We live in a fast paced and commercialized society. We are innundated by new information; how to lose ten pounds in ten days and keeping up on the crazy antics of Britney Spears are norms of our everyday life. However, even through this onslaught of the media, we remain oblivious to social issues that are taking place everyday in countries around the world. We choose what to experience, and what to forget.
The occasional commercial can be seen to show the perils of those who experience poverty. More times than not, this often results in the channel being changed. These forgotten souls can be found in every country of the world – there are no cultural, territorial, racial, or language borders when it comes to the issue of global poverty. The World Bank estimates that 46% of the world’s population lives on less than US $2 a day. That’s less than the going rate of a coffee these days.
Child poverty is a huge issue in the global community. One out of every two children worldwide is living in it. Grade 4 and 5 students in the K-W area defined poverty according to what it means to them across a range representing this statistic, from “[Poverty is] pretending that you forgot your lunch,” to “[Poverty is] really hard because my mom gets scared and she cries.” In 1989 the Canadian House of Commons unanimously declared it a goal to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. In Canada, the number of children living below the poverty line is currently at one million, seven years after the elimination goal.
A common myth in the poverty issue is that large-scale poverty only occurs in developing nations. While it is true that these countries are more likely to experience poverty, it is not contained in one region or area. Here in our own community, 15% of the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge population are living in poverty.
Poverty also affects university students. WLUSU organizes a student food bank for those who cannot meet their dietary requirements. This service began in October 2006, and helps to ensure that students of Wilfrid Laurier University have access to a variety of nutritious foods. The food bank can also supply students with toiletries including shampoo, conditioner, soap, and toothpaste.
The problem of poverty is a huge one, yet its one that can be stopped. Many solutions are within grasp. The most obvious and easiest of these is to learn about poverty. By understanding the issue, informed decisions can be made about how to proceed. Volunteering to help out with the WLUSU Food Bank, regional Food Banks, or helping out at various soup kitchens in the K-W area is a great way to meet new people and help the community. The smallest gestures, like donating unused clothes to the Salvation Army and writing to your Member of Parliament, to the largest ones, like organizing rallies and donating time/ money, all help to make a difference. What are you waiting for? Make poverty history!