Fighting Poverty

January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month, and it's a great opportunity to talk about this disturbing aspect of our world.

The present conditions of the poor in the US and elsewhere is not only due to recurrent bad governing, but also prejudice, pride and ignorance.

Just as the joint efforts of helping Haiti have been showing, one doesn't need to donate much in order to help. And money is not the only issue here.

Poor people are often despised and shunned from society, they don't have access to decent education and health systems, are constantly changing jobs and facing prolonged periods of unemployment, the very culture they are surrounded with is often negative and degrading.

Still, the fact that there are those strong enough to break this vicious circle proves that they aren't fated to be outcasts, and with some help from both goverment and individuals, they can overcome their limitations.

It's not a point of "fishing for them" either, but showing them how to "fish", giving them the instruments they need in order to do so.

There are many ways you can help, wherever you may live, no matter how favored (or not) you are.
  • You can donate food, clothes, furniture, and many other objects to charities. The Salvation Army is only one of many institutions that distribute such donations, and they have branches all over the world. 
  • Support financially one or more charities in your neighborhood. In New York, there's the Food Bank For New York City, which does an amazing work locally.  
  • Become a volunteer. What do you know best? Languages? Finance? Law? Arts? Sports? What do you enjoy doing? Writing? Reading? Interacting with people? You can accomplish a lot doing any of that. Volunteers of America is one of the organizations that offers many options for those willing to help.
  • Change yourself. If you're one of those people who discriminate against others for any reason, such as ethnicity, religion, culture, sex, poor dressing, etc, think again. It's irrational to judge a group of people by the disrespectful actions of a few, or just because they are different.
Instead of agreeing to outdated prejudices that have always caused such dire problems, question them, look into things, learn about those people you despise, try to understand their qualities and limitations, and learn to respect them just as you expect to be respected.

The Anti-Prejudice Consortium is an Atlanta-based nonprofit that has several interesting programs on raising awareness about and fighting any form of discrimination.

Our world is hectic, seemingly even worse than it ever was, but all the actions that people are taking in order to improve things will certainly be effective in time. The present state of things is the result of centuries of disregard, so the future will certainly be better as a consequence of both our small and big actions to improve it. Roll up your sleeves!

More information: http://uspoverty.change.org/

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