Compassion International, a Christian ministry organization, is highlighting the reality of global poverty through an interactive event hosted in the United States.

The exhibits are free to the public and seek to display true stories of children living in challenged developing countries such as Kenya, Uganda and the Dominican Republic. Through this forum, the organization gives visitors the opportunity to step into the lives of people living in developing countries without getting on a plane.

Visitors are guided through exhibits laid out over 2,000 square feet. Throughout the tour, people have the opportunity to experience the lives of three children who are sponsored by Compassion International. Each of the children featured narrates their own story.

“The tour took us through his life in the streets and eventually to the point where he became involved with Compassion International,” Joseph Hughes, who resonated with the story of Rueben, a child from the Dominican Republic, said. “It was a moving experience. I’ll admit, when Reuben finally became stable, had food and access to an education, I teared up a little.”

According to UNICEF, 1.9 million children are living in poverty today. The interactive tour started when Compassion International teamed up with local churches to provide child development programs and assist children living in poverty.

James Hays, a pastor who helps lead the event, said he wanted to give others the opportunity to experience life in different regions of the world that are impacted by global poverty.

“We thought it would be something not only our church would benefit from, but the community could as well,” he said.

Overall, the response from visitors has been positive. Jillian Kissell, a participant of one event in Searcy, Arkansas described the event as “enlightening”.

“I think it’s important to see how others are living and what their daily lives look like,” she said. “I like experiences that will get me out of my comfort zone and learn something new.”

Hays said this is the first time Compassion International has put on the event. According to information found on Compassion International’s website, the tour will visit 35 cities this year.

Alyson Atondo

Sources: UNICEF, Harding, Access Atlanta, TCPalm, The Connection
Photo: Flickr

It is common knowledge that the world’s population is growing. Less so, but still well known is the fact that the majority of this growth takes place in developing countries. This fact can either increase or reduce global poverty, depending upon what actions are made in response.

Looking at the Stats

In a recent article on USAID’s blog entitled, “How to End Extreme Poverty in 3 Easy Steps,” they stated that, “The bulge in young populations seen in places like Africa offers an opportunity to bolster the economic growth of the continent and, in turn, lift more people out of poverty.”

When looking at youth statistics though, it is hard to find much that is positive. The UN’s statistics on youth in 2011 showed that unemployment rates for young people are significantly higher than adults in every region of the world.

Then, in 2012 stated, “Nearly 75 million youth are unemployed around the world, an increase of more than 4 million since 2007. By 2016, the youth unemployment rate is projected to remain at the same high level.” And remain at the same high levels it has.

That leaves around 75 million individuals that could be fighting poverty as an untapped resource.

If change is to happen, the youth need to be reached in order to reduce poverty.

According to the Global Partnership for Education organization, “If all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.”

How can youth reduce poverty by this much though? And why is education so vital to success?

6 Ways Education Combats Poverty

  1. Provides knowledge and skills to provide for themselves and children
  2. Better work opportunities
  3. Creates better chances for economic growth
  4. Encourages transparency in government and fights corruption
  5. Reduces child marriages and early births
  6. Reduces spread of diseases

These are only six of the many ways that education combats and reduces poverty. By focusing on youth education programs, global poverty would be dramatically changed.

Obstacles Despite Aid

Many governments, programs and organizations such as USAID and the Global Partnership for Education are currently making improvements in this area, but much more remains to be changed.

USAID alone has trained almost 4,000 teachers and enrolled 336,000 more children in school over the last five years.

Even with this kind of success though, there are many barriers that keep the youth from educational opportunities.

These issues range from gender inequality, political unrest/war, lack of resources, disabilities, climate change and more.

The youth of the world are the hope for a better future. By investing in them, hope for poverty reduction increases. Effective, quality education is the key that brings it all together.

The USAID article on ending extreme poverty stated, “To be free of poverty is to have access to the basics in life — enough nutritious meals a day, good health and well-being, training to build skills and knowledge, and freedom and independence in a peaceful environment.”

