Friday, May 2, 2008

#15: Global Poverty

I took this picture outside of Kisumu, Kenya in August of 2007. It was made of mud and sticks. Scraps of tin were used for the roof. A single mother lived in this home with her four kids.

The entire home was 14 x 10. Four children and one adult living in a 140 square foot home. A couple of sheets were used to create a "wall" to separate the bedroom from the rest of the house.

As I visited with this family, the mother offered me a cup of hot tea. It must've been 100 degrees that day. But they love their hot tea in Kenya! It's probably best too...because the water is so unsafe that they have to boil it to make it drinkable.
As the mother poured me a cup of hot tea, she poured four more smaller cups. One for each child. She reached into a bag of sliced bread and handed out one piece of bread to each child. That was dinner for the family. One slice of cup of hot tea.

Global poverty sucks. And we in America need to think about what we can do to change that. Why us? Well, maybe it's because:
  • In America, we consume 24% of the world's energy. But we only make up 5% of the world's population.
  • Americans eat 815 billion calories of food each day. That's roughly 200 billion more than needed. Those extra 200 billion calories are enough to feed another 80 million people.
  • Americans toss out 200,000 tons of edible food every single day.
  • More than half the people in the world survive on 25 gallons of water per day. The average American consumes 159 gallons a day.

I'm not blaming America for global poverty. There are corrupt governments to blame. There are natural elements like drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis to blame. There's greed. That's such an ugly word. Greed. Few people consider themselves greedy. But if we look at our own lifestyles with an honest pair of eyes, I wonder how much greed we'd really see. I'm ashamed to say that I stink of greed. It permeates me.

Let's be honest: It's hard to change your ways. After a lifetime of leaving the water on while you're brushing your teeth...or taking nice, long, hot showers, or tossing out the bread that's not as soft and moist or the fruit that's not quite as ripe. It's hard. But sometimes we have to do the hard things in order to right the wrongs.

Global poverty: You Suck.

No comments: