Now that we're thinking and talking about poverty, it's time to do something. I sometimes find myself trapped in a cycle of researching and discussing, unable or unwilling to break out of my comfort zone and take action. Since returning from the Equality Ride, I have been intentional about finding ways to take action--and then following through. Here are some ways that you can help address poverty in our world.
In order to be an effective advocate and ally, I need to understand what I'm dealing with. I need faces, names, and experiences to ground what might otherwise become abstractions. While "poverty" is a macro-concern, there are families and children, parents and neighbors, who have stories. This is more than an issue to manage, it is lives to support. World Vision Australia put together an excellent resource, appropriately titled Learn About Poverty. In addition to information about poverty, there's also concrete ways that you can get involved:
It is easy for me to think of people living in poverty as victims who need to be rescued. When I understand them as potential partners, everything changes. I don't come alongside people living in poverty out of guilt, shame, or even pride; but rather to learn and grow. As you know, I've started investing in small-business owners by micro-lending through Kiva. That's one way!
You can also sponsor a child through World Vision. This program puts a name, a face, and an experience on global poverty and--I think--enriches the sponsor just as much as the sponsored.
My friend Dave O'Brien (director of Equality U) works for an organization called Causecast which is a place to explore issues while connecting with others who want to make a difference. Surf their site to find life-changing causes which you can support, network with like-minded others, and sound off about what you care about. Charity:Water works to bring life-saving water wells to communities in developing nations.
Tell us what you care about and how you're making a difference. No seriously, leave a comment. Knowing that others are out there makes it easier for me to get motivated. Communication is crucial.
Blog Action Day is about bringing together a chorus of voices together in unison. Together, we are taking poverty awareness to a new level. But what about tomorrow? What will rush in to fill the void? I propose, action. Tomorrow is World Food Day, visit World Vision's World Food Day section to find out how you can get involved. From prayer, to one-time donations, and to child sponsorship, you can take what you've learned during Blog Action Day and put it into action on World Food Day. Come back tomorrow and share what you've done!
"You can do no great things, only small things with great love." What am I leaving out? What will we do today--and tomorrow, and the next day!--to address poverty in our communities and in our world. How will we interrupt cycles which create and sustain poverty? How will we support those working to climb out of poverty? How will we learn from and collaborate with people in poverty? How will we bring the reality of poverty to the public consciousness? Let's start dreaming and see what takes shape!