With the youth being targeted as a resource, reducing, and possibly even ending, extreme global poverty is a goal that is within reach.

Katherine Martin

Sources: Medium, UNESCO 1, Global Partnership, UNESCO 2
Photo: Pixabay


This past week, the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) discussed Angolan anti-poverty goals. Specifically, Director General José Graziano de Silva stated that the Angolan government is prioritizing the reduction of the country’s poverty rate by one half.

The Brazilian diplomat went on to remind his audience of the extreme conflict situations that Angola has faced in the past. He stressed that the country had all of its farming fields contaminated by landmines, but ended on a positive note, stating that the country is now recovering extraordinarily.

He made it clear that he wants Angola to serve as an example for other countries. For African countries still facing similar conflicts, the FAO is doing all that it can to spread the word of Angola’s experience.

For Angola specifically, the FAO has pledged its willingness to provide help and cooperation in fields such as agriculture, rural development, forests, fisheries and all other necessary focus areas. The hope is that, with time, these types of assistance will be provided across the entire continent.

Deputy Permanent Representative of Angola to the U.N. Agencies in Rome, Carlos Amaral, echoed the FAO Director General’s enthusiasm and determination. When asked about the situation of poverty rates and hunger in Angola, he boasted of the country’s recent accomplishments.

Amaral revealed to his audience that, although in the past the country hosted 6.8 million undernourished people, current records show only 3.2 million people suffering from malnourishment. He stated, “There is still work to be done regarding poverty reduction, but anyways there are indications that Angola is on the right track.”

Along with Angola, African countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda have been making notable strides in poverty reduction. They all share the same strategy: making a commitment to their own agricultural development.

For low-income farmers, lack of access to the capital required to help adapt their outputs to market demands presents a major issue. The protection of certain resources, such as access to proper land, water and human resources, could potentially allow all of Africa to achieve a sustainable food security system.

Continued urbanization amidst a growing population will create continued agricultural growth in Africa. Between 2000 and 2010, Africa’s agricultural GDP grew 3.2% each year. This was an increase from the previous decade, in which it grew by only 3% annually.

This moderate growth in the agricultural sector has helped to greatly reduce poverty levels in many African countries. With the FAO’s pledge to increase efforts in providing access to agricultural resources, Africa can now look ahead to an even brighter future.

Existing programs that target the agricultural sector, such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme and the African Green Revolution, have already gotten the ball rolling.

With a continued broad emphasis on agricultural development and improved focus in areas like protecting resources, creating wealth, and defining strategy and investment, Africa could redefine itself as a continent. It could shift from a continent known for poverty and scarcity to one filled with abounding agricultural potential.

Sarah Bernard

Sources: All Africa 1, All Africa 2, Huffington Post
Photo: VOA

Eradicating global poverty is a goal that not only transcends borders, ideologies and religions – it is also intricately related to other critical development goals outlined by the U.N. in the Millennium Development Goals. One issue closely tied to international poverty is the absence of access to basic, quality education in many developing countries. The relationship between education and poverty has become increasingly clear over the years, and addressing global education needs inevitably addresses global poverty as well. Here are ten startling facts relating education and poverty:

1. Expanding access to basic, quality education would spur a 12 percent drop in world poverty.
It is estimated that 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all individuals in developing nations left school with basic reading skills. However, estimates suggest that 250 million children still fail to learn basic reading skills in school, and 121 million children are not in school at all.

2. An individual’s earnings increase by 10 percent on average for each year of school completed.
Increasing the number of years that students receive quality education increases their income and pulls them out of poverty. Education in this way demonstrates a ripple effect because as earnings increase, more money is inserted into the local economy, and everyone reaps the benefits.

3. For every US$1 spent on education, US$10-$15 is generated in economic growth.
This means that allocating appropriate aid towards increasing access to education actually saves money in the long-term. However, the percentage of humanitarian aid dedicated to education is steadily dropping.

