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Posts Tagged ‘Poverty’

Written by: Maria Dieci

National security threats have changed face drastically over the course of the past few decades, and have become infinitely more frightening, invisible, and unpredictable.  Lawless lands, where conflicting groups vie for power, are the most dangerous threats to national security.  Violent, extremist groups – such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban – threaten both US security and the stability of the countries they infest.  What makes these threats so difficult to isolate and defuse is that they do not operate in an organized manner and they threaten their own people with little opposition.  Further, weakened states fail to provide their citizens with protection from terrorist groups because of fragile or inexistent infrastructure.

According to a United Nations estimate, 4 billion people live outside of the protection of the law.  These people may not even know what basic rights they have, let alone if they are being violated.  In many disorganized states, there is no effective mechanism to control corruption, greed, and exploitation.  Further, while some of these states are signatory to United Nations Human Rights Agreements, they have no matching legislation and no effective public justice system to protect the poor.  Those in power are unchallenged, and can strip the poor of any foreign assistance they receive.  As much as 85% of foreign aid never reaches those for whom it is intended, reveals a World Bank study.  Could half a century of development work have been done in vain?

YOUTH ARE A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE SOLUTION

Corruption, violence, and injustice are common in failing states, delivering crippling blows to the most vulnerable sectors of the population: the poor, women, and children.  Education and healthcare are scarce, and the youth of these countries have very few opportunities.  Without opportunity, there is little hope for the future.  Feeling hopeless youth are a vulnerable target of terrorist organizations that offer food for their families, security, acceptance, and purpose in exchange for loyalty.

This is why creating opportunity for children is so important and why human rights groups have made it their mission to provide hope for the world’s youth.  Children equipped with education, adequate healthcare, and prospects for the future are more stable.  They are also less likely be recruited by terrorists and are poised to strengthen and rebuild their countries.  Youth must be given opportunities to learn, harvest dreams for themselves, and be a positive force in their countries.

Regardless of political belief, those who are interested in national security have a vested interest in human rights, and those who are interested in human rights have a vested interest in national security.  Development must happen on the ground level with the empowerment and education of youth and the establishment and safeguarding of human rights.  It must also happen on the national level with the development of infrastructure, the creation of public justice systems and the restoration of political stability.  Only then can a weakened state be strengthened and rebuilt in order to champion human rights, offer hope for the future, and, as a consequence, achieve national and international security.


Return to the Our Global Victory homepage to see how you can become involved in providing youth with opportunity and hope for the future.

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By: Maria Dieci

Doctors without Borders (MSF) and VII Photo agency partnered to document and show the world the neglected and mostly invisible crisis of childhood malnutrition in a multimedia exhibit in New York City.  The exhibit, Starved for Attention, marries video footage and photography from some of the most accomplished human rights photojournalists to create haunting and powerful collages of various malnutrition “hotspots” — Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the USA.

The Brooklyn based exhibit is minimalist: the main room is a little too big, a little too bare…a visitor walks in and immediately feels slight discomfort, obviously the intended reaction.  The photos and videos are projected from several television screens, mounted on sleek white free-standing panels.  The footage is soundless, except for two stations where one can choose to turn on the accompanying documentary with a remote control.  It is powerful and uncomfortable to see a steady stream of lifeless eyes, emaciated bodies, and hopeless situations.

A GLOBAL TRAGEDY

At any given time 195,000 children are plagued by malnutrition worldwide.  About 80% of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  According to MSF, malnutrition kills at least one third of the 8 million children under the age of five who die each year.  The root cause is largely poverty: many families simply cannot afford nutrient-rich foods. Families struggle to survive on simple and nutrient poor diets of porridges made with whatever local cereals are available.  Maize, rice, sorghum and millet are often staples in these areas.

Mothers are not ignorant of what is happening: they watch their children slowly waste away before their eyes.  There is nothing that they can do besides give up their own food for their children, which they do.  In the exhibit, one desperate mother revealed that she would regularly give her rations to her hungry children; she only needed to eat once a week to stay alive.  But this is not nearly enough.  Mothers should not have to watch their children die, helpless to save them.

