• Does it ever get better?

    Posted by Irena

    22 April, 2013

    I can still remember the day I saw my first child sponsorship commercial, exposing me to the harsh realities of poverty, many years ago. To this day, I can recall the overwhelming sadness I felt as I first learned of the injustices taking place in other parts of the world. I had heard my mother talk about the starving kids in Africa, usually while trying to convince me to eat my own food. I even possibly knew a little bit about the conditions of developing nations in the Asia Pacific and South America, thanks to all five of my primary school years. However, this was the first time I had really and deeply understood that life was not fair and that the rest of the world did not look like my clean and cosy suburb in middle-class America. I was determined to do something to help—well, as soon as I could get a job.

    Fast forward five years or so to the day I finally hold my first pay check in my hand. I want to make a difference, this hasn’t changed, but is giving what little I have to a non-profit the way to do it? Five years later, the same commercial plays three times a day and now ten other commercials vie for my heartstrings. Has nothing changed? Did none of the resources donated thus far make a difference? Poverty to me seemed like an insatiable injustice that I would never be able to make a dent in.

    Overwhelmed by the prospect of a fight against poverty, and hugely desensitized to the negative stories and statistics I kept on hearing, I invested my mind and money elsewhere.

    Years later, I heard something that changed everything:

    Since 1990, two billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty and the proportion living below the absolute poverty line has halved.

    Extreme poverty has been halved in my lifetime? Why have I never heard this before?

     

     

     

     

    And then this:

     

    More children are surviving past their 5th birthdays than ever before, bringing annual deaths of children under five years old from 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.

    That’s 14,000 fewer children dying each day than 20 years ago!

     

     

     

     

     

    It’s safe to say, immense progress is being made and poverty is being eradicated in communities all over the world! The stories of progress have changed my perspective completely. Where negative stories and statistics had only left me discouraged before, I now have hope for the future of developing nations. Perhaps I will see poverty eradicated in my lifetime! Perhaps the little I can give will actually make a big difference for generations to come!

    Undoubtedly, the reason I continue to hear heartbreaking stories, even in the midst of such progress, is because there are still many others living in poverty that are looking for a way out of the perpetual cycle they are entrenched in. When I consider the great need that is still there, I am still deeply grieved, as I should be, by the terrible injustices of our day. But now, I am also encouraged by the hope that I do not labour in vain and the fruit of said labour is becoming quite evident!

    Does my monthly donation to a non-profit really make a difference? Does my small voice, calling on my politicians to commit to ‘Halve Poverty by 2015,’ really get heard?

    I’m more convinced than ever that the people (that’s me and you!) have the power. I pray that we would feel the weight of our responsibility to be good stewards of our resources and influence. We are not called to end poverty on our own, as I once supposed, but if we can just do our own part, then we can be sure others are as well, and that, together, we are already making a massive difference.

    Written by Irena Sagan, Education and Resource Intern