Social Justice (ECG 300)

Refined presentation, Nov. 25

Hi, my name is Erica Abbott and I’m a communication major, Spanish minor at Cabrini College in Radnor Pennsylvania. I’m here today to talk about poverty-focused development assistance, as well as gender equality. At Cabrini College, we are taught with an “education of the heart” to have concern for those in need. It is important as well that those concerns are addressed and acted on.

In a global sense, poverty-focused development assistance has helped millions of people. One example of this is how Catholic Relief Services partner with locals to create a program to help women in Moldova. Human trafficking is rampant in the cities, where most women must go to seek out jobs. Through their program Sustainable Livelihood, they help make a transition out of poverty and into sustainable lives. It helps create jobs in the rural areas, create understanding and challenge preconceived beliefs. It helps them to create better lives.

Some women, however, still do not have access to programs that help them get a job or participating in obtaining an education.

Education enhances how self-sustainable a person can be. But first education must be completed and able to be obtained by all. Progress has been made in this area—boys and girls have achieved equality in primary education. However, women still face discrimination in education, the workforce and decision-making.

By 2015, gender equality can be achieved in all aspects of education—if the time and effort is put into making that happen. This also includes “ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.” Women after all, account for half the world’s population. They should be able to have equality in order to better their futures.

Poverty-focused development assistance currently accounts for less than one percent of the federal budget. With threats of cuts to this already small percentage, programs that promote long-term development cannot continue.

In closing, I would like to offer a personal story that shows the importance of gender equality and equal access to education. When I was younger, my parents began sponsoring a young Honduran girl named Isary through the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, now known as Unbound. She was six years old when she first entered the program and, at 18, she just grew out of the program last year.

Through this program, Isary was able to obtain an education and graduate with a trade, the transferable skill of IT. We got to see her grow. Without access to this program, however, she more than likely would have become a child laborer or young bride. Not all girls have access to programs like these. Isary is just one example but there are millions of girls that still need access to programs that will provide them a better life and better opportunities for their future. That’s why poverty-focused development assistance must be upheld.

Thank you.


3-minute explanation, Nov. 18

I’m here today to talk about poverty-focused development assistance, as well as gender equality. At Cabrini College, we are taught with an “education of the heart” to have concern for those in need. It is important as well that those concerns are addressed and acted on.

In a global sense, poverty-focused development assistance has helped millions of people. One example of this is how Catholic Relief Services partner with locals to create a program to help women in Moldova. Human trafficking is rampant in the cities, where most women must go to seek out jobs. Through their program Sustainable Livelihood, they help make a transition out of poverty and into sustainable lives. It helps create jobs in the rural areas, create understanding and challenge preconceived beliefs. It helps them to create better lives.

Some women, however, still do not have access to programs that help them get a job or participating in obtaining an education.

Education enhances how self-sustainable a person can be. But first education must be completed and able to be obtained by all. Progress has been made in this area—boys and girls have achieved equality in primary education. However, women still face discrimination in education, the workforce and decision-making.

By 2015, gender equality can be achieved in all aspects of education—if the time and effort is put into making that happen. This also includes “ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.” Women after all, account for half the world’s population. They should be able to have equality in order to better their futures.

Poverty-focused development assistance currently accounts for less than one percent of the federal budget. With threats of cuts to this already small percentage, programs that promote long-term development cannot continue.


Possible bill to mention: Growing Opportunities for Agriculture and Responding to Markets Act of 2013, which includes “local farm business projects and market garden projects to create local employment opportunities.” ;Prepare All Kids Act of 2013; Prepare All Kids Act of 2009; Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act of 2012


Here’s what I think about poverty-focused development assistance, Nov. 13

Poverty-focused development assistance works and it has helped millions of people achieve access to basic human rights: health, education, clean water, and more. It allows for the opportunity to work towards long-term development to help countries rise out of extreme poverty and carry it on for generations.

That’s how I started my message to President Obama a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, poverty-focused development assistance does work; you just need to be willing to work for it. We have a responsibility to help people reach basic human rights that everyone should have access to. As Bono said in the video we watched in the beginning of the semester, “It’s not about charity, it’s about justice.”

We need to help the people that can’t attain justice alone, who don’t have a voice or need assistance climbing the ladder of development. It can happen—minds can be changed, therefore changing the world; another point Bono mentions in his speech.

The issues of the world cannot be changed overnight but through poverty-focused development assistance, the challenges can be addressed at their roots—making it more effective. Programs like USAID and CRS help with this, along with local relationships and organizations.

Through the Universal Declaration of human rights, we take a focus of human dignity and the rights all members of society should have. With Catholic Social Teaching, we focus on the responsibilities we have to work towards the common good for society, standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.

Currently, poverty-focused international assistance accounts for less than one percent of the federal budget. The world is improving but there’s still much more that needs to be done. It begins with awareness about issues around the globe—not focusing on typical stereotypes that many people think of certain countries but the real struggles that they endure on a daily basis. The problems in some countries can be felt and seen around the world and that is why the focus needs to be shifted to a “they” issue and more of a “we” solution.

No one should be made to go through struggles alone. There are real people behind every statistic that need real help.


My Representatives


Senator Casey: Democrat

Residence: Scranton

College: College of the Holy Cross and Catholic University

Religion: Catholic

Last election: 54%

Committee and subcommittee assignments:

Committees relevant to this course are agriculture, nutrition and forestry; health and education. Subcommittees relevant to this course are trade and jobs, rural economic growth and conservation, natural nutrition, specialty crops, food, and livestock. Children and families, employment and workplace safety, and primary health and aging are also relevant subcommittees.

