Donate by SavingThere are countless efforts around the globe working to improve living conditions for those in extreme poverty. While per capita, Americans are the biggest charitable givers on Earth, charitable contributions can be increased. By cutting back on everyday living expenses, it is possible to donate by saving money.

Alternatives to Buying Bottled Water

Drinking water is a healthy habit, but bottled water is costly and creates single-use plastic waste.

One way to donate by saving is buying a reusable water bottle. For instance, the reusable Dopper bottle donates 5 percent of every purchase to the Dopper Foundation, an organization working to improve water resources in Nepal.

Upon saving money on single-use bottles, the amount saved can be diverted to a charitable cause. The average American spends around $266 on disposable water bottles, which can add up to over $17,000 in a lifetime. Those savings could be donated to support the work of organizations like Water is Life which pledges to provide clean drinking water to a billion people by 2020.

Water is Life helps communities around the world gain access to clean water through many means, including filters and wells. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the organization sent filtration straws and portable filtration systems to the hardest-hit parts of the island. Currently, it is working on installing 40 solar-and-wind-powered water filtrations stations in the northwest part of the country. The stations are capable of providing 20,000 liters of drinking water a day.

Credit Card Fee Avoidance

A recent survey of 200 U.S. credit cards found that credit cards average 4.35 fees per card. Furthermore, every card in the survey charged at least one fee.

No-fee cash-back cards are available. Card issuers will also offer a cost break to customers with a long series of on-time payments by lowering their interest rates, waiving the very occasional late fee, or both.

Trading in a big-annual-fee card, asking for late waivers and lowering interest rates can save cardholders $100 – 200 per year. The amount saved is almost enough to fund a grant to a Kenyan or Ugandan entrepreneur through Village Enterprise, which can transform the lives of a family living in poverty.

Since its founding in 1987, Village Enterprise has trained more than 154,000 owners who have gone on to create 39,000 businesses. One such success story is Angela Adeke, a Ugandan woman who was denied the opportunity to attend school due to her family’s extreme poverty. After her own children were denied entry to school because they could not afford uniforms, Adeke took action. With the help of a $150 grant, she invested in fabric and sewing machines for her tailoring business. Adeke sewed her own children’s uniforms and made uniforms for more than 4,000 Ugandan children. She now trains disenfranchised young women to become tailors.

Household Maintenance

The average family spends $6,649 on home maintenance. From major repairs to even the price of lawn mowing, it all adds up. A recent survey from Homeadvisor shows that 72 percent of new home buyers are learning how to do their own repairs. Video tutorials are now available online for most projects, enabling families to save on expenses.

The savings can be donated to a charity like Heifer International, an organization that helps families help themselves. The organization has been active in 25 countries, helping more than 32 million families to overcome poverty and hunger. In Nepal, projects targeting women have contributed to improved gender equality. Nine out of 10 of the families in Nepal interviewed say they had increased their income as a result of Heifer International projects, and it is possible to donate by saving on expenses as manageable household maintenance.

Trimming the Food Bill

Most Americans spend nearly half of their monthly food budget on eating out. By preparing more meals at home and packing a lunch more often, these funds can be diverted to donations. A conservative estimate is that preparing one meal per week instead of eating out will save more than $800 per year. These savings can fight worldwide hunger when diverted to an organization like The Hunger Project (THP).

The Hunger Project works to end hunger through strategies that are sustainable, grassroots and women-centered. Mozambican citizen Moises Fenias Malhaule is an example of a THP success story: Malhaule joined THP education and microfinance programs, and in ten years, he has expanded his farm and paid for his children’s education. Malhaule has also taken many courses in development and construction and shared his knowledge with his community. Donations to organizations like this not only help individuals but often have ripple effects, making entire villages more resilient and self-sufficient.

Organizations like Water is Life, Village Enterprise, Heifer International and The Hunger Project are making a considerable impact in global poverty reduction, but their work relies on financial contributions.  While finding the extra money to donate can be challenging, with a few lifestyle tweaks, it is entirely possible to donate by saving money.

