Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jeffery Sachs on the Daily Show

Jeffery Sachs will be on the Daily Show on Tuesday, 3/18! He will most likely be promoting his new book, "Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet."

Sachs is the author of "The End of Poverty" and the man behind the Millennium Promise program. His book distills his experience of being an advisor for economies in crisis and explains why he believes it is possible end poverty and how we should go about it. Through Millennium Promise, it is his vision to attack all of the major problems of poverty (water, malaria bed nets, education, HIV/AIDS prevention, etc) in a coordinated effort for many "Millennium Villages" in Africa and prove that they can indeed rise out of extreme poverty and be self-sufficient. For those of you in Chicago, we have a local group connected to them called Chicago promise. A friend of mine recently visited a Millennium Village and had very encouraging things to say including the exciting fact that the effort was well-funded.

For more information about Millennium Promise, please visit
For more informaiton about Chicago Promise, please visit

“No part of the world can be abandoned to extreme poverty, or used as a dumping ground for the toxic, without jeopardizing and diminishing all the rest.” p.5, COMMON WEALTH

"Human pressures on the Earth’s ecosystems and climate, unless mitigated substantially, will cause dangerous climate change, massive species extinctions, and the destruction of vital life-support functions."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When a nursing mother can eat only mud

I have a confession. For almost a year, I've immersed myself in readings about extreme poverty and theories of how to combat it. I've written a lot of my own, too. I confess...I am becoming somewhat desensitized to the hardship. Sometimes, as an advocate, I find myself skimming past the already familiar stories and statistics looking for material to respond to and use to raise awareness effectively. But this story I saw on stopped me in my tracks. I write today with tears in my eyes.

We know that millions are living on less than $1 a day. We know that worldwide food prices are rising. We know that people already on the edge will bear the brunt of food shortage. And we know many will not survive. But what will happen when they try to survive? How will mothers try to feed their children when there is nothing to eat?

They will eat mud.

In Haiti, the very poor are resorting to mud pies to fill their stomachs with whatever they can. The mud is rich in calcium and has been known to be consumed for its properties as an antacid. But a 16 yr old mother with a 1 month old son is eating mud as a regular meal several times a day despite the stomach pains it gives her. It's a desperate act and a direct result of rising food prices and food shortages.

Here you can see the msnbc story about this horrendous phenomenon.

And now that you know, you can take action. You can contact your senators and urge them to pass the Global Poverty Act (S 2433) which will make achieving the first Millennium Development Goal (reducing extreme poverty in half by 2015) a matter of US foreign policy. Make your voice heard and tell your elected officials that it is unacceptable that our brothers and sisters are literally eating dirt while we feast.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

IL Call-in: Restore cut in Int. Affairs Budget (poverty assistance at risk)

An action call-in from Bread for the World. Please call by end of day tomorrow to help with the budget for poverty-focused development assistance!

MESSAGE: Please call Senator Barack Obama by 6:00 pm Eastern Time, Wednesday, March 12 at 1-800-826-3688. Ask your senator to cosponsor the Feinstein-Smith amendment to restore the cut in the International Affairs Budget proposed by the FY 2009 budget resolution.

[Note: This toll-free number will connect you to the Capitol switchboard, where you will ask to be connected to your senator’s office in order to leave your message.]

Key elements of this message:
The International Affairs budget is essential to building hope and opportunity around the world. The current FY 2009 Senate budget resolution shortchanges this important work. Please co-sponsor the Feinstein-Smith amendment to restore funding to the International Affairs account that was cut in the Budget Committee.

The budget resolution is the first step in the congressional decision-making process on the federal budget. The president submitted his request for the fiscal year 2009 budget on February 4th. His budget request included $39.8 billion for the International Affairs accounts, including foreign assistance. Not including emergency spending, this was almost a $5 billion increase over the fiscal year 2008 levels.

After the president submits his budget proposal, the Senate and the House Budget Committees develop separate budget resolutions. The budget resolution makes changes in tax policy and mandatory spending (i.e. Medicare, Social Security) and sets a ceiling for the total amount of discretionary spending (i.e. health research, defense, foreign assistance). The resolution provides non-binding guidance to the Appropriations Committee on the amount each area of discretionary spending should receive.