Foreign Policy staff member:

Caitlin Gearen

Appointment Secretary/Scheduler:

Elena DiTraglia, Main number listed: (202) 224-6324

Senator Toomey: Republican

Residence: Zionsville

College: Harvard University

Religion: Catholic

Last election: 51%

Committee and subcommittee assignments:

One committee relevant to this course is budget. There are no subcommittees listed.

Foreign Policy staff member:

Dan Adelstein

Appointment Secretary/Scheduler:

Danielle Joos, Main number listed: (202) 224-4254

House member:

Representative Meehan (Pennsylvania 7th District): Republican

Residence: Drexel Hill

College: Bowdoin College and Temple University

Religion: Catholic

Last election: 59%

Committee and subcommittee assignments:

Committees relevant to this course are ethics, homeland security, oversight and government reform, and transportation and infrastructure. Subcommittees relevant to the course are emergency preparedness response, infrastructure, and counterterrorism within homeland security. Healthcare and national security are relevant in oversight and government reforms. Within transportation and infrastructure; economic development, highways and transit committee, water resources and environment, and public-private partnerships are relevant.

Foreign Policy staff member:

Andrew Robreno

Appointment Secretary/Scheduler:

Colleen Gallagher, Main number listed: (202) 225-2011


On, gender equality and microfinance are most closely related to our MDG. Gender equality is self explanatory as to why it’s related but microfinance is relevant because it helps provide loans and opportunities for economic growth in order to become self-sustaining.


Message to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

Poverty-focused development assistance works and it has helped millions of people achieve access to basic human rights: health, education, clean water, and more. It allows for the opportunity to work towards long-term development to help countries rise out of extreme poverty.

Take for example, chili farmers in Malawi. Previously, villagers relied on subsistence farming to feed themselves and their family—leaving nothing to sell to local markets and ensnaring them in a poverty trap. With help from poverty-focused development assistance, the villagers were able to become self-sufficient, not just at an individual level but also branching out to help other villagers.

While working to attain these goals, we must remember that poverty-focused development assistance is successful when it is sustainable, scalable, capacity building, respectful, and local. We have to walk side by side of those in extreme poverty and not tell them what needs to happen. Assistance works when it meets the needs of a specific country, while progress still is to be made if it is to benefit the world. By helping countries climb the ladder of development, it has a global impact.

Poverty-focused development assistance, however, currently accounts for less than one percent of the federal budget. It is important to look at defense, diplomacy, and development all at once, as they relate to each other—they are interconnected. Poverty-focused development assistance is so important and without enough access to resources, long-term development goals would be seriously undermined. The budget needs to be balanced without making severe cuts to the already low percentage of poverty-focused development assistance.

Sustainable, long-term development means finding ways to ensure that everyone has access to their basic human rights and are able to carry them over generations. Some basic human rights, as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, serve as a standard of living, some of those rights being food, housing, clothing, education, and medical care. It is only right that everyone be given the chance to attain these basic human rights. That is why it is of great importance to continue to support poverty-focused development assistance.

Change does not come overnight, but we have a responsibility to help the poor and vulnerable people of the world. We need to think of these problems as less of a “they” issue and start thinking in terms of “we.” How can we help our brothers and sisters around the world? We’re all one human family and we need to stand in solidarity to work towards the common good for everyone.


Erica Abbott


Videos, Oct. 30

Saving Girls from India’s Sex Trade:

As we discussed in ECG, programs have been created in rural parts of India to fight human trafficking. Through community support and record keeping, the citizens of those towns create their own governance of sorts. It is done locally, allowing women to arm themselves with marketable skills such as embroidery, engine repair, driving etc. By helping them with these skills, women don’t have to leave to go to the big city where trafficking is most rampant. The programs also allow young people to go to school since dropouts are more susceptible to human trafficking.


Malawian Chili Farmers

Farmers in Malawi have learned long-term skills along with help from Wellness and Agriculture for Life Advancement. (WALA) Instead of the farmers needing to lower their crop prices because they’re selling them individually, this program allows and teaches 25,000 Malawian subsistence farmers to grow and sell chilies and other crops through marketing groups called clusters. This lets the group give out the price as a whole. In the long run, this allows them to provide for themselves and their families, while allowing them to be less affected by weather conditions and market conditions. There is also a local aspect to this program because it promotes buying in their own communities. It also helps farmers produce safe, nutritious food with many different kinds of crops. Using different kinds of crops makes some less prone to catastrophes and it also does not limit what they can plant and sell.


The Keyhole Garden

Keyhole gardens are a very innovative idea that has been implemented in many different countries, allowing it to be scalable. It is also sustainable because it teaches the farmers how to more efficiently plant crops and get better yields. It is a form of sustainable gardening that can allow farmers to plant multiple types of crops. The process in which a keyhole garden is built allows for more nutrient-rich soil for the plants to grow. Not only is it more productive than a traditional garden, but the money made from it pays for school and medication, which really pays off in the long run. One of the most important things is that they do the program respectfully and sustainably. They’re not going to these countries, putting in the keyhole gardens and leaving. They’re teaching them how to build the gardens so they can sustain themselves and create sustainable, long-term results.


Helping Gaza College Grads Get Jobs

The work in Gaza is more focused on humanitarian relief, such as food, basic items, and psychological/social support, because of the conflict. They do mention, however, a program for college grads to gets jobs. Through their cash for internship program, it allows fresh graduates to be placed in professional internships, allowing them to grow their skills and stay positive about their future. This relates to empowering women because it allows for them to continue building on their skills and give them a positive future.


