Circle Oct. 19 on your calendar: The United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The focus this year: Child poverty.
Of course, you can circle the date until you’re blue in the face and it won’t eradicate poverty.
Sometimes it seems nothing works: You can line up all the Bob Geldofs and Bonos until they reach the moon, and there are still, according to the UN, 1.02 billion people in the world who go to bed hungry every night: 24,000 children a day die of hunger-related diseases — one every 3.6 seconds.
Here in B.C., we have the highest rates of poverty and child poverty in the country. A half-million British Columbians fall below the line.
I’m probably not much different than you. When I see these grim statistics, I wince and wonder what to do. And then I get busy and forget. Well, not completely — at Christmas I’ve stopped sending wine and fruit baskets to clients and now send Oxfam Unwrapped gifts, donations that go to alleviate poverty in some of the poorest places on Earth.
But I have to admit the numbers make me want to weep. Every word I write, another kid dies … what good are words?
It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s also easy to get angry. What are we doing spending $6 billion on bobsled games when we have the highest rate of child poverty in the country?
This is not productive thinking. Poverty and need have dug in and won’t loosen their grip.
Poverty and need don’t mind when we get discouraged — it makes their job easier.
Which is why it’s important to circle the date. But don’t stop there. On Oct. 19, buy a donkey, donate to the food bank, or send Bono an encouraging email, donation attached.
And whatever you do, never forget what happens every 3.6 seconds.