Today thousands of bloggers are joining the call to action to raise awareness about poverty. Thankfully, I have been blessed and never have had to deal with wondering where my next meal is coming from or if the roof of my home will keep the rain out or worry about suffocating in my shack because my makeshift oven is proliferating the air with noxious fumes. But these are sights that I have seen upclose and personal. When I lived in South Africa there were many times that I was confronted by the abject poverty that people lived in. And even more powerful was the great divide between the haves and have nots. At one point I lived a mere 2 miles from one of the worst townships in Johannesburg and when I started working in a posh suburb I had to travel through the township to get to work.
There are many stories of international poverty and I am sure the images are clear in your mind -starving children, shacks in shanty towns but I want to focus on poverty here in the United States. Did you know that poverty breeds poverty and the cycle can be never ending unless intervention takes place? Time and time again we hear of people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and encouraging others to do the same but what if you don't own a pair of boots?
In my opinion education is key for those individuals living in poverty. But many times the school systems in improverished areas are stymied by the lack of funds to support a worthwhile education. Perhaps the support system does not exist. As an AmeriCorp volunteer in one of the worst public schools in Atlanta I heard the voices of children that were more concerned about survival than their education. One time the school was on lockdown because an armed group of teens were outside of the school waiting to harm one of my female students.
There are many programs that are working on poverty and education in the United States. There are a couple Reach Out and Read - an early literacy program where pediatricians "prescribe a book" and the Donors Choose for Public School Education that I am personally involved in.
Today I compel you to think about poverty and how you might make a difference. Perhaps you will donate to My Bloggers Challenge for Public Education - I chose the 3 programs in the Atlanta Public School system that were in the most impoverished areas. Perhaps you can donate time or money to programs like Reach Out and Read. You could also simply write a post today about poverty.
Of course there are numerous other options and you can find something that resonates with you. But please, do something! The children living in poverty here in the United States are depending on you.