Human Trafficking

In Moldova, they describe how prevalent human trafficking is, especially being brought into Western Europe. In the program Sustainable Livelihood, it gives people the chance to transition out of poverty into sustainable lives, with specific tasks like having a job, managing various things and challenging preconceived beliefs. They also discuss what it means to be a woman living in poverty and the push-pull factors of falling victim to the migration schemes where they become vulnerable. This program helps keep women away from those schemes by creating rural jobs and understanding. By aligning with local businesses, it can benefit the individual person and the economy. As it relates to our MDG, it helps women not fall victim to human trafficking and create better lives for themselves.


Weaving in Nepal

I also found another video related to MDG women’s empowerment from the YouTube of the United Nations. It describes how one woman in Nepal learned the skill of weaving and is working outside of just the home, like many women do. She is able to do business herself and sell to the local markets, allowing her to pay school fees.

The MDGs: Implementing Poverty-Focused Development Assistance

What is foreign assistance?

Foreign assistance is funding that the U.S. provides to other nations. It can be delivered directly to a country’s government or delivered through nongovernmental organizations, such as CRS. There is also poverty-focused development that directly affects hungry and poor people. This can include education, vaccinations, building water wells, and more. Communities that receive the assistance can provide input to the assistance program’s design, giving them the ability to come up with sustainable goals that work for their own communities. This deals with one of the factors of foreign assistance, in that it should be respectful—walking side by side with people, not pushing or pulling.

Goals of foreign assistance:

  1. Humanitarian
  2. Political
  3. Development

Humanitarian assistance deals with natural and manmade disasters. Political assistance refers to counter-narcotics in Latin America, Israel, the war on terror, and military training. Development assistance requires long-term improvement by reducing poverty and encouraging economic growth in low-income countries.

Examples the website gives are South Korea and Taiwan, who were long-term recipients of development assistance, but are now economic powerhouses. India is another example, as it has been able to ascend the ladder of development. Millennium Development Goals can serve as a framework for this type of assistance. Despite successes in U.S. development assistance, it has lacked a coherent strategy, which can lead to criticism.

Impact of foreign assistance:

Poverty-focused development assistance works. It has helped millions. They work towards achieving MDG’s such as decreasing child mortality rate, improving maternal health, achieving education, combating diseases, and also immunization and ways for farmers to improve their crop yields.

Combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases is also included as an impact of foreign assistance by receiving anti-retroviral medications and access to clean water.

Problems still face these nations, however, because of lack of creating holistic plans and other issues facing these nations, like debt, trade rules, poor governance, and conflicts as they attempt to improve conditions. These problems cannot all be solved with foreign aid or poverty-focused development assistance.

Improving foreign assistance:

Foreign assistance needs to be improved if we expect it to have better effects on nations and actually improve conditions globally. This comes with specific goals in U.S. foreign policy. Poverty reduction should be of primary focus, along with developing more poverty-focused funding in conjunction with MDG’s.

Development assistance should also be provided in conjunction with recipient countries in order to meet their own specific goals. Again, this is a respect factor—not going in and telling them what needs to happen. Civilian leadership also needs to be maintained, in addition to consolidating development assistance programs. Trade policies can also be better aligned with development assistance goals. Coordination with international donors can also help.

Fact sheet for gender equality and women’s empowerment:

2015—that is going to be here in less than three months and gender disparity in all levels of education have still not been eliminated.

Gender gaps in education have narrowed but not universally. Disparities still remain in the most excluded and marginalized regions. I was surprised to see that the document points out that gender parity has been achieved worldwide in primary schooling. There are still, of course, barriers.

Women have also been steadily gaining power in the world’s parliaments because of quota systems. However, in areas where no quota system was used, the amount of seats filled by women was almost cut in half—to 12 percent.

Women are also gaining ground in the labor market. Outside of the agricultural sector, it has slowly increased by five percent over a 10-year time frame. It still remains below 20 percent in other regions, such as Southern Asia. Women are still entering unequally into the labor market, even after taking into consideration level of education and skills.

Progress is being made but there’s still a long way to go. Gender gaps still need to be narrowed more and more until it is closed. As evidenced by the “What is working?” section, solutions are being made to help empower women across many different regions in many different issues—keeping girls in school, violence, budgeting, boosting roles in politics, and overcoming barriers to education.

As it says in the section about improving foreign assistance, “Development assistance should be provided in partnership with recipient countries to meet their long-term development goals.” Partnering between assistance and nation really helps in achieving success and meeting long-term goals.


My views of CRS’s position

If you could really help someone and make a difference in their life—would you?

An NGO such as CRS answers that question. CRS’s position on poverty-focused international assistance takes a direct approach to working with the poor and vulnerable.

A very important part to their statement is building a sustainable future for those in poverty. That’s crucial because if the assistance is not long-term and people are not taught how to make the help they received sustainable, then eventually those living in poverty will be right back where they started. That’s where myths can begin as well.

Contrasting CRS’s point of view to that of the viewpoint indicated in the article about Rand Paul is striking. In one interview, they indicate that Paul said that Israel was 10 years ahead of its neighboring countries in regard to defense. What if, however, by cutting foreign aid it meant that it was setting them 10 years back?

In another section, he indicates wanting to freeze foreign aid funding at $5 billion. $20 billion isn’t enough as it is now worldwide. How can it possibly be cut when it’s already less than one percent of the federal budget?

Though we as a country may have financial issues, I feel as though poverty-focused international assistance, if done the five points that make it successful (sustainable, scalable, capacity-building, respectful, local) it will have a global benefit. If countries are getting out of poverty then I would imagine that would have a global impact.

Whether I was a Catholic or not, I believe that they make a lot of good points that reinforce what we’ve already been learning this semester. As we said in class before, you don’t have to be a practicing Catholic to be involved with CRS. As a humanitarian group, it doesn’t matter what religion they practice—they’re still helping people climb the ladder of development. Helping people is the right thing to do but it also contributes to making a global impact.