Last week, the two budget committees finished work on their respective resolutions. The Senate Budget Committee’s recommendation for International Affairs--$35.7 billion--is significantly less than the House resolution. The House Budget Committee recommended $38.3 billion for the International Affairs accounts.

The Feinstein-Smith amendment would restore $2.6 billion to the International Affairs budget in the Senate Budget Resolution to bring it in line with the higher level proposed by the House of Representatives. Your Senator's name on the amendment are crucial to making a real difference in the level of funding as the appropriations process moves forward. By asking your senator to cosponsor the amendment, we can show support for this increase and ensure its consideration on the Senate floor.

This first step in the fight over the International Affairs budget is a critical one to make sure we keep our promise to help the world's poorest people. Later, we'll work to make sure that enough of the International Affairs budget goes to the programs that are making a real difference in the developing world. But that fight will be much more difficult if we don't get a high level of funding here and now.

Key points:
- Co-sponsor the Feinstein-Smith amendment.
- In addition to supporting vital diplomatic efforts around the world, the International Affairs budget also supports effective programs focused on poverty reduction by improving agriculture, nutrition, health, water and education systems.
- The U.S. should not shortchange these critical programs affecting millions of poor and hungry people around the world.

Calls completed by: 6:00 pm Wednesday, March 12.

Christian Science Monitor series: "An End to Poverty"

This week, the Christian Science Monitor is running a five-part series called "An End to Poverty: New Hope for the Last Billion Poor." Today’s segment is about addressing some of common myths about global poverty. It also highlights how uncoordinated our aid is and how it isn’t targeted toward the poorest of the poor.

"A First Step for the Global Poor- Shattering Six Myths"

Here are some excerpts:

" 'There are too many impoverished people to help.'

A bogus excuse. Historically, the world's poorest covered the globe. That's no longer the case. The mid-tier developing world in much of South and Central Asia is steadily and remarkably rising in prosperity. The last billion who suffer extreme poverty are concentrated in fewer than 60 very small sub-Saharan, Asian, and Latin American countries, which means we've never been in a better position to eradicate it."

" 'If aid is good, more aid is better.'

Not really. Since 2001, the Bush administration has tripled foreign assistance worldwide, and quadrupled it in Africa. And NGOs build their identities around raising and giving money. But more funding isn't the most critical issue.

While humanitarian assistance has saved millions, consider this startling conclusion from a recent study by the Center for Global Development: When aid rises to 8 percent of a recipient nation's gross domestic product, it has zero effect on economic growth. Above that, it has a negative effect.

The serious challenge is one of coordination. Chronic shortages of skilled citizens in the very worst-off nations mean that more resources simply can't be deployed effectively. Instead, donors, NGOs, and private philanthropies trip over one another, competing to give money away, rather than coordinating at ground level to get results. More isn't always better; smarter is better."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bounce for Charity Result: $100 and 2 big bins of food

As long as I'm sharing event results today, I also happily report that the Bounce for Charity event went very well. Three classes of a local pre-school were invited to an inflatable jump house party where a portion of the admission went to a the Northfield Township Food Pantry and kids brought food to donate. Two big "garbage sized" bin were filled with non-perishable food and a little over $100 was raised for our pantry. The kids all had a great time (no injuries!) and the pantry was very pleased we could help.

Great job, jumpers!

2008 Offering of Letters result: 130 letters!

I'm happy to report that the Offering of Letters at my church had a nice turnout and was quite a success. Despite a rocky start when the organizer (me) didn't set the clock ahead for daylight savings time, everything went smoothly. Bread got baked, our pastor delivered a beautiful sermon (seamlessly linking the Offering of Letters, the lesson about dry bones, his own mission trip to Senegal and a even an environmental message...he's quite a genius!), people were gathered, letters were written. We collected 130 letters to Congress! This was my first time organizing the event and I attribute the much of this year's success to my predecessors who have trained our congregation well. And by "trained", of course, I mean "educated and informed" :) I found I didn't have to convince or cajole anyone to write. People came in and sat down right away, putting pen to paper. I loved seeing youth and seniors writing at the side by side!

Thanks to all the volunteers who pulled this off and especially thanks to all the letter writers!