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America's-poor
The Huffington Post has started exploring the lives of America’s poor in a novel way. Rather than reporting on them, it asks the poor themselves to write about their experiences. All their stories are consolidated under a page entitled “All Work and No Pay: False Promises of the American Economy” on the Huffington Post’s website. While many are from people who live under the poverty line, others are from those who earn well above it- and still struggle to make ends meet. Here are a couple of common themes in these stories:

1) You can work incredibly long hours for almost no money, but still look for more opportunities for extra hours. You are almost always exhausted, and leisure time becomes impossible.

2) Saving and planning for the long-term becomes very hard when you are living paycheck to paycheck. In addition, there’s a nagging fear of losing everything you have anyway. Disaster, often in the form of a simple unaffordable car crash, can be just around the corner.

3) The struggle of the “in-betweeners.” You work multiple jobs to make ends meet, but by doing so, earn too much to qualify for government assistance. This creates multiple problems. For instance, you are not eligible for day-care assistance for your children but are yourself so busy that it is difficult to look after them.

4) It can cost a lot of money just to keep your job or try and find a new one. Transportation and car maintenance costs are often unaffordable. A better job with longer-term prospects can be out of reach because it is simply too far away.

5) Even if you have high qualifications and lower your standards drastically by agreeing to work for minimum wage, it is still very difficult to find work. Many employers shun “overqualified” or older people, believing they will be more demanding.

6) You make shortsighted financial and health decisions, because having small pleasures from time to time makes life worth living. For instance, you might pick up smoking to relieve your stress, while choosing to ignore its long-term effects.

7) Investing in your future, such as going to school, can make your life more miserable. It adds to your stress and depression, and makes it harder to pay your bills. Crippling student debt has driven people towards a lifetime of debt.

8) It is difficult to socialize with friends because you are too busy and do not want to spend extra money.

9) You often avoid basic medical treatments, like going to the dentist. Even when you are experiencing something more serious, the tendency is to avoid going to the doctor for as long as possible.

10) Sometimes you just go hungry. Especially if you have kids and need to feed them instead.

11) Having kids is something that needs to be a decision that is very carefully examined. Partners often realize that they cannot afford children and give up the dream of having them.

Radhika Singh

Sources: Huffington Post 1, Huffington Post 2
Photo: Epic Times

Global Motherhood
The Huffington Post has partnered with Johnson & Johnson to create a new section within the Huffington Post called Global Motherhood. Global Motherhood focuses on the health and well-being of mothers and babies around the world, as well as how these mothers are caring for their children and families while creating a future for their community.

Global Motherhood goes beyond matters of physical health to address the full spectrum of issues affecting mothers and their babies. It specializes its focus on the dangers faced by pregnant women in underdeveloped countries, and the guilt and fear that accompany childbirth for many women. The program is particularly focused on the rights of mothers, and on maternal and infant health.

Global Motherhood not only provides a platform for women to share personal stories, but also connects readers with other women around the world. Additionally, it informs readers of some of the most innovative practices used around the world to take care of mothers and babies, and of course, those who care for them.

On the front page of Global Motherhood online, a wide variety of topics are featured including AIDS, child marriage, child mortality rates, world hunger and recovery from postpartum depression. This program unites mothers across the globe as they face similar plights and extend support through different circumstances.

A healthy world starts with healthy mothers. Mothers bring the future into the world, and it is vital for mothers to be healthy and happy in order to give birth to and raise healthy children. Global Motherhood lends a voice to the people and organizations that are making a difference and inspiring others, as well as those suffering in poverty or third-world countries who struggle to raise healthy children.

– Alaina Grote

Sources: The Huffington Post 1, The Huffington Post 2, The Huffington Post 3, Johnson & Johnson

Photo: Flickr

Toms Founder Responds Criticism Development
They’ve become a staple in the closets of many. The bright colors and eccentric patterns fill department store walls plastered with the signs “One for One.” TOMS shoes has become a well-known and very popular shoe brand over the years not only for the comfortable canvas slip-ons the company is known for, but also its promise to give back.

For every pair of TOMS shoes sold, the company gives away another pair to someone in need. This “One for One” philosophy has helped people throughout the developing world by providing them with footwear where they otherwise would not be able to afford such a luxury.

Despite its generous initiative, where the company has given 10 million pairs of shoes to children in need over the past seven years, many see TOMS’ do-good mission as a marketing ploy, rather than a genuine attempt at making a difference in the developing world.