– Francesca Singer 
Photo: U.S. Air Force

Movies about HungerSince 1992, the number of undernourished individuals around the world has been nearly cut in half. Despite this progress, global hunger is still a deadly problem affecting many in developing countries. In recent years, several movies have used hunger as an important plot component. Whether they are Biography, Sci-Fi or Drama, these movies help raise awareness for the 13 percent of the global population that still struggles with undernutrition. Here are five movies about hunger:

  1. Slumdog Millionaire
    Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of a young man named Jamal as he progresses through the Indian game show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” Through flashbacks, Jamal recounts growing up as an orphan on the streets of Mumbai where he and his friends had to pull off elaborate schemes just to get enough money to survive.
  2. Interstellar
    Interstellar takes place in future where the world is plagued by food shortage and drought. Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a man who sets out into space in order to find a new planet for humans to inhabit. While trying to save his family and the human race, Cooper and his crew find more than they ever expected.
  3. The Hunger Games
    Panem is a land split into 12 districts ruled by a corrupt government. Every year, two children from each district are chosen to participate in a bloody competition called The Hunger Games as punishment from the government. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is from District 12, where the local population is forced to break the laws in order to supply her friends and family with food. Katniss volunteers to compete in The Hunger Games to save her sister, thus sparking her future as “The Mockingjay.”
  4. District 9
    Aliens arrive in South Africa looking for help, but after the dust settles, the South African government is responsible for hundreds of thousands of unruly aliens. The aliens are separated from humans and placed in slums where they must rummage through trash piles to find food and make shelters. When a government agent named Wikus is infected with a strange virus, he must make new allies in order to try and cure himself.
  5. The Pursuit of Happyness
    After his wife leaves him, Chris Gardner (Will Smith) and his son have to endure the ups and down of urban poverty. Even after Chris lands a promising internship, he must fight to provide food and shelter for his son.

While these movies about hunger remind viewers that hunger exists, they also show that hunger is a chief motivation factor for far more beyond curbing an appetite. Success, comfortable living and even the strength to live are directly related to the accessibility of food. The fight to provide food, the central plot element in the movies about hunger, is a very real experience for people all over the world.

Weston Northrop

Photo: Flickr

There are a plethora of popular fictional characters who live in poverty. From superheroes to kid cartoon characters, these characters’ living conditions are perceived by the audience in different ways.

In some aspects, poverty is obvious to the eyes of the viewer but the character lessens the importance of his living conditions because of the personality that these characters might have. On the other hand, poverty living conditions of some characters can be a crucial element for the character to develop.

In movies, some characters are able to escape poverty through different ways. Here are some of the most famous and poor movie characters that, despite their poverty conditions, give a positive impression to the viewers.

1. Pacha from The Emperor’s New Groove

In this movie, the character Pacha is portrayed as a Peruvian villager that ends up helping and mentoring his emperor, who is in trouble and is turned into a llama.

Pacha is a caring character with good leadership skills who helps emperor Kuzco overcome his troubles. Besides being a character with good qualities for the audience, Pacha also teaches Kuzco the value of small things, friendship and hard work.

2. The Weasleys from Harry Potter

The Weasleys are one of the biggest families shown in Harry Potter. They are distinguished by their family unity and their economical conditions since they are sometimes excluded due to their lack of money.

Yet their unity, sympathy, courage and funny personalities are characteristics that make these characters seen in a positive light by the audience.

3. Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Living with his parents and his four grandparents in a little wooden house, Charlie Bucket is extremely poor. However, he is one of the lucky kids who finds a golden ticket in a Wonka chocolate to enter Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Charlie’s personality and good education leads him to become Wonka’s successor. His good manners and the way he is compared to the spoiled rich kids presents Charlie’s personality positively to the audience.

4. Katniss Everdeen and her family from The Hunger Games

The heroine of the impoverished region of District 12, Katniss Everdeen is a character that, along with the other District 12 citizens, lives in poverty conditions with her mother and sister.

Katniss’ willingness to save her sister leads her to volunteer as a tribute to participate in the Hunger Games. Her strong, caring and brave personality helps her provide a better future for her mother and sister. The character’s devotion and bravery are seen as positive qualities in the viewer’s eyes.