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

Every one of these deaths can be prevented if the nutritional requirements of young children – the most vulnerable are infants under two years – are met. Starved for Attention not only focuses on the tragedy of childhood malnutrition, but more importantly on the successful programs put in place to fight it, and how they must be developed.  Mexico and the United States exemplify the successful implementation of these strategies.  They focus on children up to two years of age: direct nutrition programs ensure that even children from the poorest families have access to invaluable foods such as milk and eggs.


Our Global Victory is committed to providing children worldwide with futures full of opportunity and promise.  Visit our website to get involved and learn more about our mission!

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n506764147_628240_7819There has been a lot of buzz lately about the latest version of the Amazon Kindle – the DX – and its potential role in higher education. The DX version of the Kindle has a larger screen and was created to market to customers who enjoy having their newspaper subscription appear remotely on their e-Readers. The larger screen allows users to view more of the article at one time. It is atypical for a company to offer a larger electronic device after offering a smaller version and charge more for it. However, newspaper readers may enjoy a device that better simulates the paper version.

Now there is talk about the e-Reader replacing textbooks in colleges. This would greatly reduce the amount of paper used in producing college materials, especially when new versions of textbooks come out yearly with only a few small changes. Eventually, these changes could be downloaded like software updates. Amazon announced that Pearson Education, Cengage Learning and Wiley Higher Education have agreed to make their textbooks available in the Kindle store and six colleges will test the device later this year. Although the price point on the e-Reader is too high for mass marketing (about $500), it is less expensive than a years worth of textbooks – if the e-versions are not expensive.

Outside of higher education, less expensive e-Readers could help underprivileged children have access to books that they would normally not have access to. How about One e-Reader Per Child? In many areas of world, communities do not have access to current textbooks. They use older versions that do not have updated theories on science or updated accounts of history. Or, in some cases, teachers must teach only from memory.

This is especially true in refugee populations, with internally displaced people, and other education undertaken in emergencies. Setting up a school in crisis, is an important way to keep children safe and reduce possible post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. It also greatly increases opportunities for children. If humanitarian agencies were equipped with rugged low cost e-Readers, children could have access to their national curriculums without the need for traditional textbooks, which they are unlikely to carry with them in the case of an emergency migration. If each child was using an e-Reader, their education would suffer less from disruption and they could continue their progressing to the next education level.

E-readers would reduce the costs of producing textbooks and shipping them to remote areas. Children could have access to the latest versions of textbooks with up to date historic accounts and scientific discoveries. They would also have access to dictionaries, other reference manuals, and a library of fiction and non-fiction books which would not be available otherwise. Ultimately, children would be better able to compete with students outside of their communities, have more opportunities, become better-equipped leaders, and have a greater chance for success.

It is important for us to think about how new technologies can positively impact underprivileged communities because all communities are inter-related and integral for a healthy world.

Please note: The phrase ‘One e-Reader Per Child’ is a tribute to the One Laptop Per Child program which seeks to provide low cost laptops to children in the poorest communities.

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Our Global Victory is my passion. I created this organization to help unite the advocacy efforts of non-profits, corporations, governments, and individuals for underprivileged children. The greatest impact results when diverse organizations work together toward a common goal. Together we can achieve Our Global Victory and help children reach their full potential. 

I have had the privilege to know the stories of many courageous children who faced barriers to education, healthcare, and safety. A young woman, whose father was incarcerated, struggled to help her mother raise her younger brothers and sisters while attending school. A boy, who was physically abused and had attempted suicide, fought to rebuild his self-esteem and focus on the future. A twelve year old, forced from his home by war, wrestled to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder and to have one night of sleep free from nightmares. Their stories, and countless others like them, are both tragic and triumphant. They are, unfortunately, too common. Barriers to opportunity make it hard for children to reach their full potential and, in many cases, make it impossible. 

It is their stories and the hope of change that inspire me everyday. The world loses so many inspirations – about 26,500 children* – are lost each day due to poor health conditions, poverty, negligence, and other preventable causes. I believe that every child has the right to opportunity and that every individual has the right to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. Our Global Victory is dedicated to creating partnerships that result in a better future for children and the communities where they live… a better future for everyone. It is possible. 

 

 

 

*From UNICEF, ‘State of the World’s Children 2008’: http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_42623.html

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