The Catholic Social Teaching themes of solidarity and promotion of the common good are also present in this article as it relates to why people should care and how we can work towards solutions. We’re all one human family with brothers and sisters around the world and we all need to work towards the common good.

I think Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can also be seen. In the excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it talks about making food, clothing, education, etc. accessible in order to live a human life—our basic rights. CRS’s direct approach to international assistance and integrating the CST themes are steps in which to attain long-term development goals.

Oxfam and Gates

“A world with less poverty is a world that is safer, more prosperous, and more fair, protecting basic rights and liberties and defending the most vulnerable.” There are many myths that purport that development assistance and foreign aid is not necessary. This could not be further from the truth.

Just by looking at the Oxfam packet, you can see how development assistance helps people. The real stories they show of people getting out of poverty are great examples of how development assistance works. The stories showed how people were able to become self-sufficient and therefore help other villagers, partnering with an organization to eliminate pollution, working towards increased health services, and regulating overfishing. How did these people end up here? Through development assistance.

Development assistance is necessary because is helps people escape poverty and climb the ladder of development. The three myths that Bill and Melinda Gates write about must be dispelled too. The myths are:

  1. Poor countries are doomed to stay poor
  2. Foreign aid is a big waste
  3. Saving lives leads to overpopulation

Thinking in this manner will not help anything. Things have improved; people are climbing out of poverty, as well as living longer, healthier lives. Without long-term development assistance, many of these improvements would not have occurred.

Aid is made effective by dispelling myths. People aren’t going to want to help if they think their money is just going to some corrupt government leader, which of course isn’t true. Aid generosity plays a major part in making it effective and working towards progress, along with making sure it is long-term aid. Not only this, but we must discuss how to make aid work better, not if it works—a point mentioned on the Gates’ website.

Aid is also effective when we see real results, like in the real stories from Oxfam. People becoming self-sufficient, lowering child mortality rates, educating women, create jobs, using technology—these are just a few of the results that can be seen and demonstrate that aid really is effective.

As Bill Nye says in the video on the Gates’ website, we must “leave the world better than we found it.”

A few of the points that Melinda Gates makes in dispelling the myth that “saving lives leads to overpopulation” relates to women’s empowerment. She discusses ways to give information to women on how to plan pregnancies. She also says that many don’t have access to contraceptives or have much knowledge about them either.

In order to work towards women’s empowerment, they need to have more access to health services and also higher levels of education. She discusses adolescent brides and since they’re married so early, how they often they stop going to school and start having babies sooner. Women’s empowerment deals with needing to have access to education and health services.


USGLC, Oct. 16

Overcoming instability and promoting long-term development are key to international assistance efforts.

Programs must be set up to promote economic growth. An excerpt from America’s Global Leadership document was “These programs are not only the right thing to do; they are the smart thing to do because they advance America’s economic interests and sustain American leadership in the world.” It kind of reminded me of the Bono quote from the video when he said, “It’s not about charity, it’s about justice.”

Providing monetary aid is only one part of the equation. As we’ve discussed in class, you can’t just provide a whole sum of money to a developing country, leave and then expect results to be seen. In the Smart Power 2.0 brochure, a quote from President Bush says, “No national security strategy is complete in the long run without promoting global health, political freedom and economic progress.”

The USGLC supports long-term international development assistance because long-term development is the only way you can see results. They also cite multiple times how Smart Power 2.0 invests in effective development and diplomacy that enables the advancement of national security interests abroad. They do this by creating jobs, promoting national security and saving lives. Education is a key part to this as well because in the section where they mention investing in sustainable agriculture, it says how important it is to have long term, sustainable measures, like educating farmers on crop rotation. This leads to more knowledge in sustainable development so that results can be seen.

It also keeps the U.S. in the global marketplace. Development is crucial to improving national security. That is clearly demonstrated in the quote from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in the quote, “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.” It’s a lot cheaper in more ways than one and leads to a more long-term effect.

Commitment to ending global poverty is the task at hand. Economic development must be promoted through the long term so if we want to see the results proposed by the USGLC, we need to be in it for the long haul and realize it’s not a quick fix.

MDG preferences

  1. Gender equality and the empowerment of women
  2. Eradicate extreme poverty

Reflection, Oct. 14

“Similar conclusions have been reached in studies on African conflict, which find that poverty and slow economic growth raise the probability of conflict.” (Sachs, 333)

This sentence is important because it seeks to explain some of the root causes of conflict. Aside from the eight causes of poverty that Sachs cites in “The End of Poverty,” this takes a bit of a deeper look into how poverty causes other issues. That seems obvious that poverty causes problems but I don’t think conflict is something that everyone would think is one of them. There are many things that go into causing poverty but looking at it from the other end as to what poverty causes is important as well.

“Development provides the resources to build hope and prosperity, and security.” (Sachs, 335)

I think this sentence is important because it puts into perspective why development is important and looks to the future. When so much is spent on military spending, it’s important to also consider development assistance and how those resources can benefit everyone both now and in the future. By providing more developmental assistance, security will be heightened in the future and by working towards it, will hopefully give hope to people that prosperity can come out of the assistance.

“The first will transfer part of an overgrown military budget to the agenda of global security through economic development.” (Sachs, 346)

Like I said in my reflection for the last quote, it’s important to remember that 22 percent of the federal budget is spent on military. This quote emphasizes the importance of making a shift to including more resources for economic development so that so much of the budget may not have to be spent on military. If global security is improved, then not as much needs to be focused on military and economic development can take more of a stand in the federal budget. Global security means military budget gets decreased, even by a little, which then leaves room in the budget for more economic development. It comes full circle.

“They asserted their call to justice and made their stand in the face of official arrogance and neglect. The poor cannot wait for the rich to issue the call to justice.” (Sachs, 365)

Everyone should have the power to have their voice heard. Unfortunately many do not. Some, who are able to make their voice heard, don’t. Anyone can issue the call to justice and that is what this passage shows. What would have happened if people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi waited for someone else to “come to their rescue,” as the book words it. They didn’t just take a back seat to issues, they made their voices heard and worked for change. We can’t just sit back and hope that someone else speaks up—if we want change, we need to work toward it.

“Ending extreme poverty can relieve many of the pressures on the environment…As we invest in ending extreme poverty, we must face the ongoing challenge of investing in the global sustainability of the world’s ecosystems.” (Sachs, 367)

Reading this passage made me think of how beautification day is now occurring. We have to think of our environment as a resource on its own and it needs to be protected. Ending extreme poverty also makes it easier to maintain the wellbeing of the environment by promoting sustainable development. Taking care of the environment and our ecosystems are key to long-term development.

“In the end, however, it comes back to us, as individuals.” (Sachs, 367)

We as individuals have the power to make a difference in the world. Individually, we can all put a little into development that, therefore, adds up to a greater whole. No single person can change the world but working together, we as a community can at least work toward creating change. The accumulation of individual actions has the power to create a major social force for development. As the Robert Kennedy passage says, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation…”


Putting an end to poverty, Oct. 9

As Sachs points out in chapter 17, there are many reasons to end poverty. While some of his points aren’t very obvious, there are some clearer reasons as to why people should want to end poverty. Action that people should want to take not just because they’re reading it from a book.

Ending poverty should be a goal that everyone should have in their mind. One thing that really stuck out to me was an excerpt Sachs cites from Bush. There are basic human rights to which everyone should have accessibility. Maintaining development programs and working towards change “provides the resources to build hope, prosperity, and security…” Putting an end to poverty also decreases conflict and increases global security. By promoting development, things are made better for everyone.

Some of the key steps we should take are the calls to action and improvements that Sachs writes in the last few pages. We should also strive to not only say we’re going to help but actually acting on it.

As part of economic development, Sachs also mentions debt cancellation in the section about the Jubilee 2000.

Some of the key things that stuck out to me when reading the last few pages were the mention of the Millennium Development Goals. Those are the steps that need to be taken—basic rights, as demonstrated through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Catholic Social Teaching, have to be met so that people can rise from the poverty trap and climb the ladder of development. In taking action, poverty, eventually, can become a thing of the past.

Quite possibly what stuck out to me most was the very last page where Sachs uses a quote from Robert Kennedy, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation…” One person can’t change the world and eradicate poverty overnight. But by each of us holding a small role in development and by standing in solidarity, progress can be made.


The Myths of Poverty, Oct. 7

I think people believe the myths because various stereotypes and myths have existed for so long. Though some people educate others on the developing world, these stereotypes still exist, as does ignorance. I think some people choose to remain ignorant on certain issues.

People believe that the only thing that the developing world needs is money. As Bono said in the first video we watched this semester, “It’s not about charity, it’s about justice.” Thinking that the only thing the developing world needs is money is ignoring the human factor, which is something Sachs points out in chapter 16.

One point that I’ve learned this semester that helps me to see the greater complexity of the causes of poverty is food insecurity. Before this class, an image of UNICEF commercials showing bloated bellies and disease-ridden areas probably would have popped into my head.

But the issue is much more complex than what stereotypes/myths would have you believing.

Another point that I have learned this semester that helped me see the greater complexity of the causes of poverty is the history of colonialism. Some people believe the myth that people in developing nations are not hard working and do nothing to try to make their lives better, but many are crippled from their past of colonialism and the effects it still has on their country.

Sachs uses the eight causes of poverty to paint a wider picture of the difficulties that face developing countries. The poverty trap makes it difficult for people to climb the ladder of development. It is very hard for landlocked countries to have access to food and even if a country is not landlocked, the climate and lack of nutrition can be just as much of a deterrent.

Sachs also mentions in chapter 16 other causes of poverty. He mentions how poor governance can be seen in many developing countries, however, Africa “shows absolutely no tendency to be more or less corrupt than other countries at the same income level.”

How’s that for breaking down stereotypes?

There is no “magic bullet,” as Sachs points out, to end poverty. We have to put the human factor back into the equation so that stereotypes continue to be broken down and action taken to properly educate others.


Catholic Social Teaching, Oct. 2

One principle that is very important in making us realize why we should care about the human right to food is Community and the Common Good. In the second point, it reads, “The common good has to do with every person’s access to what they need to achieve a good life.”

As Article 25 points out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone should have the right to a “standard of living.” Food, however, is not just a standard of living; it is a necessity of survival. As someone mentioned on the GSN discussion board, food is a necessity, not an option. In order to bring awareness to food insecurity, people need to be looked at as people—not just a statistic or a number—so that human dignity may be at its highest level.

Another principal theme that applies to the human right to food is solidarity. By forming relationships in the global community, the issue becomes much less of a “they” problem and turns into a “we” solution.

I believe the 10 principles are helpful to my personal understanding of social justice. I’ve gone to Catholic school practically my entire life but Cabrini is the first that I’m really learning through social justice-based education. I don’t recall learning about the themes of Catholic Social Teaching or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in high school so it was very interesting and eye opening to learn about them in class.

I really didn’t think much of social justice before Cabrini. In high school, I never would have imagined that I would be going to lobby in DC in a couple of months and possibly going to Guatemala next semester.

