeni people have been largely forgotten. Hospitals all over the nation have shut down due to physical damage and shortages of fuel and medical resources. Only 51% of hospitals and clinics were functioning as of 2015. Meanwhile, over 300 districts in Yemen do not have a single doctor operating within their borders. Due to hospital shutdowns, there are 675 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and only 309 ventilators available. These numbers demonstrate the very real threat posed by COVID-19. Lack of reliable reporting and economic struggles have only deepened the struggle to contain COVID-19 in Yemen.

On April 2, 2020, a Houthi news organization reported the first case of COVID-19 in Yemen, but this was retracted only for another news release to be published around a week later. As of June 2020, the nation reports 1,100 cases and over 300 deaths, placing the startling mortality rate near 25%.

COVID-19 is also creating economic troubles for Yemen’s citizens. Many people in Yemen are reliant on remittances, or money being sent to them from a relative outside of the country. However, COVID-19 has led to economic recessions and copious layoffs all over the world. As a result, people who have lost jobs are unable to send money back to Yemen.

As the nation struggled to grapple with the loss of remittances and a surge in COVID-19 cases, Yemen also lost international aid that it relied on. The United States alone cut $73 million of aid to Yemen in April 2020 as a response to its own COVID-19 crisis, according to Oxfam.

Assisting the Yemeni People

Amid such chaos, nonprofit groups are moving in to fight for the underdog. Oxfam stands out as one of the most effective groups. Oxfam is currently working to help families in small refugee settlements throughout the nation. There Oxfam digs wells to increase accessibility to clean water in addition to passing out “hygiene kits” that include mosquito nets, wash bins, water jugs and more.

Oxfam is also heavily involved in educating people on how to avoid contracting diseases such as COVID-19 in Yemen. Meanwhile, there are groups working in the United States government to stop its halt on funding for the crisis in Yemen.

– Allison Moss
Photo: Flickr

NGOs in Vietnam Vietnam has made significant progress in reducing poverty. Since 2002, more than 45 million people have risen above the poverty line. Today, only 6% of the population lives in poverty. However, 86% of those people are ethnic minorities, meaning there is room for improvement. Here are three NGOs in Vietnam that are continuing to improve life.

Oxfam

In 2014, Oxfam launched its Even It Up campaign to reduce global income inequality. In Vietnam, they identified that only around 200 people own 12% of the country’s wealth. The wealth of the richest person in Vietnam could lift 1.3 million Vietnamese out of poverty. Unfortunately, this consolidation of wealth has risen as the poverty rate has fallen.

Solving income inequality is key to fighting poverty, as Oxfam stated in a 2017 report: “high levels of inequality reduce social mobility, leaving the poorest more likely to remain poor for generations.” Oxfam tackles this issue by advocating for governance reforms, such as tax and wage reform, and support for socially disadvantaged peoples. Their past successes helped over 400,000 rural women and minorities and migrant workers.

SNV

SNV is an NGO based in the Netherlands. They focus on promoting “premium quality” in agriculture, energy, and WASH (sanitation). The NGO in Vietnam worked with the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative to assist Vietnamese pangasius farmers in using sustainable farming practices. Pangasius, a relative of the U.S. catfish, makes up a substantial portion of Vietnam’s exports. SNV  wanted to help address concerns about the environmental quality of pangasius operations. SNV worked with the IDH, members of the seafood industry and the government of Vietnam to help pangasius operations achieve Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification. Between 2011 and 2013, SNV helped farmers produce over 50,000 metric tons of pangasius. They also ensured co-financing for 35 operations.

In 2016, SNV partnered with NGOs CARE and Oxfam to implement the Women’s Economic Empowerment through Agricultural Value Chain Enhancement (WEAVE) project. It aims to reduce gender inequality among ethnic minorities in Northwest Vietnam. In the Lao Cai and Bac Kan provinces, WEAVE is helping women who participate in the banana, pork, and cinnamon industries. In the Nam Det commune in the Lao Cai province, more than 1,300 hectares of cinnamon are now USDA-certified organic. This is over 70% of the acreage in the commune. This certification will not only support sustainable agriculture, but it will also increase jobs in the cinnamon industry, especially for women.

Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund

The Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund operates only in Vietnam. They focus on education and the transportation necessary for it. For example, they provide bikes and helmets to girls to help them attend school. As of 2019, they have provided more than 1,700 bikes and repaired more than 1,400. Rock-Paper-Scissors also ensures schools can offer music and art education classes. “Music and art provide a way for kids to leave the daily struggle of grinding poverty,” fund founder, Sara Stevens Narone, stated. In 2019, Rock-Paper-Scissors reached 87% with weekly art classes, 25 students with thrice a week music lessons and 150 minority students with a summer art camp.

These NGOs and others in Vietnam have helped improve quality of life. As COVID-19 has dampened the global economy, Vietnam still expects moderate growth rates of 3-4% in the next year. But this is three points lower than pre-COVID-19 expectations. This means much more can and should be done to combat poverty.

– Jonathan Helton
Photo: Wikimedia

NGOsNon-governmental organizations (NGOs) are nonprofit associations founded by citizens, which function independently of the government. NGOs, also known as civil societies, are organized on “community, national, or international levels” to help developing nations in their humanitarian, health care, educational, social, environmental and social issues. These citizen-run groups perform various services and humanitarian functions by advocating citizen concerns to governments, overlooking policies and encouraging political participation by providing information to the public.

History of Non-Governmental Organizations

Non-governmental organizations started emerging during the 18th century. The Anti-Slavery Society, formed in 1839, is the first international NGO. This organization had a profound impact on society, and it stimulated the founding of many other NGOs since opening its doors. Of note, many civil societies began to form as a result of wars. For example, the Red Cross formed after the Franco-Italian war in the 1860s, Save the Children began after World War I and Oxfam and CARE started after World War II. The term non-governmental organization emerged after the Second World War when the United Nations wanted to differentiate between “intergovernmental specialized agencies and private organizations.”

NGOs engage in many different forms throughout communities in the sense that they are a “complex mishmash of alliances and rivalries.” Some have a charitable status, while others focus on business or environment-related issues. Other non-governmental organizations have religious, political, or other interests concerning a particular issue.

The World Bank identifies two broad types of non-governmental organizations: operational and advocacy.

Operational NGOs

An operational non-governmental organization is a group of citizens that focus on designing and implementing development projects and advocacy. NGOs promote and defend particular causes, and operational NGOs fall into two categories: relief and development-oriented organizations. They are classified on whether or not they “stress service delivery or participation.”

An example of an operational NGO is the International Medicine Corps (IMC) in Afghanistan. The IMC installed a vaccination campaign against measles. They trained about 170 Afghani’s how to vaccinate children between the ages of 6 and 12, and conducted a two-week-long “vaccination campaign.” These efforts assisted 95 percent of children in the capital of Kabul.

Advocacy NGOs

Advocacy non-governmental organizations use lobbying, press work and activist events. This is in order to raise awareness, acceptance and knowledge on the specific cause they are promoting or defending. An example of an advocacy NGO is America’s Development Foundation (ADF). This NGO provides advocacy training and technical assistance in efforts to “increase citizen participation in democratic processes.”

Non-Governmental Organization Funding

Since non-governmental organizations are nonprofit organizations, they rely on membership dues, private donations, the sales of goods and services and grants. These funds cover funding projects, operations, salaries and other overhead costs. NGOs have very large budgets that reach millions, even billions, of dollars because of heavy dependence on government funding.

Another chunk of NGO funding belongs to the individual, private donors. A few of these donors are affluent individuals, such as Ted Turner who donated $1 billion to the United Nations. Most nonprofits, however, depend on multiple small donations from people to raise money.

Overall, non-governmental organizations function to build support for a certain cause whether it is economic, political or social. In addition, NGOs tend to bring people together, especially advocacy NGOs.

– Isabella Gonzalez Montilla
Photo: Pixabay

Why Typhoon Mangkhut Hit Poor People the Hardest in the Philippines
On September 15, the Philippines was struck by a massive typhoon. Winds were blowing at 210 km/h, gusting up to 285 km/h. The most recent death toll was 81 with dozens still missing. The World Meteorological Organization has named the storm the “strongest tropical cyclone the world has faced this year.” As with most other natural disasters, Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines hit the poorest populations the hardest.

Landslides

Deadly landslides occurred as a result of overflowing rivers. One of the most disastrous was in Itogen, a remote northern mining town. Emergency workers used shovels and their bare hands to recover the bodies of forty people from the debris. Of the victims, almost all are impoverished gold miners and their family members. Officers in the area told people to find safe shelter prior to the typhoon, but many stayed behind to work the tunnels where they perished.

