I was really impressed when I found out Zach Stay, 17 year-old from Orem, decided to put together a conference that would fight poverty through technology. It was called the Hacking Poverty Conference, and invited companies and schools in the area to come participate in this free humanitarian event. Some of the participants included i.TV, Maxsam Partners, Perfect Search Corporation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University, and Mountain View High School. This event was dedicated towards thinking of and creating innovative solutions with technology to help alleviate poverty. Stay thought of new ideas like apps for smart phones that are specified towards helping poverty in some way, or an app that records the location of the humanitarian aid that has been given. This was inspiring to me to read about a teenager who felt like using his computer gifts to help others really in need.
Another great effort that is working towards alleviating poverty is One Laptop for Every Child. The mission of this nonprofit is to empower the world’s poorest children through education.
This laptop has the ability to empower a community through it’s families. It starts with the child and moves up to inspire the parents. It is remarkable because it gives these children in the poorest countries to feel equal to children in other countries. Perhaps with the rise in education, they would contribute to the economic growth of their country. This initiative contributes towards alleviating poverty and therefore increasing the life expectancy of children and families all over.
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An article in the Wall Street Journal called “16 Tycoons Agree to Give Away Fortunes,” reports that Mark Zuckerberg and 15 other wealthy individuals agreed to give away over half of his wealth either in his lifetime or after he dies. WOW…. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates organized a an effort called The Giving Pledge,where they ask the wealthiest individuals in the U.S. to donate most of their wealth to charitable causes. This to me is hopeful, good, and can have a large effect.
This to me represents what wealthy people in America can do with their money. There is an easy access route and influential individuals already pledging large amounts of money. The Giving Pledge really has potential to start a philanthropic trend amongst Americans. Innovations for Poverty Action states that 89% of Americans give to charity. This statistic, along with the fact that the wealthiest individuals in America decided to create The Giving Pledge effort, leads me to believe that Americans really WANT to donate to charities.
Charities do not answer all problems associated with poverty, but it does answer the question in my mind, do Americans want to help?
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Thanks for all of the comments thus far! I chose to look further into and elaborate possible solutions to the health and wealth problem based off of a comment left on one of my posts. Allysong21 suggested that a strong sense of community can give a huge support in protecting people from negative health outcomes. I completely agree! I am not sure if this post is exactly what she meant, but this is how I ran with it.
Community building and strengthening has a lot of power because of the support it brings to the individuals involved. Strong supportive environments will help communities stay in touch with the actual problems they are faced with. Because of that, the members in the community can feel empowered to take action on those issues. This instills strength, confidence, and a family-like support. It utilizes the community members’ expertise and talents, so to speak, to help those lacking in those areas.
The World Bank has a page that explains community building in a comprehensive way. The World Bank is an organization that works towards a world free of poverty. They highly support the ideas of community building as strategies to combat poverty and therefore, health. The International Development Association, IDA, has been successful at raising $1.3 billion a year and works towards placing the power of developing the community directly into the hands of those community members. They have been able to lift many villagers out of poverty in places like Tanzania, Indonesia, and Senegal (just to name a few).
This is great in developing nations, but what does that mean in the United States? How do you bring this to America? Part of why these community developing initiatives work so well is because they get to know the community. They allow the actual people to make a change. Well can that be done here in America? I submit that it can. As public health officials, we should work towards getting to know poverty stricken communities and asking them what they want, instead of telling them what they need. Community building in America can be the same way. Getting to know the most poverty stricken communities through influential community members, and getting to know the gaps–what is keeping them from behaving healthy. As public health officials it is our duty to overcome those barriers by utilizing the community members’ resources. Let’s empower the members to work together and build their community through self-discipline, self-reliance, and patience. Let the power be in their hands.
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