Today is Blog Action Day and bloggers the world over are focused on Poverty.
The world economy is spiralling - seemingly out of control. Over the past year we've seen the cost of living here in South Africa shoot sky-high. The rest of the world is scrambling to cover failed enterprises and tighten their belts - no more relaxed ease. Sleepless nights over debt and money-relevant angst are becoming the norm.
Yet think of the word "poverty" and inevitably it's an African face that's conjured up. The starving children of drought-stricken regions - those faces splashed on the news. Walk our streets and you'll meet beggars on the post office steps, queues of job-seeking hopefuls lined up at traffic lights each morning, street kids with hands out at your car window, rows of one-room houses hammered together from metal and wood scraps - teetering on a slope or sitting feet-in-water on a flood plain.
By comparison I live a privileged life. Yes, I know what hunger is. I know what it is to scratch out a living and hope you can cover the expenses. I know what it's like to be constantly teetering the fine line between making it and falling into a big black hole. Yet my experience of poverty is as a middle-class white chick who has a job and a car and a roof over her head. When winter comes I have heat - and a hot shower with running water mere metres away. The wind may howl around my house, but it's not coming through the walls. I may have to pull in my belt sometimes - but I have a belt and enough food to keep body & soul together. Poverty is not something I can lay claim to without feeling like a hypocrite.
Just down the road from my house is an "informal settlement" - a squatter camp where thousands live. Crime is rife. Security is nil. I wouldn't dare venture there at night - and probably not during the day either. Just down the road from me is poverty - and I don't know how to deal with it.
But there are people who do.
IOL reports on a feeding scheme for a school sponsored by one of our big store chains. Many of our Virgin Earth clients are involved in working with communities to better the lives of their members - donating useable goods and skills to help them get ahead. And on a global scale, Blog Action Day is helping raise money to fight poverty-related disease across the world.
Me? Today I'm thinking hard about how I can help those around me. I'm not the only one.... Reading that post this morning had me wondering what I can do to make that difference in even one life.
And here's what I'm thinking. I've got "donate" buttons using PayPal and Moneybookers up to the right of these posts.
Let's see if we can raise some cash and help at least one person get a foot up in life. Whatever you donate I'll get off to Esme's mom to make a REAL difference in one life, with a ripple effect to the others she cares for. Perhaps even a few lives with their own ripples.
(Please email me the amount you donate and through which channel so I can track it properly - remove space in email addy)