In Naga, Cebu, landslides wiped out 30 homes in two rural villages, killing 18 people while 64 others are still missing. At least seven of the villagers were rescued after sending text messages calling for help. Too many farmers did not leave quickly enough because they were trying to harvest their crops before the storm or landslides destroyed them.

Authorities say that the typhoon was particularly damaging in the central northern mountainous Cordillera region (CAR), which is composed of the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province and the cities of Baguio and Tabuk. Populations that live in these mountains are heavily indigenous and predominantly poor, with 17.1 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Most farmers who live there grow rice, and their margin of income is very thin at best.

According to an article in First Point: “Poverty has forced many to live on or near volcanoes, steep mountains and storm-vulnerable coasts, often leading to disasters.” So, it is the poorest populations that bear the brunt of the destruction.

Massive Flooding

The flash flooding that has resulted from Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines has been disastrous for rural farmers. Mangkhut swamped farm fields in the north, where much of the agriculture is located. Unfortunately, the typhoon came a month after severe monsoon rains that had already made these provinces vulnerable to disaster. Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol predicts a total of 1.5 million farmers and over 100,000 fishing communities will be impacted by the typhoon.

The flooding was so bad that rice fields in Iguig could be mistaken for the town’s river. Oxfam’s April Bulanadi said of the disaster: “While I was able to see some farmers desperately harvesting crops the day before the storm hit, it was clear many were not able to do so. This is heartbreaking because it was supposed to be harvest season next month. This will have devastating impacts on small farmers, many of whom are still recovering from Typhoon Haima in 2016.” Some farmers lost their lives in the floods, but those who left in time will still lose their income due to lost and damaged crops.

The Aftermath of the Typhoon

The only current solution is to support the recovery of the victims of Typhoon Mangkhut. Clean water and materials needed to build shelters for those who have lost their homes are being sent by organizations such as Oxfam. Getting through to the villages has been problematic since the airport was also hit by the typhoon.

Maria Rosario Felizco, Oxfam Philippines Country Director, said that “we must also anticipate that the survivors of Typhoon Mangkhut, especially small fishers and farmers who have lost their source of income, will need support far beyond the first few days of this response.” However, aid is not the only thing that the country needs. Changes also need to be made in order to prevent disasters like this from completely destroying the livelihoods of poor farmers.

Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines was tragic. For those living in poverty, the storm directly posed a threat to their lives, work and homes all at once. The typhoon was particularly detrimental to the country’s poorest citizens because of their location and the devastating loss they must now endure due to destroyed crops.

Evann Orleck-Jetter
Photo: Flickr

Oxfam Uses 3D PrintingWith advances in modern technology, there has been a rise in the use of 3D printing by companies and individuals. The nonprofit and humanitarian sectors have begun using the technology in order to better achieve their goals. Oxfam is one of the nonprofit humanitarian organizations that has been trialing 3D printing to help with its disaster relief measures.

How Oxfam uses 3D printing is not a new concept; many other organizations have attempted to use the technology or are latching onto the idea of creating aid items in the area instead of having to ship them.

According to the Oxfam U.K. website, in 2014, Oxfam teamed with a design company called iMakr and asked its supporters with engineering and design expertise to help. The goal is to ultimately use 3D printing to print materials at the disaster site instead of having to ship everything there.

They want to use 3D printing to print their WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) kits. Not only would the kits save time, they would also save money in the long run for the organization, allowing for that money to be used elsewhere by Oxfam to conduct its mission.

Oxfam did a test run with 3D printing after the earthquake in Nepal. They used it for small parts that people may need, such as parts for water pipes. They worked with FieldReady, a nonprofit that specializes in using 3D printing and new technologies in its work.

FieldReady was using 3D printing to print medical tools and supplies in Nepal after the earthquake, showing that 3D printing can be expanded from just kits. It can also be used to make tools and instruments that are fully functional in everyday life. 3D printing by Oxfam was also trialed in Sri Lanka to help support a dam.

There is still a long way to go to see how Oxfam uses 3D printing in the future and it will be interesting to see if they will continue to lead the way with innovations in technology. While 3D printing is relatively new, other organizations can follow Oxfam’s model and try to use them and mold them to their missions in order to become more efficient and effective.

Emilia Beuger

Photo: Pixabay

Oxfam Launches a New Project with Celebrity Voices: "I Hear You"
In 2015, more than 65 million people were displaced because of persecution, war and human rights violations. Nations around the world agreed to accept refugees, but the backlash has been swift amidst fears of terrorism. In light of this backlash, many organizations and individuals have tried to lend a voice to the refugee crisis.