5. El Chavo from El Chavo del 8

El Chavo is the principal character of the El Chavo del 8 Mexican television series. This character is an orphan kid living under poor conditions in a Mexican neighborhood.

The people living in the neighborhood accept El Chavo as part of their daily lives and even as a member of their families. The complete television series is a comedy that leaves the audience accepting El Chavo’s character in a positive manner.

– Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: Disney Wikia, The Harry Potter Lexicon, Roald Dahl, Shmoop, Chavode18
Photo: Wikia

Generations of young girls were eager to shoot a bow and arrow after reading The Hunger Games. Of all the characters, none aimed as precisely and mortally as female protagonist Katniss Everdeen.

Although it is not a method for battle or hunting in America, shooting a bow and arrow is still the weapon of choice for Wachiperi people in the Peruvian Andes.

Traditionally, the bow was designated for male use. For centuries, men used bows to snag monkeys, other mammals, fish, and birds. While men hunted, women gathered medicinal plants and performed household chores. Boys began training in archery and hunting at age five, while girls learned to help their mothers with cleaning and cooking.

Today, however, the traditional practice is evolving because of modern-day influences. Women and girls do not want to rely on men for food, and therefore, want to learn the ancient art of archery.

For the most part, the Wachiperi community supports this decision.

Sergio Pacheco, a skilled Wachiperi archer says, “The world is modernizing, and women are starting to want to use the bow. They say ‘We are just women in the family, so what happens when our father dies? We need to learn this to be able to take care of our families.’”

Pacheco spoke at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in June 2015. A skilled archer and traditional doctor amongst Wachiperi people, he shared his cultural knowledge, skills, and wisdom with the audience.

Pacheco explained how hunting has become more difficult due to loggers and miners, who have destroyed the natural habitat of former prey. Men are typically gone for longer days in search of game.

He also described the jaguars that often threaten the Wachiperi community. Twice, he has used bows and arrows to kill the animals.

In addition to discussing hunting practices, Pacheco sang healing songs—called esuwas—for the crowd. He says, “Pills hurt your body because they are chemicals. When I’m sick, I cure myself with only plants.”

Despite his persistence that traditional medical practices are better, he does not question the younger generations—male or female—when they ask to learn archery.

Watch out Katniss Everdeen, you might have some competition coming from Peru!

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Amazon Books, NPR, Smithsonian Institution
Photo: Smithsonian Institution

Global issues such as homelessness, hunger and addiction have long inspired captivating portrayals of poverty in film and television characters.


The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins depicts an alternate universe in which 12 districts are controlled by a single malevolent leader. Each year all twelve districts must offer up tributes to compete in the annual Hunger Games.

Most of the districts live in poverty with barely enough to eat while the rich citizens of the ‘capitol’ live in luxury and wealth. Hunger, desperation and violent leadership all contribute to the ultimate uprising of the districts in order to overthrow the capitol and evil President Snow.

It is not far- fetched to relate this alternate reality to that of a dictatorship or corrupt government of some foreign nation. There are leaders and factions that use violence to rule among citizens struggling with poverty and trying to make ends meet on less than two dollars a day.

Political scandals and power struggles invite more violence and instability to any group of people, and The Hunger Games is an example of a worst-case scenario when people living in poverty do not have good leadership, education and a stable economy.


“Bubbles,” The Wire

Another great example of fictional poverty on screen is the character “Bubbles” from the HBO drama series, The Wire. Bubbles is introduced to audiences as a homeless heroin addict. His story depicts how drug addiction can run rampant without help and ruin the lives and relationships of people around them.

The plotline of Bubbles ranges from problems with family to a cautious truce with the police as an informant. HBO uses Bubble’s charm and intelligence to challenge common poverty stereotypes like laziness and lack of motivation. The plot instead points to unforeseeable circumstances, like fighting a disease, rather than indulging in drugs for fun.