4. Education for girls and women is especially important.
When an educated woman’s income increases (as it will by 20 percent for each extra year of education), it has been shown that she will reinvest over 90 percent of her earnings in her family and community. It is estimated that by investing in secondary education for girls and women, 3 million lives could be saved. However, 62 million girls around the world are still not in school.

5. No country has obtained rapid economic growth without a literacy rate of at least 40 percent.
Around 781 million adults are illiterate, two-thirds of which are women. Illiteracy makes many things — reading a prescription bottle to signing a contract — virtually impossible and drastically reduces the ability of the individual to gain meaningful employment with a living wage.

6. About 75 million young people are unemployed.
This is a number that could be significantly reduced by increasing access to basic education in developing countries.

7. Countries that experience 20-30 percent surges in literacy rates through increased education see simultaneous surges in GDP of 8-16 percent.
Countries, not just individuals, are lifted out of poverty through increased education.

8. Each additional year of schooling raises annual GDP by 0.37 percent.
By focusing on providing quality education to citizens, nations can improve their international financial performance enormously.

9. School fees, where families must pay to enroll their children in primary school, remains a huge problem in developing nations.
The lack of funding dedicated to education means that many countries cannot afford to provide free, quality, public education. Many families that are already struggling to provide necessities such as food simply cannot afford to pay the price of a quality education for their children.

10. The poorest children are five times less likely to complete primary school than the richest children.
Being born into the poorest 20 percent of households worldwide often means that the child receives very little education, creating a vicious cycle from which it is very difficult to escape.

While huge progress has been achieved towards universal, quality education around the world, much remains to be done — for the sake not only of the children receiving schooling but for the world in general.

– Melissa Pavlik

Sources: United Nations, Basic Education Coalition, UNESCO 1, UNESCO 2
Photo: MacArthur Foundation

How Foreign Aid Can End HomophobiaTerrorism is not the only world ill that foreign aid can help prevent. As it turns out, impoverished areas could be breeding grounds for homophobia as well.

In the past decade, homophobia has been on the rise in Africa. An article by The Guardian states that repression is growing in South Africa, and last year Uganda passed an anti-homosexuality bill into law.

Homophobia in Africa is a combination of leftover colonialism and new religious colonialism by Western missionaries. Many of the anti-gay laws in Africa were established during the colonialist periods. New gay laws are primarily a product of Western missionaries using donations to influence African policies.

But why is this new colonialism so effective in African countries?

According to research by psychologist Karen Franklin, social and economic powerlessness could play a big role in homophobia and hate crimes. Franklin says that some hate crimes and homophobia could be a result of disenfranchised groups trying to find a source of power. Homophobia and other prejudice could in part be these groups finding power in suppressing other more disenfranchised groups.

Extremism in the form of terrorism can grow or find a haven in impoverished areas because of the lack of stable political structures, as well as the feelings of hope, power and security that the organizations can provide.

Religious extremism is thriving in African countries for much of the same reasons. Disorganized and poor government systems are allowing Western religious organizations to shift African policies in exchange for large donations.

On the ground in Africa, these policies and missionary groups are successfully breeding cultural homophobia, perhaps for the reasons that Dr. Karen Franklin found in her research. The poor in Africa who may not see any way out of poverty and who may not have any voice in their government may be seeking control in homophobia.

When the poor in Africa feel disenfranchised by the world as well as their governments, the homophobia brought by missionaries may feel comforting. While the poor in Africa may feel forlorn, they may be brought a sense of power and control in overpowering another disenfranchised group.

The good news is that aid could be used to undermine homophobia in the same way that USAID is trying to undermine terrorism.

Africa needs governments that are stable enough not to have their policies changed by money from foreign missionaries. If USAID helped stabilize African political structures, homophobia could be prevented in a large scale way.

If aid was provided to give more people in Africa access to education, African children could be taught critical thinking skills that would help them avoid discriminatory logic later on.

