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Ending Extreme Poverty Through Teaching Self Sustenance
Amanda Livingston (NJ)

According to the World Bank in 2005, those in extreme poverty are surviving on less than $1.25USD per day. Annually, that is only $456.25 for food, clean water, health care, and a safe place to live. Sadly, those most affected by extreme poverty are children who become malnourished and susceptible to sickness and disease without access to even the most basic forms of health care.

Ideally, I do believe it is possible to end extreme poverty in thirty years. While it is a relatively short amount of time for such a large scale mission, thirty years is enough for one, if not two, generations to mature. If enabled, parents can pass on trades, knowledge and ideas to their children who, in turn, can expand upon this acquired foundation during their adult life and raise their children to do the same. Over the past 11 years the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has steadily decreased. Since underdeveloped countries hold the highest birth rate percentages and the highest percent of individuals under the extreme poverty line, one can conclude that the regions most stricken by poverty are already the ones seeing the largest percentage of decline. Accordingly, there is always hope for even the most affected areas, however it is up to those who are blessed in that way to take action and commit their lives for the benefit of those in need. Should the world population achieve this, there would be no stomach left empty at the end of the day.

Before any significant material results however, a radical transformation of the modern mindset is necessary, beginning with our world leaders. This would require ambitions for both personal and communal gains to be exchanged for ones that benefit the citizens who are truly in need. Rather than seeking political, corporate or social advancements, energy is directed toward ensuring the welfare of those still living in extreme poverty by implementing supplemental housing and subsidies for organizations such as the Red Cross. The book of Luke tells us “the man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” Luke 3:11

We will not, however, eradicate poverty by blindly throwing money at the poor. Doing so will create dependency on government and organization handouts rather than being self-sustainable. Instead, efforts will be made to teach victims of poverty how to provide for themselves after being helped back on their feet. Financially responsible and trustworthy organizations funded by the political and corporate leaders of the world should be responsible for sending out volunteers and workers to teach citizens farming, well building, basic sanitary practices, literacy, and other trades, allowing them to develop the skills to survive and improve their communities. Local farms and wells would provide food and water even in areas where money is scarce. Learned trades, such as carpentry, construction, tailoring, even such businesses as internet café management, create an income for individuals, allowing for the purchase of medication, child education, and permanent housing.

Additionally, continued local sustainability is only possible if efforts are made to reduce international export. This would permit locals to buy fresh foods at a much lower cost while also increasing the variety of nutrients available. Keeping exports to a minimum generates a demand for local farmers, craftsmen and professionals, creating employment opportunities close to home. The reduction of international shipping will also limit the invasion of harmful pests, lessening the use of preservatives, pesticides and other chemicals which can be a threat to the health of consumers and the environment. Limiting reliance on foreign products forces locals to provide a wider variety of goods themselves, creating a cleaner, safer, self-sustaining community.

The first generation to successfully become self-sufficient would have to pass on the knowledge and values acquired to the next generation in order for them to have food, water, and the basic necessities to live. Within a short time, children, who would not previously have the chance, could get a fuller education- allowing them the opportunity to become doctors, teachers, engineers, scientists or future leaders- continuing the process of improving struggling areas and ridding extreme poverty once and for all.

While I do believe there is a possibility to eradicate extreme poverty in such a short amount of time, realistically this will never happen without initially altering the minds and hearts of mankind. We can achieve huge technological advances, we can increase our wealth momentarily, but unless we sincerely love our fellow man as ourselves there will always be poverty in the world. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17. As a Christian, I am called to love and care for all people, regardless of their income or social status. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39. Without Jesus Christ, humanity can never end poverty, never end war, hate and destruction. Only through Him can we accomplish such feats and have true freedom and justice for all mankind.

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Nuala Mgala

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