At the beginning of this challenge, the decision was to focus on organizations primarily operating in the United States, or the US branches of these organizations. With the events in Haiti this week, I wanted to expand that focus a bit and include an organization that is well respected and has the resources to mobilize around the world. CARE is already mobilized to respond to the disaster in Haiti and is accepting donations on their web site http://www.care.org
“Last year, CARE supported more than 800 poverty-fighting projects in 72 countries to reach more than 59 million people. CARE not only feeds the hungry, we also help tackle underlying causes of poverty so that people can become self-sufficient. Recognizing that women and children suffer disproportionately from poverty, CARE places special emphasis on working with women to create permanent social change.” (from the CARE website)
In many of my reflections, I have focused on the spiritual and emotional aspects of this challenge as I am experiencing them. I have not spoken about political issues because I have not wanted anyone to feel unwelcome if their ideas differ from mine. However, a number of the organizations I have listed as possible recipients of our donation attempt to uncover and address the root causes of hunger — many of which are political in nature (using the broad definition of political, not the red vs blue definition so popular in our media). The poverty and hunger endemic in Haiti are the result of complex political forces, and will serve to make this natural disaster that much more heartbreaking than it needed to be.
At least one famous televangelist has said that Haiti’s issues are the result of a pact the nation made with the devil, and there have been other commentators making similar, if more subtle, points. It is important, I believe, that this type of nonsensical rhetoric be renounced by all. Spiritually, none of us is served by allowing such crap to flourish in our hearts.
I do believe that we have the power to effect real change in the world around us. That happens best when groups of committed individuals come together and work toward a common purpose. For this reason, I strongly encourage each of us to spend some time getting to know more of what is happening in the world around us. The websites for the organizations listed on our Ballot of Organizations are a place to start learning about creative work being done for the betterment of our world. There is a wealth of research and statistical information there as well.
I realize that a short blog entry oversimplifies issues — what is known about hunger, its causes and its interaction with other poverty-related and political issues is a staggering amount, and there is not widespread agreement on the best courses of action. I am far from well-educated myself. Please look into your heart and decide whether it is time to learn more.