And finally, if poverty were ended in Africa, there would be fewer feelings of disenfranchisement. If every person in Africa had a secure food and water source, they would feel safer and would have less of a need to find power and security in homophobia.

Increased foreign aid to Africa is not only good for the poor, world security and international trade. Increasing foreign aid is also good for human rights.

– Clare Holtzman

Sources: Aid Data, Colorado College, Brookings, National Bureau of Economic Research, PBS, The Daily Beast, The Guardian, TIME
Photo: UN

The end to extreme poverty will not occur solely as a result of charities, businesses or governments. Defeating extreme poverty entails changing the rules, systems and structures that are designed to keep people poor. Change must occur through a country’s specific policies and practices that contribute to keeping people in extreme poverty.

Countries should ensure that governments, businesses and individuals act to establish alignment in the vested interests of the world’s poor. If executed progressively and strategically, such systems, structures, policies and processes can make a change. Five countries have made a boisterous and public commitment to ending poverty – Brazil, Colombia, Malawi, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Brazil – The Bolsa Familia Program

Efforts to end extreme poverty in Brazil originated from Bolsa Familia. The program directly transfers cash to pre-designated households deemed impoverished. The decisions about allocation are based on assessments of the depth of poverty rather than household composition. Over 45 million people are currently enrolled in the program. As a direct result of Bolsa Familia, the number of those living in extreme poverty in Brazil has dropped from 20.4 million to 11.9 million.

Colombia – Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative

In 2010, Colombia created a poverty reduction plan and multidimensional solution to address poverty. Their national development plan has three pillars: employment, poverty reduction and security. Due to a lack of successful poverty reduction results by the original program, adoption of a new poverty reduction strategy called the GOC occurred. According to the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, the strategy outlines the poverty index designed to monitor and measure different indicators of multidimensional poverty. This initiative will reflect the multiple deprivations that people suffer by identifying disparities across health, education and living standards. It will indicate the number of people who are poor on a multidimensional level and assist in allocating funds and determining efforts to eliminate extreme poverty.

Malawi – Malawi Growth and Development Strategy and the Farm Input Subsidy Programme

In 2002, the Malawian government launched the Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy (MPRS), which had the express purpose of achieving “sustainable poverty reduction through empowerment of the poor.” In 2005, the MPRS was reorganized as the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS). Currently, the MGDS comprises the overarching policy framework for social and economic development to reduce extreme poverty. In 2005, the Farm Input Subsidy Programme was introduced as a measure to increase agricultural production. In an effort to ensure food security, the government provides subsidized agricultural inputs to farmers with smaller land holdings. This has matured into agricultural policy. An estimated 50 percent of the Ministry of Agriculture’s budget is spent on methods to reduce expenditures of research and extension. The subsidy program is now a firmly established pillar of Malawian agricultural policy.

The United Kingdom – The Department for International Development

In the United Kingdom, The Department for International Development (DFID) leads national efforts to end extreme poverty. Their primary areas of focus are creating jobs, empowering girls and women and saving lives. The DFID honors the international commitments and purpose to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Their objectives are achieved through the effective improvement of governmental transparency, openness and value of money and policy development on economic growth and wealth creation.

The United States – USAID

In the United States, the USAID is the leading agency that works to end extreme global poverty. Their philosophy suggests an interconnected world in which instability anywhere around the world can impact us domestically. Thus, the focus is on military collaboration in active conflicts, efforts to stabilize countries and the building of responsive local governance. Essentially, the main objective is to utilize the transition period between conflict and long-term development by investing in agriculture, health systems and democratic institutions.

In order to end global extreme poverty, we must invest in common solutions. If all countries make the pledge commitment to end 0.7 percent of poverty, we can end extreme poverty by 2030.

– Erika Wright

Sources: Global Citizen, Global Humanitarian Assistance, Global Poverty Project, UK GOV Rural Poverty Portal, World Bank USAID
Photo: The Atlantic

quotes from people that changed the world
What do a French priest, Spanish poet, U.S. President, Scottish philosopher and self-freed African American all have in common?

