So I have not yet used this blog as an outlet for things I feel strongly about or organizations I support, but I wanted to take a moment to change all that (what's life if there isn't a little drama?). I think so often we all get wrapped up in our 'happy world' that it is hard to think about what is going on outside of our little bubble. I am just as guilty as the next at the "Whoa is me" complaints about work, family life, or having to move yet again, but in all honesty folks, we have it made. If you are able to read this blog post alone that means you have access to a computer, which is only a dream for some areas around the world. So I wanted to take a minute and reflect on just how blessed we are and propose a way to lend a helping hand.
(As an aside, I started this post about a week ago and have been editing and tweaking it, but last night I watched the movie "Mary and Martha" with my mom--not the happiest Mother's day flick but it was an amazing story--and so after seeing the film, I felt the time had come to post this sucker.)
So I have sponsored a child through World Vision for about 7 years now. It was actually through a chance encounter that this even came about. I was with my uncle at a bluegrass concert to see The Isaacs perform and during their performance they talked about their work with World Vision and showed a brief video about the work that was going on throughout the world. I felt heartbroken and knew back then that it would be tight for me to monthly support a child, what with a mortgage and my first real job out of college, but I figured there were ways that I could pinch pennies to come up with the $35 a month. So after the concert, I went to the foyer and hand picked my little guy from the names listed. I was excited to have a visual image of someone's life that I was going to be able to help change. It is a powerful thing...CHANGE! So I got to work, writing a letter to little Ernest and was overjoyed with what I was going to say until I began the letter, it was only then when I paused in my tracks. How can I tell this little guy about the wonders of my life when things like clean water, education, and even a simply toy are probably only dreams to him. It was harder than I anticipated, but I told him about my family and about my dog and about the weather and sealed the envelope to head his way. It felt good! It felt real good to know that instead of wasting that $35 each month on clothes or caramel apple ciders (sorry I do not drink coffee) or a new CD, that it was going to better the life of a little boy across the world.
So why does this matter?
Well allow me to tell you! Each quarter I get a magazine from World Vision, talking about what their programs are doing, highlighting relationships between sponsors and their child, and talking about what more can/needs to be done. This month one page stood out to me. It was a page about vaccinations, and why it stood out to me, I don't know. Maybe because it is something so simply in the U.S.: you have a child and at your 6 month check-up (or whatever, bear with me, I don't have any kids), they get vaccinated. It is not second guessed, it is not out of the ordinary, it is pretty much a guarantee. Which is why diseases like smallpox and polio no longer even exist in the United States. It is all because of vaccinations.
Here are a few statistics for you to ponder:
* About 20% of the world's tuberculosis infections are in India (approximately 2 million cases annually), where as many as 320,000 people die each year from the infection.
* Through targeted programs, Malaria mortality rates have fallen by 26% between 2000 and 2010, meaning approximately 1.1 million malaria deaths were averted. This is in large part to intervention efforts (mosquito nets, etc), but the malaria control is still below funding to meet global targets and this disease is one that is solidly linked to poverty.
* Dengue is the world's fastest spreading tropical disease, infecting 50 million people annually in more than 125 countries. This disease is transmitted through mosquito bites and is closely linked to natural disasters like flooding.
* Cholera, a disease that has not existed in many countries for years (Haiti since 1960 and Cuba for 130 years), has come back with vengeance after the earthquake three years ago. The unsanitary and crowded conditions of encampments have killed 7,750 people in Haiti since October 2010.
* Worldwide 22.4 million children failed to receive the Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DPT) vaccines, with more than 12 million of those children living in India (32% of children fail to receive all doses), Nigeria (14% of children fail to receive all doses), and Indonesia (7%).
* A glimmer of hope: in 2012, there were just 218 cases of polio worldwide. This represents a 60% reduction from 2011. This decline has been attributed to the global eradication efforts which have distributed 2 billion doses of vaccine to 429 million children last year alone. Currently Polio cases have only been reported in 5 countries worldwide: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Chad, and Niger.
***facts and figures found in World Vision Quarterly report***
What can you do?
Well I am glad you asked! There are so many programs set up to help kids and families around the world and I do not claim to be an expert, but here are just a few ways you can get involved:
* Sponsor a child: for $35 a month you can provide education, nutritious food, improved health care and hygiene and help the child's family strive for self-sufficiency.
* Give a gift: world vision allows for one-time gifts of animals (a goat for instance provides milk and eventually meat for a meal), clothing, a hope kit for a child coming out of sex trafficking trade, medications or other necessities
* Provide a Micro-loan: provide small loans to empower self-sufficiency
* Make a donation to an area in need: a one-time dollar amount donation to an area that is in dire need.
To put this in perspective:
* Instead of getting a new shirt for $18, you can provide a family with bed nets (this helps to prevent mosquito bites which spread malaria)
* Instead of two movie tickets for $25, you can provide a family with 2 chickens (which will provide eggs and eventually meat to feed the family)
* Instead of two meals out for $35, you can provide $350 (because of corporations sponsorship programs) worth of new toys which helps children nurture their imagination or $350 worth of medications
* Instead of that new dress for $75, you can provide a goat for a family in need
* Instead of a new outfit for $200, you can provide a foot powered pump for clean water
* Instead of that weekend away for $420 you can can provide sponsorship for one child for a year.
Note: There are so many great organizations out there that can help, World Vision is just the one I chose.