Poverty: The Debate
"We should donate less money to the third World; we already have enough problems at home" - the Debate
Money is no object...is it?
Money: the biggest problem in the world. We need more money than we have, and what are the consequences of that? Stress. Conflicts. Famine. Bad hygiene. Illness. Death. But the most evidence of this is happening in third World countries like Africa. They starve, they die. That's the routine. They need our help. We want to help them. But can we?
Problems at home
It is true that we do already have many problems at home. We need money for electricity that not all of us can pay for and some of us build up debts. We have to pay the bills, though, because we need electricity to live (or so we think). Electricity powers our lights, central heating, cookers, vacuum cleaners, . And for us, when our electricity is cut, we despair - "Ah! The elec.'s gone off! I'll just have to wait until it comes back on to do anything..." - but when comparing ourselves to those in the third world, we don't have problems at all.
So you think you've got problems?
They sleep on gristly concrete while we have a soft, warm bed; they eat whatever crumbs they can find - no matter how old, dirty or unhealthy, at the end of the day, it's still food - and we have a steaming hot Sunday roast on a plate in front of us; they wash and drink from the water as the same place they use as their sewer; we turn a tap and water comes gushing out, or press a button and the toilet flushes. We are so lucky. They aren't...and we are the people who can help.
AIDS = Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome = A disease of the human immune system caused by the HIV virus (Human Iimmunodeficiency Virus). It has no cure and is almost always fatal; an estimated 33.2 million people have the virus worldwide, including 330,000 children (AIDS can be passed on to the children during pregnancy if the mother is carrying the virus).
Cholera = A water related disease, caused by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. Fatality rates are 5% of total cases in Africa, and less than 1% elsewhere.
Malnutrition = the insufficient, excessive or imbalanced consumption of nutrients. It causes the stomach to swell to the size of a balloon. Malnutrition is the biggest cause of child mortality in Africa. The only prevention is to provide them with a supply of edible food and drinkable water.
And to make matters worse, there are no available doctors or required treatments in Africa. But if we give our money, we can improve their quality of life. And if we can afford to buy a nice dress for a Saturday night out, surely we can afford to give a few pounds a month to save a life, can't we?
Floods, hurricanes, Earthquakes, Tornadoes, tsunamis...we have all lived to have seen what all of these things can do. They destroy homes. They devastate lives. They kill. And once the damage has been done, third world countries don't have the money or the means to deal with it. Once again, they turn to us for help. Their lives have just been ruined. It's the least we can do. Donate. Every little helps in the long-run.
Fair trade is exactly what it says it is: trade that's fair. We buy bananas, for example, which have been imported from over seas and hand picked by the very people I have been talking about - those who sleep on concrete floors - who work over 18 hours a day and sometimes get paid less than 50p at the end of it all, only to go home, sleep uncomfortably for 3 or so hours and start it all again the next day. It's a form of torture. All humans are the same; all humans are equal; this isn't fair.
Fair trade ensures that the workers are treated fairly, work in good conditions and get better pay for what they do. Their hours aren't as painstakingly long, either. Fair trade products do cost slightly more, but after everything they have to put up with, it's all little bit of what they deserve.
"We should donate less money to the third World; we already have enough problems at home"
No. We shouldn't. No. We don't. They need us. So come on, let's help them out.
By Daniella Wood