By reading Sach’s “The End of Poverty,” it has helped me learn some of the root causes of poverty. Things like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the themes of Catholic Social Teaching can help find ways to educate ad raise awareness on the ways that we can help others make their ascent up the ladder of development and work together to promote social justice.


Food As A Human Right, Sept. 30

Adopting the position that food is a human right comes through one of the biggest ways of creating change: standing in solidarity. As the document about the Human Right to Food (HRF) said, “universal solidarity means every individual has a claim on nutritionally adequate food, because they are human beings.”

Solidarity is such an important tool for change. It encompasses obligations for governments and social solidarity in order to make strides towards a “freedom from hunger.” Advocating and educating on the issue of food security is also important. If people don’t know why it’s such a big scale problem, then it’s needs to be explained and the information passed down. Change doesn’t come overnight—working toward developmental assistance and progress takes time.

Back to the government having a role in making food a basic human right could be one of the obstacles as well. If a country has poor governance and is caught in a fiscal trap, then there’s not going to be much the government can do. That’s when social solidarity and advocating really become such important parts of the process.

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care…” That’s another problem. These are basic human rights but not every person has access to them. Another point taken from the Brenton and Messer document was the special obligation we have to assist the disadvantaged, including those with low income/low assets, women children, and marginalized groups. Community organizations can also help fill these gaps.

Another key aspect mentioned in the HRF document is the idea of sustainability. Our current needs can’t compromise the requirements and needs for future generations. This means, as a whole, that we can’t just think in the here and now—we need to think about how to make what we need now available for generations to come. This comes on both a personal and public level but also on a business level. The document mentions the importance of response to the impact of climate change. Both on an individual basis and a business level, we need to think about the footprint we’re leaving on the earth.

Everyone should have the basic need of access to food but some people are more vulnerable to food insecurity. Small-scale farmers lack access to land, water, and agricultural inputs as said in the HRF document. Public opinion and people’s personal perceptions on these problems need to be changed as well. That’s not an easy task but trying to work towards a common good of human rights is so crucial.

Changing individual perceptions can also help when you think about how much food is thrown away and wasted everyday when there are people out there starving.

Changing our own perceptions and coming together in solidarity are starts toward achieving a bigger goal of maintaining food as a basic right for everyone.


Community resilience, Sept. 25

These two articles presented any problems within food-insecure areas. But they also make a point to describe how these communities are strengthening themselves.

One key way that communities are making themselves stronger is through small internal lending communities. (SILC) Drought causes the farmer’s crops to fail leading to the farming needing to take out loans. Continuous drought, however, still leaves the farmer without food and now not able to pay back the loans. This is an absolute example of the poverty trap. Climate affects the crops, making it impossible for the farmers to pay back the loans, thus keeping them in poverty.

SILC works to make better conditions towards economic stability. Through community savings and social funds, women can spend on necessary things for their family while the men search to find work. CRS also works towards finding crops that have the highest yield in order to make more of a profit, productivity, and producing food with higher nutrition—a good example of utilization within some sort of food security.

Another key way communities are being strengthened is through reclaiming land. As in the example of Sahel, people would have to cut down trees for wood, causing more topsoil erosion and rainfall runoff. This leads to dry earth, making it nearly impossible to get a good crop yield, and flooding of local villages. You can see the domino effect in many of these examples but communities are working to improve stability. As in this example, ditches were built in order to collect the rainfall to distribute water through the earth. By planting more trees, it creates sellable products to make somewhat of a profit.

Another way CRS is providing community-strengthening initiatives is through their “Food for Education” program. This provides meals to schoolchildren, also making it an initiative to stay in school and get an education. Another example is providing family health services. Through a community-based approach, health services are available for ante and postnatal care, child vaccinations, and distribution of bed nets. Other health services include improvements in nutrition and hygiene. Another specific strategy that is looking ahead to community strengthening is the implementation of mobile technology making farming information accessible to farmers about crop prices and changes in the market.

CRS takes a very involved role in supporting community-strengthening strategies. They make programs to assist the people of those countries to improve security, profits, productivity, and more. By implementing different practices, it improves food security with higher yields of crops and works toward feeding schoolchildren to give the initiative to continue on in their education. With programs like these, malnutrition can be prevented before birth, community’s food security can be strengthened, education is promoted, and traditional stereotypes are broken down. With CRS’s assistance, these communities can come to find long-term stability.


Food Insecurity, Sept. 23

Many stereotypes need to be shattered as it relates to food insecurity. Before I read anything on the website, I took the IQ test without having watched the videos or clicked around the site. I got two wrong—one of which was clearly explained in the website. After I read the sections and watched the videos, I got them all correct, however, I did not notice anywhere on the website where they mention how much it costs per day to feed a child.

It also made me realize how ignorant we are when it comes to the topic of food security.

One of the questions really struck me. “True or False: There is enough food in the world for everyone.” Had I not taken a class that mentioned this very piece of information, I probably would have been inclined to say false. Of course, it must be false. How could there be 842 million people who are undernourished and 1 billion malnourished if there was enough food for everyone?

I learned the hard truth, however, in my biology class last year. In “Biology Perspectives of ENS,” we spent time talking about food security and how there is, in fact, enough food for everyone worldwide. Because of poor distribution and lack of resources though (among other factors), not all 7 billion people get access to this basic right of living.

One of the major factors that could give a better understanding of food (in)security would be the way food security is defined. Food may be available in certain areas but part of the problem lies in having no accessibility to the food. Poor infrastructure, like no roads to get to the market, means families have no access to food. They may not have the money to pay for it either.

Another striking part after watching these videos/studying the sites was the presence of Sach’s eight causes of poverty. Poverty trap is mentioned as one of the causes of hunger, while governance is discussed in the second CRS video in the graphic on “cross-cutting” theme. Poor governance could be a root cause.