One of the organizations on the forefront of global poverty is Oxfam. For over 70 years, Oxfam has been working to create awareness about global poverty. They focus on issues that contribute to poverty including discrimination and unequal access to resources. Oxfam provides clean water, food and aid to individuals suffering from poverty around the world. In response to the refugee crisis, Oxfam created a new project called “I Hear You“.

The “I Hear You” project aims to put a voice to the refugee crisis by recruiting celebrity voices to share personal refugee stories. Each celebrity reads a real-life story. The celebrities include Margot Robbie, John Cho, Gael García Bernal, Anna Camp, Minnie Driver and Al Madrigal.

By sharing the personal narratives, Oxfam hopes to create awareness and connect people to the stories. By going beyond the numbers and the statistics, Oxfam is trying to illustrate the humanity of the people impacted most by violence and persecution around the world. Social science often touts the concept of proximity; humans have a tendency to understand and bond with those that they are closest to in their lives. By sharing these personal stories, Oxfam has the ability to create a closer proximity to the refugees, and this could foster understanding.

The video series recently debuted on the Vanity Fair website; the videos are brief but powerful. John Cho tells the story of a teacher trying desperately to deliver lessons to his students even as they live in a refugee camp. Margot Robbie’s story is about a 17-year-old girl who dreams of bettering herself through education even as she has packed up everything she owns to flee a war zone. These celebrities are shining a light on the crisis, and each story is personal. Oxfam recognizes the possibility that activism can stem from those relatable stories.

After watching the videos, viewers can reach out to Oxfam on their website or by text to see what actions they can take for refugees living in poverty and displacement around the world. In addition to collecting donations for refugees, Oxfam also appeals to those hearing the stories to pledge compassion and kindness to refugees that are relocating.

Jennifer Graham

Photo: Flickr

Glastonbury Live Album
The Glastonbury Festival has been held in Pilton, England every summer since 1970. This year’s festival is exceptionally special as the first-ever Glastonbury live album will be released on July 11.

NME, the British music and entertainment publication reports that all proceeds from the Glastonbury live album, Stand As One, will go toward Oxfam International’s Refugee Crisis Appeal initiative.

Oxfam International is an alliance made up of 18 organizations that began its mission in 1995. According to their website, Oxfam “works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive.”

Oxfam works globally to fix a number of issues like inequality, fair distribution of natural resources, women’s rights and the growth of sustainable food in developing countries.

The Refugee Crisis Appeal is an emergency campaign to raise money for countries that are overwhelmed by refugees, such as Jordan, Syria, Italy and Greece.

The Oxfam website states that they have already provided 45,000 people with water on the border of Syria and Jordan by constructing a water tank, served 100,000 meals on the Greek island Lesbos and given legal counsel to many refugees in Italy.

Oxfam decided to dedicate the album to the late Jo Cox, a member of Parliament and Labor Party politician. Cox spent 10 years working at Oxfam and was a longtime advocate for refugees across the globe.

“Given Jo’s tireless work to help refugees both at Oxfam and beyond it felt appropriate to dedicate the album to her,” Oxfam’s Chief Executive Mark Goldring said in a press release.

Goldring stated later in the interview that Glastonbury’s live album will be, “bringing the weight of the music world in support of people in desperate need.”

Thousands of people will crowd 900 acres of farmland to see artist like Coldplay, Muse, Sigur Ros, Chvrches, The 1975 and Wolf Alice.

There will be incredible music, beautiful art displays and fields filled with passionate fans, but this year refugees will be represented on one of the largest stages in the world.

Liam Travers

Photo: Radio X

Living WagesIn late September 2015, Oxfam U.K. released a report highlighting the need for living wages in order for people to escape from poverty. The report utilizes information obtained through research in Morocco, Vietnam, Myanmar, Kenya and Malawi.

Employment is a critical tool to help people earn an income, but, as Oxfam finds, employment is not the cure when so many businesses pay below a living wage level and/or force people to work overtime, as was the case with many of those surveyed for this research.

Consequently, many suffer from in-work poverty.

Furthermore, the report takes note of the burden of unpaid care work for those supporting families. These additional hours (approximately six per day for women and one per day for men) place stress on workers.

Since, according to Oxfam, most of the workers in in-work poverty are women, creating living wages would produce positive benefits for families and children.

The report also highlights income inequality, citing a January 2015 report that 1 percent of the world’s population holds 99 percent of the world’s wealth. Income inequality is even more drastic at the very top; 85 people hold half of the world’s wealth.