They all think it’s time to end world poverty. Famous and brilliant men and women have been saying for years that at last we have the ability to make lasting change in the war on hunger.  Below are ten quotes from people that changed the world.

1. “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass, escaped slave, abolitionist leader and supporter of woman’s rights.

2. “The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation.” – John F. Kennedy, former U.S. President

3. “The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.” – Adam Smith, Scottish philosopher

4. “Hunger is not an issue of charity. It is an issue of justice.” – Jacques Diouf, Food and Agricultural Organization Director-general

5. “This is the first generation in all of recorded history that can do something about the scourge of poverty. We have the means to do it. We can banish hunger from the face of the earth.” – Hubert H. Humphrey, former U.S. Vice President

6. “[P]eace does not mean just putting an end to violence or to war, but to all other factors that threaten peace, such as discrimination, such as inequality, poverty.”– Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma

7. “What I would say to the young men and women who are beset by hopelessness and doubt is that they should go and see what is being done on the ground to fight poverty, not like going to the zoo but to take action, to open their hearts and their consciences.” – Abbé Pierre, French priest and member of the Resistance in WWII

8. “Poverty is everyone’s problem. It cuts across any line you can name: age, race, social, geographic or religious. Whether you are black or white; rich, middle-class or poor, we are ALL touched by poverty.” – Kathleen Blanco, former Governor of Louisiana

9. “The day that hunger is eradicated from the earth there will be the greatest spiritual explosion the world has ever known. Humanity cannot imagine the joy that will burst into the world.” – Federico Garcia Lorca, Spanish poet

10. “Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank, Holocaust victim

Change isn’t just needed, it’s also possible. It’s time to join the movement that’s fighting back against the greatest killer of people the world has ever seen – hunger. If any of these people inspire you, it’s because they accomplished something in the face of great opposition.

People are what change the world. Join us.

– Lydia Caswell

Sources: Do One Thing, Brainy Quote, Do Something Now
Photo: PBS

For those who fall into poverty, extracting one’s self from can be an excruciating and impossible feat. For one Florida town, systemic poverty is a threat to everyone and local ordinances can be utilized to identify how to assist those in need and the space to implement programs that can achieve justice.

In Jacksonville, a group of city leaders have identified a series of indicators that can be utilized to lift people out of poverty. The Florida politicians have claimed if seven of the nine assets are reached by individuals they can more than double their chances of rising out of poverty. These assets are not the same for everyone, and only two are statistically significant.

The poverty reducing project is called “1,000 in 1,000: Moving 1,000 people out of poverty in 1,000 days.” The project began in 2006 when city leaders came together to devise a plan to attack poverty and help people break the cycle that so many are trapped in.

They began by studying national research on poverty and then ran a pilot program over the course of five years. What they found was shocking. About 12 percent of residents live in poverty including one in six children. The typical family in poverty is a single woman with two or three children. She has a high school diploma, works two jobs and has no savings and high debt, often from student loans.

Officials have decided to reach out to these families and identify strategically what kind of assistance is needed. Helping the family is essential as the entire unit of individuals is trapped. Providing jobs and support creates stability and helps provide resources. Breaking barriers like the limitations from criminal records that can limit job opportunities and other denials of access. Bringing services together can help effectively target needy families, more effectively provide services and would be a better use of municipal resources.

Jacksonville is not alone in this poverty crisis. The United States has 15 million U.S. children living in poverty and nearly seven million young people out of school and without employment prospects.

Poverty is the single greatest threat to a child’s well-being and development. Poverty makes it harder to learn and is a contributing factor in chronic health conditions and risky behavior such as drug use, early sexual activity and crime.

When factors of poverty are accounted for, and the space and path for community uplifting expressed, poverty is not the daunting specter it currently parades as. The root causes of poverty are complex and there are no easy answers or quick cures.