In fact, because the company is for-profit instead of a nonprofit charity, the TOMS ‘One for One’ business model is purely just that—a tool for Western business expansion that undermines developing nations’ economies by not attacking the real roots of poverty. Instead, critics say that the company makes matters worse by undermining local footwear industries in the countries that receive the shoes.

TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie recently responded to criticism about his company’s motives as well as his own when he first created the brand.

“I didn’t come out thinking, ‘Hey, we’re going to solve the world’s problems. We’re focused on helping people that needed something that we can provide,” he said in an interview with the Huffington Post.

By providing children in the developing world with shoes, TOMS helps to promote education, as children in poorer countries are oftentimes required to wear shoes to attend school. Also the company helps to protect adult and children’s feet from cuts and infections which keeps them healthy.

The company also expanded its giving profile in 2011 to include eyewear, thus donating professional eye care treatment as well as eye glasses to people in the developing world in the hopes of decreasing the high amount of visual impairment in poorer countries.

Mycoskie also plans to take the company beyond shoes and eyewear hopefully by getting involved with micro finance initiatives, clean drinking water, education supplies, and hunger.

Recently, the brand has also promised to produce one-third of TOMS shoes in the countries where they are donated in order to create local employment.

However, Mycoskie has learned that no matter what he plans to do with TOMS, there will always be criticism.

“No matter what, you’re going to have someone who’s going to be critical. I invite those people to come on a trip and see the impact,” he said.

Elisha-Kim Desmangles

Sources: Huffington Post, TOMS
Photo: PhotoPin

impatient-optimists-blog-bill-gates
These top 10 global poverty blogs are some of the best of the best in addressing the issues, solutions, and concerns surrounding the global battle against extreme poverty.

1. The Borgen Project – Works with US Congressional leaders to improve the USAID response to the global poverty crisis; advocacy to secure crucial poverty-reducing legislation, mobilization and awareness campaigns making poverty a political priority. The blog addresses the impact of poverty from every angle, and highlights innovative and dynamic development successes.

2. The Impatient Optimist – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation blog features the work of the foundation’s grantees, partners, leadership, and staff, as well as other bloggers, to provide commentary and insight on the issues of poverty. Stories and updates from the people working every day to help alleviate poverty, help promote health, and to help every student in the United States realize his or her full potential through education.

3. The Huffington Post – The highly respected news agency developed their Impact blog with reputable contributors from around the world, renowned journalists, stories about celebrities and average people, domestic and global poverty concerns and innovations, and good-news-stories. Type in the search word “poverty” and find a vast archive of videos and articles covering poverty concerns.

4. The World Bank – “Working for a world free of poverty,” this blog is a forum for discussing development issues and provides open access to WB data. Open access to data is a key part of the WB’s commitment to sharing knowledge to improve people’s lives.  The Open Data Initiative believes that “statistics tell the story of people in developing countries, and can play an important part in helping to overcome poverty” – WB’s President, Robert Zoellick.

5. The United Nations Development Programme – Details the UNDP’s 6,000+ development projects and 8,000 outputs in 177 countries and territories worldwide; comprehensive, qualitative and timely information about how aid flows and its results. The blog is also part of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) to which UNDP is a signatory, advocating voluntary transparency aimed at making information about aid spending easier to access, understand and use.

6. The U.S. Department of State – Mission: to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community. Blogs.state.gov offers up to the minute news coverage of U.S. foreign policy information; their blog offers the opportunity for participants to discuss important foreign policy issues with senior Department officials. Blog.usaid.gov shows exactly what America is doing around the world to help reduce poverty and improve development.

7. InterAction – An alliance organization of more than 180 U.S. based non-governmental organizations (NGOs), working around the world. InterAction serves as a convener, thought leader and voice of their member community. Their blog represents the collective mobilization of its members in: international development, humanitarian aid, accountability and policy creation.

8. ONE – Is a global mobilization of over three million people, unifying to fight “the absurdity of extreme poverty.” Co-founder Bono is part of the group’s influential leadership team, joined by other political and humanitarian experts from around the world. Their blog aims to educate and facilitate the general public in direct action for poverty reduction, and subsequent issues resulting from poverty.

9. Oxfam America – “Working together to end poverty and injustice,” Oxfam America is a global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice and to develop long-term solutions for social change. The international Oxfam confederation works in more than 90 countries, and their blog is a comprehensive look at all political, economic, humanitarian angles of poverty issues.

10. Business Fights Poverty – The world’s largest network of business and development professionals, NGOs and academia all focused on fighting poverty through business. Their blog highlights how business can combat poverty, providing resources, methods and tools for business and thus economic development, showing impact and opportunities.

– Mary Purcell

Photo Source: Impatient Optimist