Oxfam conducted longitudinal studies with both qualitative and quantitative data in five countries. Across countries, it was clear that a living wage would improve people’s health, well-being and worker productivity.

In Morocco, female strawberry pickers’ working conditions were studied. It was found that women did not earn living wages, and because many lacked identity documents, they had no way to assert their right to living wages.

In Malawi, tea pluckers who worked for companies involved in the Ethical Tea Partnership were studied. While they often made more than the minimum wage and received in-kind benefits for their labor, raising workers’ wages to a living wage would drastically improve workers’ abilities to feed their families.

In Kenya, agricultural workers were studied. While workers make the minimum wage, there is a large gap between the minimum wage and a living wage. For the typical unskilled agricultural worker who works nine hours a day, six days a week, this small increase in wages would accumulate into substantial improvements toward his or her livelihood.

Oxfam’s focus in Vietnam was on the companies that were part of Unilever’s supply chain. While Unilever headquarters assumed that employees were being paid living wages, they were not. Presently, Unilever is taking action to increase transparency and accountability in its supply chain.

In Myanmar, garment workers were studied; 90 percent of respondents were women. For many women, working overtime was the only way to make ends meet. Currently, Oxfam is working with corporations and the Myanmar government to develop a living wage for garment workers.

Overall, there is a great need to increase accountability in global supply chains, ensure living wages for all workers and raise awareness of labor rights for workers in developing nations.

The living wages for most of these countries were around $3 to $4 per worker per day, barely above the poverty line. However, the difference in livelihood for those making a living wage versus those who don’t is substantial.

Hopefully, as Oxfam suggests, corporation accountability for global supply chains will increase, as will government involvement to implement and regulate policies supporting labor rights. For consumers, this report is another reminder of globalization and how our purchases affect those a world away.

Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: Ethical Trading Initiative, Oxfam
Photo: Pixabay

International Good Books Gives Retail Profit to OxfamThe tangible gift of a book gives the intangible gift of learning. When one gives The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird, a young person learns about race relations in the United States. Or maybe a child’s imagination can expand through classics such as The Chronicles of Narnia. What if you could give that gift to a loved one and at the same time help the education of someone in poverty?

It’s possible through the Auckland, New Zealand based company, Good Books. Just by shopping for books on their website, one can directly help the world’s poor through an automatic donation to Oxfam New Zealand, a partner of the general Oxfam family.

This is possible through a business plan by Good Books, which includes several partners that can donate their time or services to make the operation have zero operating costs.

For example, all the workers directly associated with Good Books are unpaid. The organization’s book distributor, Paperback Shop UK, handles the actual moving of the merchandise and supplies the website and management services. Also, the organization is able to build the company’s brand through media support and customers spreading the word.

But this specific labor is for a great cause since all retail profits are sent to Oxfam, an organization that works on many fronts trying to end global poverty.

Oxfam’s work is varied; the Oxfam America website specifically says the following about their work which is indicative of the organization’s work as a whole:

“No one should go hungry.”

“We all have the right to clean water.”

“All people deserve to live safely.”

“Women and girls are crucial to reducing poverty.”

“We all deserve the opportunity to earn a decent living.”

“People have a right to participate in decisions that affect their lives.”

“We must help poor communities cope with climate change.”

“Poverty is not inevitable.”

“People have the power to end poverty.”

While the purchase/donation cannot be earmarked through the Good Books’ website, purchasing the books matches well with the statements, “women and girls are crucial to reducing poverty,” and “we all deserve the opportunity to earn a decent living.” Both of those ideas hinge on education for the masses to move people out of poverty.

Oxfam New Zealand says that “every extra year a girl spends in school could reduce child mortality by ten percent.” So, much of their good work is built around education initiatives to help the community.

Oxfam and their partners have helped rebuild schools in Pakistan, get clean water for students in Nairobi, teach about women’s rights in Guatemala, and even giving goats to families in Ethiopia where the selling of offspring and goods provides money to send daughters of poor families to school.

By buying books from Good Books, consumers can use their purchasing power to help all the areas listed above. Specifically though, one can use their money to directly aid the fight against poverty while also reading a book that can change the mental attitudes for those in developed countries. Awareness and change concerning poverty can be worked on in two very distinct ways through the purchase of books.

Megan Ivy

Sources: Good Books, Oxfam America, Oxfam New Zealand
Photo: Oxfaminternation