The answer to ending poverty? Education. Ours and theirs.

Poverty2 Today is Blog Action Day ’08 — the one day a year that bloggers unite on a single topic.  We hope to raise awareness, initiate action and shake the web.

This year’s topic — poverty.

Here’s the truth, if we’re willing to be honest with each other. 

Most of us don’t think about poverty every day.  Because we don’t have to.  Sure, we might sponsor a child in a poverty-stricken country or donate canned goods to our local food shelter.   We bring old coats and mittens to church every winter for the homeless. 

But then we stop for brunch on our way home from church and poverty is the furthest thing from our minds.

While all of those acts are kind and serve to meet an immediate need — we fill a belly or warm hands — they don’t actually address the problem.  As long as people are shackled to poverty, they don’t have the tools to break free.  They are reliant on us to continue to put bandages on their problem.

My friend Laura Hecht tells me that if we could lift people from illiteracy, we could take a big bite out of poverty.

In educating myself to write this post, I also discovered the End Poverty 2015 organization.  They’ve identified 8 major goals that would make it possible for us to be the generation that ends poverty forever.  Not surprising, universal education is one of their core tenants.

I don’t even begin to pretend I have the answers.  But I do know today is the day for asking ourselves the tough questions. 

We can’t help educate the world until we begin to educate ourselves.

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14 comments on “The answer to ending poverty? Education. Ours and theirs.

  1. Drew, thank you. This is such a great point.

    We hope that millions wake up in a few hours to the reality that is poverty on this earth and the stark responsibility we all have to teach ourselves and lift ourselves out of it as a collective.

  2. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew

    When – 2.5 years ago already – wrote and published my first (and still only) business novel I decided to donate part of the profit to a not very well-know charity that build school libraries all over the world and fills it with books: RoomtoRead
    http://www.roomtoread.org/programs/libraries.html

    I lover reading and know how much richer a life can become by being able to ‘explore’ the world through books. It is a form – a great form – a educating.

    Karin H. (Keep It simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  3. Laura says:

    Universities around the world are giving free access to their course materials. At the Open University we hope that by reducing the cost barrier more people can access education online through our OpenLearn website – http://www.open.ac.uk/openlearn
    Of course this is just one step and it won’t reach everyone or be appropriate for everyone, but we all hope it may transform some people’s lives.
    Laura

  4. Gavin Heaton says:

    This is why I loved the potential of OLPC. And why I was so disappointed that politics and/or lack of consultation got in the way of a truly transformational situation.

    But there are many other good initiatives … and Kiva is fantastic.

  5. Ellen Weber says:

    Thanks Drew, it’s so doable when we take it on together and create action plans to build together! You are right about the problem that remains furthest from our minds! It doesn’t have to be that way, and thanks for that concrete reminder!

  6. Hi Drew,

    Great post. Education is critical. Mario Vargas Llosa once said that the most important thing that every happened to him was when he was five years old: he learned to read.

    Best,
    Daria

  7. Easton,

    Awareness is the first step. The question is…what do we do next? I wonder if a natural extension of Blog Action Day is to have some sort of collective call to action.

    Something each blogger could encourage his/her readers to do after they read the post?

    Drew

  8. Karin,

    How cool of you to do that. I think you are right — reading is one of the major cornerstones to learning. I’ve always thought that if we could give every child a love of reading and access to books — it would be amazing.

    Sounds like the charity you chose to support is working towards doing just that.

    Drew

  9. Laura,

    Thank you very much for sharing that link and the resources. I think part of the problem is that some people are still looking for a “universal” solution when there probably isn’t one.

    I think it takes each of us doing all that we can (as you are doing at Open University) with what we have to offer.

    If everyone does a little, it could add up to a lot in a hurry.

    Drew

  10. Gavin,

    When govts get involved or it becomes too political — efforts always seem to stall. But when ordinary people unite, amazing things happen.

    Maybe that’s the trick. To not ask for help and just let the average joe and jane make it happen.

    Drew

  11. Ellen,

    I think that’s the trick. Moving from shaking our head about the problem to actually coming together and doing something. Something that will last and isn’t a band-aid on the problem.

    As I said to Gavin, once it becomes political it almost always becomes ineffective. The trick is getting something started ourselves, I think.

    Drew

  12. Daria,

    I couldn’t agree more. The power and passions we can discover and capture from books still makes me stop in my tracks sometimes.

    I am convinced that much of my adult success is a result of my early love of reading.

    Drew

  13. Laura Hecht says:

    Drew,
    If education is indeed power, you have given us more power to make an impact toward eradicating poverty through literacy. Educating ourselves will make us all more equipped to know how to help the underdeveloped nations.

    The heavy laden concept of poverty is consuming, but if we all focus on our special gifts and passions while joining together with like-minded people to do our part, we can make a huge impact in the world. Poverty deals with the economic, health, environmental, educational, spiritual, and social components of those affected by its grasp. My advice to your readers is, “Find what moves you, find others who share that goal, and do something good for someone else.”

    As you well know, my passion is education. With statistics like this:

    “Children under age 18 make up 49 percent of the population of the world’s least developed countries, compared with 21 percent of the population of the world’s industrialized nations,”

    It makes sense to me to bring literacy to children so they can impact their world where they live.

    Sorry if I’m going on and on. Thanks for the link in your post. We are like-minded and I thank God that he has brought you to my life. You are a friend and a mentor.

    Laura Hecht

  14. Laura,

    I learn more from you every day! Thanks for sharing your passion with all of us.

    “It makes sense to me to bring literacy to children so they can impact their world where they live.”

    Amen.

    Drew

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