Stereotypes of the homeless, poor, addicted and other unfortunate souls, have persisted for many years. Such misperceptions of those struggling with poverty lead others to make unfair assumptions about the value and potential of these people. The more money one has, the more respect one gains and vice versa.


Harry Potter

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, famous all over the world for its magical universe and equally magical characters, shows how the stigma of poverty can affect even a wizarding family. The Weasley’s are known for having a large family but less money than most, and many of the children are often made fun of in school — even the adults are looked down on by their employers at the Ministry of Magic.

Film and television storylines and characters like these do more than just entertain; they send a message and encourage people to think more compassionately about one another. Addressing these issues makes audiences and critics alike re-think the way they see the the poor, the homeless and the addicted.

Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: Flavorwire, Scholastic, The Hunger Games
Photo: joshuaongys

The Hunger Games Global Poverty
For a young adult series, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games offers a surprisingly biting criticism of the status quo in the West. Her story is one of a privileged district in society that is altogether indifferent to the suffering going on outside its boundaries.  Although Collin disguises it with different names, she has not ventured far from our present reality of global poverty.

The Hunger Games is set in a dystopic future world, where citizens live in an area divided by districts. District One & Two are the wealthiest, and control the majority of the resources. As they spread further and further out, the regions become more impoverished. The heroine of the novel, Katniss Everdeen, is from the last, District 13, and relies on her wits, her will and a crude bow and arrow to support her family. Through its fantastical descriptions, outlandish characters and futuristic technology, Collins’ world manages to appear quite distinct from our own. Yet, in a thinly veiled criticism Collins has painted an unsettling portrait of ourselves and the world we live in.


The Hunger Games: A Lesson on Global Poverty


The parallel escapes many of the fans of the books, but those who live in District One are akin to the top percent in the world: they have enough to eat, access to clean water, safe homes and opportunities for betterment. For this percentage of the world, daily life is not a struggle: it is a thing to be enjoyed, to find happiness and meaning, to indulge in fads and fancies and fashion. Much like the District One in the books, the humans in District One seem bizarre and alien in comparison to those struggling on the fringes. They have none of the same concerns and seem largely unaware of the brutal reality that exists just beyond their borders.

The Hunger Games offers an uncomfortable mirror to our own world. In our daily lives, we often obsess about trivialities: we track celebrities, dedicate time to watching who wore what dress, aim to buy smartphones and cars while the vast majority of the world struggles to scrape a living out of the most dire circumstances.

As audiences, we automatically condemn District One; without even meeting them, we judge everyone in it and see the plot’s revolution as inevitable and cheer for Katniss. In reality, however, we are not quite as benevolent. We are quick to make excuses to preserve self-interest. Poverty and the state of the world do not often rank among our daily concerns, as much as what to wear and what people think of us. On the national scale, US foreign aid consists of less than 1% of the budget; this covers everything from healthcare to military aid to food assistance.

The Hunger Games has captivated a number of readers in the United States; and yet, for some, Collins has posed a very uncomfortable and very important question – what makes us so different from District One?

– Farahnaz Mohammed


Upon winning an Oscar for her leading role in the film “Silver Linings Playbook”, Jennifer Lawrence fell as she ascended the stairs. While potentially embarrassing for anyone, Lawrence continued without a pause. Her charming demeanor and genuine personality were shining, so no one made any fuss about the incident. The actress’s charm is obviously authentic as Jennifer Lawrence has a proven history of charitable involvement for good causes.

While she was part of the cast in “The Hunger Games”, she and other co-stars partnered with the UN World Food Program (WFP) to raise money and awareness around the issues of global poverty and hunger. The movie itself deals with food scarcity and its subsequent social effects so the tie-in was natural.

“This partnership will help us spread the word that hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem,” said Nancy Roman, Director of Communications of WFP. WFP is the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.

Jennifer Lawrence also supports Feeding America and The Thirst Project, both non-profit organizations helping people overcome issues of poverty and food/water access.

Unlike Hunger Games, or global food shortages, the US does have enough food to feed everyone, it is just a matter of getting it to the millions of low-income people who need it. This is the concern of Feeding America.

– Mary Purcell

Video: Youtube