Coronavirus Relief Concert
Lady Gaga’s coronavirus relief concert, “One World: Together at Home,” raised $127 million to provide the world’s poorest countries with personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential supplies to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Performance for A Greater Good

In partnership with the World Health Organization and the United Nations, the organization Global Citizen released performances from artists including Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Alicia Keys and many more. The concert aimed to raise awareness of countries that could not afford the proper equipment needed for essential workers.

Global Citizen says that Lady Gaga’s coronavirus relief concert aimed to “celebrate and support healthcare workers and others on the frontlines, and the World Health Organization (WHO) as they lead the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.” Around the world, poor countries disproportionately feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic — more so than countries like the U.S.

What Did “One World: Together at Home” Accomplish?

Lady Gaga’s coronavirus relief concert raised support and awareness for the COVID-19 crisis all around the world due to the high-profile guests and musicians featured in the program.

As a result of the large-scale, global support, Global Citizen raised $127 million for PPE and other supplies to provide to people around the world. Specifically, they were able to supply “[more than] 700,000 surgical masks, 51,000 N95 masks, 727,000 gloves, 85,000 gowns, nearly 14,000 goggles, and [more than] 20,000 face shields.” Funds went to 120 countries, including 39 countries in Africa, 20 in the eastern Mediterranean region and 29 in the Americas.

Global Citizen is an organization that aims to end extreme poverty by 2030. The organization’s methods include posting, tweeting, messaging, signing, calling and voting on issues that are pertinent to extreme poverty around the world.

COVID-19 & Global Poverty

But what does COVID-19 have to do with global poverty? Overall, productivity growth, a large contributing factor for lifting people out of poverty, is at a low due to the virus. From past illnesses and financial depressions, some speculate that this low rate of productivity growth will decrease further, the longer the pandemic lasts.

Without financial stability and the necessary protective equipment for essential workers, it is clear that those in poverty will suffer greatly as a result of the pandemic. Without access to important protections, those in poverty will continue to go on with life as they had before. Unfortunately, these activities come with an increased risk of illness as well.

Areas in which there is extreme poverty are often overcrowded. This, in turn, leads to more exposure to the coronavirus when no protections like masks or face shields are present. Additionally, the hospital space quickly becomes overwhelmed with rising numbers of cases. If patients do not receive proper care and if necessary protections are not used, cases will likely continue to rise.

Hospitals in impoverished areas are frequently unlikely to have the capacity to afford PPE and  other vital supplies. Patients will not be able to afford care, nor will the hospitals be able to supply the proper care needed in these situations. All of these factors combined, lead to more deaths as a result of COVID-19. For these reasons, any activities like Lady Gaga’s (and other artists’) performance that promote the global use of PPE and provide critical funding toward purchasing these supplies are beneficial.

– Natalie Belford
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Red Nose Day
Jack Black checked up on a Ugandan teen that he met during last year’s Red Nose Day.

Red Nose Day, a fundraising campaign run by the non-profit organization Comic Relief Inc., was held this year on May 26. The campaign works to free children around the world from poverty.

The Red Nose Day Special is a live two-hour primetime television event that brings celebrities together to use the power of comedy to raise money. This year, the organization partnered with NBC, Walgreens, M&Ms and the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation.

Jack Black, an American actor, comedian, musician and producer, was one of the 2016 participants of Red Nose Day’s inaugural telethon. He took a look back on his experience last year, when he traveled to a Ugandan slum and met an impactful young man.

Black was brought to tears when he visited the slums of Kampala, Uganda, where he met the orphaned teen named Felix. Black spent two days with Felix, learning how the teen made his living selling plastic bottles and slept on the dangerous streets at night.

The experience stuck with Black. The telethon covered an update on Felix, showing viewers how the teen benefitted from the organization’s efforts and giving Black some peace of mind.

When Black visited the slums, he was shocked at how much it emotionally affected him. He found it unfathomable that teenagers were sleeping on the streets and had little to no access to basic necessities.

During Black’s trip, the teen asked if he could go home with Black, saying, “I want to go with you.” While holding back tears, the actor replied, “I don’t think I can take you home. I don’t think it’s allowed.”

After the emotional experience, Black now feels better knowing that Red Nose Day has helped teens like Felix. In the video clip update, Felix describes his life now, saying: “I’m not scared anymore. There is no scary place. I would like to do well at school and complete my bright future. Now I have a dream.”

Felix additionally thanked Black for sharing his story with the world. With the funds raised by Red Nose Day, Felix was placed in a counseling program and then with a foster family. He is also now receiving an education.

This year, Black took a comedic spin on tackling child poverty. He said the best way to donate is simply by buying a little red nose, noting that they are great stocking stuffers.

The little red noses must have been a hit, as Red Nose Day raised $31.5 million this year. This money goes a long way in aiding the global poor. According to the Red Nose Day organization, $4 buys anti-malaria to protect mothers and children against mosquitos, $5 buys antibiotics to prevent pneumonia in children, and $15 can keep a child safe and sheltered for a week.

Globally, Red Nose Day has raised $1 billion in the last 25 years. While half of the money is given domestically, the other half goes to the poorest communities in places like Africa, Latin America and Asia. The funds are directly given to children in need of safety, education and healthcare.

In 2015, $170,000 was given to provide vaccines to children under the age of five living in the poorest communities in Africa. $30,000 was given to children and families in Africa that do not have access to clean water and sanitation.

Some of the 2016 charity partners included the Children’s Health Fund, The Global Fund, OXFAM, Save the Children and Gavi.

Kimber Kraus

Photo: Flickr

Many describe author and writer Neil Gaiman as a new age rock star of the literary world. Not only is he married to activist and punk princess Amanda Palmer, but Gaiman is responsible for creating one of the most influential comics books series of all-time, Sandman, and is also the author of two best-selling novels, “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys”, which are currently being adapted into television shows.

There is little that Neil Gaiman hasn’t accomplished and recently, Gaiman used his celebrity status to help raise money for Heifer International through Worldbuilders, a collective power of readers, authors, and fellow book lovers who care about making the world a better place.

Joining forces with founder and fellow fantasy author Pat Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman recorded himself reading a live version of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham in playful voices as a reward for those who helped Worldbuilders raise $500,000 through Heifer International.

“Heifer International is my favorite charity. It helps people raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. Heifer promotes education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry all over the world. They don’t just keep kids from starving, they make it so families can take care of themselves. They give goats, sheep, and chickens to families so their children have milk to drink, warm clothes to wear and eggs to eat,” said Rothfuss.

Fellow fantasy authors contributing in raising awareness and donations for Worldbuilders included Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, and John Scalzi. Other musicians and actors also supported the cause including Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Amber Benson who will record herself and Rothfuss reading urban fantasy fiction if the charity raises $700,000 by the fundraisers end.

The money received through Worldbuilders will be used to empower families and their communities on a “teach a man how to fish” philosophy which aims at ending poverty through increasing opportunities. Heifer International’s core model, Passing on the Gift, sets out to bring sustainable agriculture and revenue to areas plagued by years of poverty.

By providing animals to communities and teaching their members how to utilize such resources, Heifer International works to help the recipient benefit from the knowledge and products the project and animals produce. After specific techniques are learned, the recipient than becomes the donor and teaches other members of the community the same values they were taught.

After that training is passed on, so is the first female offspring of the original gift, which starts the cycle all over again. Nearly 70 years later, this process is not only a success, but is also creating opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural collaborations, and boosting the local economy.

Jeffrey Scott Haley
Feature Writer

Sources: Patrick Rothfuss, A.V. Club, World Builders, Heifer International
Photo: Entertainment Weekly