Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: The Subtle Face of Poverty

Current Mood: Awake despite a late night

Current Song: Walking on Air by Kerli (it's a very weird song)

As you know, today is Blog Action Day 2008. All blogs that are signed up at are taking part in the conversation on poverty. So I thought I would write a bit about what one of the most valuable lessons for people in my generation could be when it comes to the poverty issue.

As you know (or don't), I just finished a Master's degree in international studies. Most of my class, including myself, have great aspirations for solving problems of poverty around the world. We're of course, sorely tempted by those adverts on the television of happy looking Africans who are planting their farms or the South Americans who are happily investing away in their new indigenous crafts projects. Nothing wrong with that. There are of course, a tonne of good organisations that are doing their part in helping the world's most poor better their lot.

The one lesson I did learn about poverty is that we so often ignore our own problems and instead look outward into the world. My economics professor made us all acutely aware of the deplorable conditions that are facing First Nations people in this country. Many of them live in sub-standard housing where all the basics don't run: water, heating. Education doesn't meet the average Canadian rate. So then we have to question ourselves on why that really is.

I'm simultaneously disturbed and admiring of the new generation of youth who want to travel to developing countries and lend a hand. For those of you who live around me, you'll notice a Habitat for Humanity building complex not very far off. You'll also notice that the Food Bank is facing a major shortage and will probably not be able to serve many families during the holiday season. These are the subtle faces of poverty. They are the ones that don't show up on the television that often. They are the faces of poverty that are not exoticised. That doesn't mean that they are any less important.

So, what should we do? Well, before we buy our plane tickets to Masaka, Uganda, let's have a look at our own communities and try to make a difference here. We may be known as the developed world, but in some cases, we don't really live up to that name. I, for one, pledge to make more of a difference in my own community from now on. I haven't exactly been the most active. But I think it's time we have a good hard look at Canada and make as good an effort of looking inward, as we do outward.

To start making a difference, see the links below:

Canadian Association of Food Banks

Union Gospel Mission

Canadian Feed the Children