When communities identify their members in need and provide at-risk youth and individuals with real world job experience and access to social services, there is a chance at success and way to break free of the poverty cycle. When we invest in each other and we allow ourselves to reach our full potential the protection of rights and the resources given in aid to others are no longer a liability but a necessary asset.

Nina Verfaillie
Feature Writer

Sources: The Florida Times, The Huffington Post
Photo: In Our Own Backyard

At the annual European Union’s Development Day in Brussels, some of the world’s brightest scientists, aid workers, and politicians convened in a discussion forum to address the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which had been initially set nearly 14 years ago. The event brought out a showing of nearly 5,000 people across 80 active organizations and groups, whose main objective was to review the status of the MDGs. These goals included reducing the number of people living in poverty by 50%, providing adequate primary school education for every boy and girl, reducing the child death rate for those less than five years old by two-thirds, and to halve the number of people without access to clean drinking water.

When these goals were originally created in September 2000, no one could have fathomed the very real possibility of substantially increasing living standards for those most vulnerable and aiming to extinguish poverty by 2015. “For the first time ever, we have what it takes to eliminate poverty in our lifetimes, and to ensure sustainable prosperity within the boundaries of what our planet can provide,” said EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Already, the number of people who live on less than one euro a day has been cut in half when taking an average global reading.

Though there are many positive signs at reaching these set MDGs, there is still much that can be improved upon when analyzing global humanitarian efforts as a whole. Currently, only a select number of countries have set aside the official target of donating 0.7% of gross domestic products (GDP) towards development aid, a fact that hinders the probability reaching such goals. “We have to admit that our progress report on achieving the MDGs is uneven. Much more needs to be done to close the gap between the haves and the have-nots to reduce and eradicate inequity, inequality, and exclusion in our world,” says Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller.

Working towards these goals over the last 13 years has proven to be difficult, but according to officials speaking at EU’s Development Day, planned completion of these goals remains two years ahead of schedule. In providing access to cleaner drinking water, 6 million people now have access to clean water sources. The majority of children in schools have also increased, though it is still estimated roughly 60 million children will go through their lives without proper education.

While the fight against poverty is long and arduous, leaders around the world have faith that coming together as a world will solve many of these issues, “We negotiated not as North-South, East-West, poor or rich, but as members of one humanity, with a common destiny,” said Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. With roughly one-seventh of the world’s population, 900 million people, still suffering from hunger, there is still a long way to go before reaching the 2015 goal at eradicating global poverty. But now, more than ever, are sure signs that these goals are building towards something incredibly important and inevitable – ending poverty.

– Jeffrey Scott Haley
Feature Writer

Sources: Deutsche Welle, allAfrica
Photo: Cloud In

Millennium Village Project
There are many ways to go about reducing and eventually ending world poverty. The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) has implemented several strategies that have proven to be effective at boosting economic independence in African villages. This is the “one village at a time” method. The pith of this method is agriculture reform.

The MVP works with African farmers to improve various aspects of agriculture techniques like what season to plant certain seeds and how to correctly use small scale irrigation, specifically a “gravity drip irrigation system” that is highly cost effective. Soil is also an important topic that farmers are educated about. They learn how to farm without stripping soil of vital nutrients, thus vastly increasing crop yields. Other aspects of soil health include organic farming, fertilizing, and soil conservation.

Education is a huge aspect of the Millennium Project. People working for the MVP train African farmers, and then these farmers can later educate other farmers about efficient agriculture methods. These farming organizations ensure that future generations will continue to produce higher crop yields. When farmers are successful, that means the entire village will flourish. The MVP encourages schools to provide locally grown, healthy foods for their students, especially young children.

Other key strategies being used around the world include: providing vaccines and building schools, shelters, wells, and medical clinics. These are some of the many approaches to help people lift themselves out of poverty. There is no one correct method; rather, it is often the combination of multiple techniques that proves to be the most effective. The Millennium Development Goals’ main objective is to end extreme global poverty by 2030 and with these many strategies will play a huge role in achieving this goal.

– Mary Penn

Source: Borgen Project
Photo: NY Times