The problem does not just have an effect in Africa, in fact, more people are affected in Asia and the Pacific.

When I saw this question and how it started off with “TV news clips and fund-raising appeals,” I immediately thought of commercials you would see sponsored by organizations like UNICEF and celebrity sponsors like Alyssa Milano asking, “What would you do?” The commercial makes the emotional plea to help stop international child hunger but fails to explain the root causes.

Obviously, commercials like these only have a short amount of time to grab the viewer’s attention and make them feel compelled to donate, however, not taking that time to educate people doesn’t help much either. The children are portrayed with the bloated bellies, in disease-ridden areas.

But there’s much more to the story than that.


Sept. 18 Life and Debt

Throughout this film, the relationships between rich and poor, tourist and native are strikingly juxtaposed. On one side, it is showing the fun, tropical and worry-free side of Jamaica. On the other hand, it shows what the natives live through every day, the struggles that many tourists will not see.

As portrayed in the film, globalization has caused many problems for little countries like Jamaica. One man says how his production of produce wasn’t taken because it “didn’t meet the standard,” while another man talk about cross conditionality. The fiscal trap and geopolitics may come into play here because he describes how the IMF and World Bank gave money to support agriculture and manufacturing but asked the Jamaican people to abandon their local subsidies and imports.

The economic relations are also impacted because he points out how there is no government regulation to lower trade barriers. “Nobody can compete with that,” one person says as they’re talking about the trading of bananas because they’re more expensive to produce than it is in South America. This leaves no access to the American market.

What started as at first as a seemingly good portrayal of globalization turned very quickly to be just as bad. The people working in the Free Zone garment sector only get paid the equivalent of $30 in the United States every other week…at least that’s how often it’s supposed to be. If they do not sew a certain amount of clothing per day, then they don’t get paid at all. There’s no government to hold accountable and when 800 Asian workers were brought in because the Jamaican people had “no skills,” it caused factories to close. One woman said about the Free Zone as “It’s for the poor but I don’t see it.”

Much like the Congo, certain parts of Jamaica are still affected by the roots of colonialism, which make it very difficult to improve conditions for things like education and hospitals. It also makes it very hard for them to be self-sustaining. One man points out how one IMF program doesn’t give any money but they still have to do what they want them to do. They talk about how they collect money to pay interest but they don’t invest in people. No capital is helping make a self-sustained nation and neither growth nor poverty reduction is being achieved.

I really don’t know how globalization could be improved. Obviously relationships between the countries need to be stronger and more equalized but the causes of poverty, like geopolitics and fiscal trap, make that very difficult.


Sachs Ch. 10-11, Sept. 16

Over the last 500 years, the ways in which the West has crippled Africa in its growth are some Western officials believing that Africa “simply needs to behave itself better to allow market forces to operate without interference by corrupt rulers,” according to Sachs. Sachs also points out how in the 1980s and 1990s, the West enforced draconian budget policies.

Africa has also come under bad governance, imposed by the West including the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. The colonial era left Africa without educated citizens and leaders, infrastructure and basic health needs. The land was also divided poorly, making resources accessible to only a certain group.

Sachs also points out that one of the ways the West crippled Africa was by long backing the South African apartheid regime and meddling in political crises. The one thing that Sachs says is the most detrimental of all, however, is that the West “would not” invest in long-term African economic development. This left Africa crippled and without basic medicine and aids against diseases such as malaria. All of these ways in which the West crippled Africa include many of Sach’s eight causes of poverty, including geopolitics, geography, cultural barriers and, most importantly, poverty trap which keeps them on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder of development.

The connection between extreme poverty and AIDS and malaria is that they are both a causation of each other. “Poverty certainly exacerbates malaria by leaving impoverished households and governments without the financial means to fight the disease,” Sachs writes. Poverty is a breeding ground for malaria and AIDS because it leaves people without the basic protection of bed nets and medication.

Malaria can also cause poverty as well. It puts a complete halt on important “investment projects” that are vital to a country’s survival. Malaria being so present in Africa is a cause of it being such a tropical, warm-weather continent. This makes humans much more appealing to the mosquitoes. As Sachs points out, “Malaria sets the perfect trap: it impoverishes a country, making it too expensive to prevent and treat the disease.” This causes a cycle of growing malaria cases and deepening poverty.

People in Africa also don’t have access to the vital antiretroviral medication needed to treat AIDS. Poverty comes from so many people dying of this disease and lack of funding from the West. In one section, Sachs points out how the mortality rate of 47-years old. How can a country expect to support itself when its people are dying from such horrible diseases with not enough help from external forces? It reminds me of the photo that we looked at and reflected upon in class: “These eyes have seen too much” and they have seen too much death and have had eyes turned away.

The purpose of the Millennium Development Goals is “to achieve sustainable development for the world’s poorest people.” Of the goals that include cutting poverty and disease, the Millennium Development Goals also make a point to say how important it is to have a committed global partnership. The main arguments Sachs makes for why the West should fund them is that all the money that is spent on the war on terror could be used to assist poverty-stricken areas. “To fight terrorism, we will need to fight poverty and deprivation as well,” Sachs writes.

He also points out that the “societies in which terrorism lurks” is also where there is extreme poverty, unmet needs, political instability, etc. You cannot fix one without fixing the other. Efforts have to be made to commit efforts to economic development in order to save millions of lives and promote global security.


The Current State of the Republic of the Congo

Despite receiving its independence in 1960, the Republic of the Congo still feels the repercussions from the colonialism days and of Leopold II, and even far beyond when it was granted independence. Lumumba wanted a unified Congo, however, he was eventually captured and assassinated. After his capture, an airport was closed so he could not appeal to soldiers loyal to him while also closing the radio station so Lumumba couldn’t appeal to the population as a whole.

