Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Poverty: The fight back

Poverty is a dreadful enemy. It tortures its victims, leaving them hungry, cold and downtrodden. It destroys their lives and their hopes and dreams, ravages childhood and, finally, kills.

Poverty kills more people than war and natural disaster combined. And it does so with our permission. When we allow people to work long hours in gruelling conditions for less than a living wage, we feed poverty. When we allow children to beg on the streets or be forced into prostitution rather than ensure they have the education they need, we let poverty grow. When we put profit above the wellbeing of those living with treatable diseases, we give poverty power over us all.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Poverty is an enemy that can be beaten, but it takes effort and will, and teamwork. Those living under its heel cannot fight free alone.

World In Need uses myriad weapons in this battle. Our child sponsorship programme ensures children are able to go to school and gain the education that can lead them to good careers with decent salaries. By improving living standards and teaching basic hygiene, we help eradicate common diseases which should not be killers in the twenty first century. Through partnership with those in the front line we enable them to increase both their incomes and their hope.

For example, a family that owns chickens not only has a source of food for themselves, but they can take surplus eggs to market and sell them, giving them money to buy other essentials. A man with a bicycle can generate income by offering taxi services. Palm trees yield palm oil which can be sold to provide income for whole communities.

This year, World In Need is offering these items, among others, as part of our Alternative Christmas Gifts. These are gifts you buy for people in developing countries, on behalf of a friend or relative, thereby spreading the joy of Christmas and, at the same time, pushing the front line a little further back.

Together, this is a war we can win.

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