Extreme poverty

Be the difference that makes the difference

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Every 3 seconds, a child dies from extreme poverty
Don't wait for Bono to tell you this is cool- act now!

I am asking for your help. Please join me on this challenge – the 10 City Bridge Run – only by working together can we build a bridge to close the gap on poverty. Child mortality is not a new problem; sadly, neither is extreme poverty.

There are four distinct areas I need your help. I think it would be awesome if you could help me even if only in one of these areas:

  1. Build a human bridge and send a photo for inclusion in the petition.
  2. Join our ‘design community’ to help unpack this design challenge.
  3. Step up as a ‘Local Connector’ to help communicate, coordinate, organise, and manage this process
  4. Help fund the journey through sponsorship: purchase a copy of the book “Life Bridge”.

This is not a charity. This is charity! The sale of this book funds the 10 City Bridge Run. Sponsorship starts at $24.

The book “Life Bridge” will reflect the the “life bridge” presented as a pictorial petition to the G20 Summit in Paris. The intention is to gather 24,000 copies of ‘human bridges’ photographs as a pictorial petition to appeal to the leadership at the Paris G20 Summit in June 2011. Together we can create a ‘life bridge’ that “focuses on concrete measures…to make a tangible and significant difference in people’s lives“ by making specific mention of child mortality in the Final Declaration when mentioning extreme poverty.

Please be the difference that makes a difference. Unlike fund raising campaigns, this is not about raising hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. The 10 City Bridge Run will operate on the scent of an oily rag. What we need is for many like-minded individuals to step up, and together we can be the difference that makes a difference. The Butterfly Effect in action.

Why a bridge?

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The bridge is an important metaphor for joining people, institutions, conversations, ideas, communities and places together. The bridge is a universal metaphor. Everyone understands the purpose of a bridge is and how it is used. A bridge has multiple functions, including:

  • Crosses a gap. Overcomes differences.
  • Joins two or more communities that otherwise are separated.
  • Gives more options.
  • Makes travel easier.
  • Connects cultures, ideas, differences.
  • Requires work from both sides for it to be structurally sound.
  • Good foundations needed, along with spans of the right material and length, as well as stable supports.
  • Allows help to be given. Allows someone to accept help when offered.

We seek to build a bridge between the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) (specifically Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality) and the G20 (19 largest economic nations and the EU). This bridge requires the participation of many people to make this happen.

Out of Reach? City of Sydney talks MDG

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I am still working through the irony of hundred of people flying to New York to spend great sums of money on accommodation and the life’s littles luxuries like coffee to talk about poverty… Was anything achieved other than a gee-up from world leaders to say we have to do better? Could it have been better achieved with a couple of emails? I don’t know, and I wasn’t there either.

But before anyone set foot onto Manhattan, what the world did know was that it is not working. Back to the lead question: “Is the seemingly impossible possible?”

Want to know more? Find out at the City of Sydney presentation tomorrow night at the Surry Hills library. Click here to find out more.

I hope to see you there!

Benjamin

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Matt with Benjamin

 

This morning I met Benjamin for the first time. He is less than 20 days old and the son of good friends Dave and Janet. Everyone is happy and healthy. Benjamin is a beautiful baby.

Dave is a doctor, and I took some time to ask him about how things in his life have changed since the arrival of Benjamin. We also talked about the distinction between how wonderful medical care is in Australia, compared with what might be expected in what is referred to as a ‘developing country’.

How fortunate we are to experience almost very low child mortality and excellent maternal health. Dave was explaining how easy and cheap it would be to save so many life through simple interventions relating to hydration and hygiene. Simple things we take so much for granted that we don’t even think twice.

During the week a friend related a story where apparently in parts of Sudan the prevalence of child mortality was so high that new born babies are not given names.

I am thankful for Dave and Janet that things are different for Benjamin. How long will it be before child mortality and maternal health become taken for granted by almost everyone on earth?

I Dare You

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The most powerful force of change on the planet is a girl. (Thanks to the input from my friends Judith, Anne and Billy who challenged this statement. I would reword it replacing ‘force of change’ with ‘force for change’. What do you think? Does it make a difference?)

The Big Divide- Rich and Poor

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These key indicators of human well-being have ...
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The Sydney Morning Herald reported a story titled The big divide: the super rich versus struggle street. I thought it was worth looking at this further from a perspective of extreme poverty. Is there any correlation? Is this part of the conversation?

A short answer would be ‘No’.

The conditions of those in extreme poverty is so atrocious, it beggars belief. Try and comprehend 4,000 children dying daily from diarrhoea caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.

Just as this is not the ‘fault’ of someone else having a lot of money (or little money), it is not ultimately solved by more money or more aid being directed at the problem. Neither is ‘more awareness’ on its own going to solve the problem. Same for ‘more education’.

These are all pieces of how the problem should be addressed. Aid given through foreign policy could be targeted as much as the ‘super-rich’. It also becomes a big ethical question of what is super-rich and how should ‘they’ respond? Should being able to have a manicure (the opening example in the article) necessarily entail obligation and responsibility and more for someone who is less able.

My friend Virginia challenged me on how is the 10 City Bridge Run going to make a difference. I believe it will do this through leverage. And it is at its core an intellectual challenge. This does not mean that we all sit around and think our way out of extreme poverty. That would be nonsense and action is required.

How might this change things, really? That is a good question. Imagine many people (many in the thousands) who each change how they think about this issue a little bit, not just one but on a regular or occasional basis over the course of a year, and with their thinking their actions also change.

This is what I believe needs to occur. Maybe meeting the Millennium Development Goals is impossible. Noises from New York would already indicate that the global financial crisis is the convenient reason to explain why these targets have not been met.

If the conversation about extreme poverty is only measured in money and aid, rather than actions and outcomes my fear is that the end of poverty will be a long, long way from us yet. To create a change, we first need to change our thinking, and very quickly after that have our actions reflect this change in mindset.

If anything, the conversation about the ‘super-rich’ and ‘struggle street’ is an unwelcome distraction from what constitutes extreme poverty. Good for selling newspapers.

A demographer at KPMG, Bernard Salt, said rising inequality was beside the point as most Australians were better off than they were 20 years ago.

”If there is a divergence emerging it is because the super wealthy are doing so much better. I don’t think it’s because the battlers are going backwards. Everyone did well, it’s just that the upper end did well better,” he said. (quoted from the SMH article)


Target

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DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 24JAN08 - Bono, Musician, D...
Bono: Effective cut-through in making change

Some people have asked ‘how much is enough?’ Here are my targets for sponsorship.

240 Span Sponsors @ $240.

2,400 Support Sponsors @ $24.

These will enable the Six Outcomes to be achieved.  More importantly, doing so will raise awareness of an individual’s capacity to act to influence extreme poverty.

No one event on its own can solve the problems of the world. Together, we each play a small part toward making a bigger difference. Please join me on this journey as a sponsor for $24.