Saturday, March 6, 2010

Save This Date! Chicago RESULTS Fundraiser – May 23, 2010

Chicago RESULTS Fundraiser – May 23, 2010

Mark your calendars for the afternoon of Sunday May 23, 2010 when the Chicago-area RESULTS groups will be hosting an event in Evanston to raise funds and promote poverty awareness. The featured speaker will be Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

Tickets will be on sale later this month. Watch for updates on email, Facebook, and RESULTS Chicago web site:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Confronting poverty can aid in solving other problems

Op-ed about how long-term poverty fighting and advocacy can help in disaster situations like Haiti. From the Morton Grove Champion...

Guest Essay: Confronting poverty can aid in solving other problems
March 1, 2010
By CYNTHIA CHANGYIT LEVIN Contributing Columnist
Over a month has passed since the earthquake in Haiti and still the horrific images linger in our minds: A child's legs extending from the rubble of a collapsed school, wandering crowds needing water and medical aid trucks stacked full of bodies. Massive destruction put a spotlight on the desperate troubles of Haiti. Generous people around the world saw and responded by opening their hearts and wallets. In my neighborhood, we donated money and even our shoes. We collected health care items for Haitians and victims of future emergencies. Yet after donations have been made and prayers have been said, we still wonder what more we can do.

The first step to giving real, lasting help is to understand that Haiti's long history of poverty is what makes the current crisis so terrible. The effects of the catastrophe are worsened by a situation that existed long before the earthquake. Haiti is the same country where shocking stories emerged in 2008 about nursing mothers eating mud to slack their hunger.

When countries languish for years in abject poverty, any crisis -- an earthquake, a hurricane, or a tsunami -- will cause much more widespread suffering than if it happened in a wealthy nation. The population doesn't have simple advantages that developed nations take for granted. For instance, before the earthquake only 50 percent of Haitian children had received vaccinations. Now, diseases spread rapidly through crowded shelters without proper sanitation.

Haiti was already part of an everyday global tragedy that is mostly unseen. We are shocked by news of more than 200,000 earthquake-related deaths. Yet we rarely notice nine million children under five dying worldwide each year from treatable or preventable causes, mostly in impoverished nations.

We can work to prevent the daily disaster of people dying of poverty-related causes and, as a result, help countries like Haiti be better prepared for a natural disaster. U.N. Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon referred to our responsibility to the world's poorest people when he stated, Haiti's plight is a reminder of our wider responsibilities.

To aid the future of Haiti and other developing nations, we can speak to our members of Congress about issues like debt relief, basic education, global health, and effective use of foreign aid. It sounds complicated, but advocacy really boils down to saying that children need school, people need food, money should be used responsibly and where you're born shouldn't determine whether you live or die.

Seeking out reputable, nonpartisan advocacy organizations is a simple way to start. In the Chicago area, national organizations like RESULTS, Bread for the World, and the ONE Campaign reach out to Illinois senators and representatives on behalf of people living in poverty. Each has a Web site tailor-made to make advocating as easy as clicking a mouse or making a two-minute phone call. Their local volunteers are everyday people who band together to channel the frustration, anger, and sorrow they feel into useful action.

Advocacy organizations are playing a significant role in Haiti's recovery. Within days of the earthquake, anti-poverty activists worked to relieve Haiti of its crippling debt -- freeing up resources that could be used to feed its starving population. Thousands of regular folk clicked on-line petitions or called to urge Congress to help drop the debt. In response to the massive outpouring of public will, congressional leaders now plan to introduce legislation requiring the U.S. use its considerable influence to ensure all of Haiti's debt is canceled. Tremendous progress can be made when people realize there are solutions and act on them.

Before the spotlight fades on Haiti, remember that it was poverty that made the situation so extreme. We can't predict where then next major disaster is going to occur, but our actions can help equip impoverished nations to be better prepared to weather the next crisis.

Cynthia Changyit Levin, of Morton Grove, is a grassroots board member of RESULTS Educational Fund. She is also the local leader for the RESULTS Chicago-Evanston group, which advocates on issues of global poverty.