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Live Above the Line

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About two years ago now, I set off into the world to try and find my place in its wild expanse. I traveled far and, to be honest, not so wide, but I saw the sights and explored confines of the Occidental World and the bounds of the East. I saw grandeur churches in Italy, the broken Berlin Wall, Big Ben and the four-legged splay of the Eiffel Tower. I saw the glistening marble of the Taj Mahal, the overgrown treasure of Angkor Wat, the whir or life in Ho Chi Minh City. I saw the sun set on many seas and the break of dawn in the skies.

However, everything I saw was not so pleasant. Alongside many of these illustrious sights, I saw children playing in the filth of the streets dressed in scraps of brightly colored cloth and people fishing in rivers of sludge just to feed their families. I saw the slums of India, in all of their cardboard, tire and sun-bleached glory and the human sized space of pavement that some people claimed as home. I saw the thin, translucent curtain that separates a life lived below the line of poverty – on less than $1.50 a day – from a life lived well above it. As I wondered how these children and families survived in such unthinkable conditions, I asked myself, What can I do to help? 

Currently I am a blogging intern at The Borgen Project, a non-profit organization, run entirely on a volunteer basis that raises awareness and advocacy for people living in poverty worldwide. Specifically, The Borgen Project aims to protect and secure United States funding for programs that ensure mother and newborn survival, access to clean water and food security for people around the globe. Through advocacy, education, mobilization and sending the message to congressmen and US citizens alike, the Borgen Project hopes to eradicate world poverty and help men, women and children- families- live healthier, happier lives – and to LIVE ABOVE THE LINE of poverty!

In 1970 countries that are part of the UN pledged to give 0.7% of their gross national income to official development assistance (ODA). Currently, the United States gives just 0.2% of our gross national income to foreign aid programs, in dollars that is about $30 billion. Of the countries that make up the UN, the United States ranks 19th ODA*. Already there have been numerous strides in reducing poverty worldwide. Here are just ten examples** of the good that has already been done:

  1. Over the past 20 years, the number of the world’s chronically undernourished has been reduced by 50 percent.
  2. Life expectancy in the developing world has increased by about 33 percent.
  3. More than 50 million couples worldwide use family planning as a direct result of USAID’s population program.
  4. In the past 50 years, infant and child death rates in the developing world have been reduced by 50 percent.
  5. Health conditions around the world have improved more during this time period than at any time in human history.
  6. USAID child survival programs have contributed greatly to a 10 percent reduction in infant mortality rates worldwide in just the past eight years.
  7. In the past two decades, investments by the U.S. and other donors in better seeds and agricultural techniques have made it possible to feed an extra billion people in the world.
  8. An estimated 135 million people were assisted out of extreme poverty in low-income countries between 1999 and 2004.
  9. In 2008, the World Food Programme (WFP) purchased a record-breaking 552,000 metric tons of food in Southern Africa; the equivalent of providing 2.75 million hungry people with a full food basket for an entire year.
  10. Since 1990, 800 million people have gained access to improved water supplies and 750 million to improved sanitation.

Now think about it if I told you that, annually, the estimated shortfall of cold, hard cash that could end world poverty is $30 billion (0.2% of our gross national income). What could happen if we were to double our current donations, or to give the pledged 0.7% of our gross national income? Lastly, think about the $663 billion of our gross national income that is allotted to Military spending*** and how 78% of US citizens are in favor of assisting poor countries as a means to combat terrorism.

So here I am, not asking for money, but asking for your help in assisting the 600 billion people in the world that live on the equivalent of $1.50 a day. I’m asking for your help to spread the world and gain support. I am asking for your help to save lives so people that live in the squalor of the slums, on the pavement of the train stations and who cast their fishing lines in sludge, don’t have to. So they can focus on things that you and I focus on. Things like getting an education, seeing our families grow and living happily and healthily into the future.


“Where did you get your info?” You ask…

Check out The Borgen Project to get the full scoop and for the numbers, check out the following, government sites that list the stats.

*US Foreign Aid

**Successes in fighting global Poverty

***US department of Defense (Budget)



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