His assassination sparked demonstrations and eventually, Mobutu seized power and used violence against the people. He exploited the country in ways that were similar to Leopold. He exploited their riches, had overseas bank accounts, held titles to over 30 properties. As the video said, all in all it was estimated to be $4 billion.

Another setback was the mining of the mineral coltan, which is also a conflict mineral. It perpetuates the violence of a civil war, pillaging and fighting. It is used in cell phones, computer chips, transportation and more. 73 percent of the world’s reserves of coltan are in the Congo and people are either unaffected or unaware of these economic exploitations.

One part of the video also reminded me of one of the eight causes of poverty. When one person was talking about how there were no resources to profit from in the forest, I thought about how the geography of where he is placed in the Congo affects his profit. The country itself may have vast natural resources but it doesn’t mean everyone has access to them in order to make somewhat of a profit. Many times, the resources don’t benefit the Congolese people.

Another cause of a major setback was when Bemba and Kazini organized the looting of coffee beans. There loot was so vast, it bankrupted the Congolaise Societe of Coffee, as the video points out. Eventually, as it was discovered down the road, money had also been embezzled about $5 million.

The section of the video where they discuss capitalism can also be related back to a major cause of poverty. In it, one of the people say, “[It is] a better way to make money than through taxes and foreign aid. The exploitation of these natural resources can lead to a fiscal trap. The people are so poor that the government does not collect taxes.

The conflict has not yet come to an end and the Congo still faces setbacks. “Armed conflict, disease, forced labor, starvation and the legacy of Leopold still haunts the Congo today.” As is said in the video, there are not only riches in natural resources but also human resources. Those resources must be channeled to diminish the violence and end the exploitation of riches.


Why the DRC is so poor

Forced labor, terror, greed and more ravaged the DRC for years. The actions that occurred have left a horrible cycle of being stuck in poverty.

The video begins by describing some of the DRC’s rich natural resources—ivory, timber, copper, gold, uranium, coffee, diamonds and coltan—natural resources that didn’t do much to benefit the people of the DRC. The “poorest in the world” was taken over by a reign of terror by the hands of King Leopold II of Belgium.

Leopold stole much, if not all, of the riches for himself. The video describes how he took 50 percent ownership of things, interest free, skimmed huge profits off the top—hardly leaving manageable conditions for the poor people who were literally forced into forced labor.

Despite investigative journalists like George Washington Williams, Casement and Sheppard, many of the inexplicable horrors of the DRC would not have been exposed. They shed light on the forced labor, the severed hands, the dangers on the part of the people of rubber extraction and countless other horrors.

Colonization left nothing for the people of the DRC to claim as their own. At the end of the video, when they talk about Leopold’s death, I couldn’t believe that $1.1 billion of wealth had been stolen from the Congo and he never even set foot in the land. To think that in a 40-year period, half of the population of the DRC was lost is unimaginable.

As we learned last week, there are eight major causes of extreme poverty and the DRC could fall into various categories. They’re stuck in a poverty trap in which they cannot lift themselves out for lack of tangible assets, money, physical and other characteristics.

Possibly one of the most striking metaphors to come out of the video was the example of the pie. He wanted pieces of “pie” for his own gain through avenues of misinformation and terror. As we learned in class, it’s not about taking each individual slice of pie but making more for everyone. The DRC is definitely an example of needing help to ascend the ladder of development.


Sept. 2 Global Family Portrait

The principal differences among the four types of countries represented by Malawi, Bangladesh, India, and China can be seen through the ladder of development. Some countries, like Malawi, barely have a foothold while a country like China is steadily making it’s way up the rungs.

When I read about Malawi, certain parts reminded me of books we read in ECG 200: Bridges to Swaziland. There are entire generations being wiped out because of the AIDS epidemic and they are stuck in a cycle. There are no rains so there are no crops to feed the people, who suffer from malnutrition as it is.

The principal differences can also be summarized, as Sachs points out, through “poorest of the poor,” “the poor,” the middle-income world and the high-income world.

Sachs also mentions main causes of the differences for each country. Malawi is devastated by the AIDS epidemic and lack of medicine, making it very hard for them to “begin their climb out of poverty.”

In Bangladesh, he points out the conditions that young women have to face while working in the garment industry of Dhaka. This gives Bangladesh a chance, however, to get onto the first rung of the ladder of development. As he points out, being able to work is seen as a good opportunity, as they are given the chance for personal liberation. It’s a start.

Writing about India, Sachs points out that they are “several steps up the ladder.” The cause for this is the IT revolution, giving people (especially educated young women) the chance to work and bring in an income.

The biggest difference can be seen in China. As Sachs mentions, they are in full economic development, with a growing economy and an increase in their exports. It was even surprising to see him write that in 2005, when he saw the cell phones lying on tables and his hosts even having digital cameras built in, that “this was a gadget that he had not yet seen back home.”

Perhaps the most shocking thing to read in this chapter was just how many people don’t even have their foot on the rung of the ladder of development. It is unbelievable that the poorest of the poor accounts for 1/6 of humanity. Also shocking was the section about funding for AIDS, TB and malaria in Malawi being cut to only 25,000 at the end of five years, when there’s 3 million suffering from malaria and 900,000 from AIDS.

Compared to some of the things that these four countries have to deal with and the principal differences that distinguish each other, the United States can be seen as a catalyst for change. As Sachs writes, “Our generation’s challenge is to help the poorest of the poor to escape the misery of extreme poverty so that they may begin their own ascent up the ladder of economic development.” (Sachs, 24) The United States doesn’t have nearly as much of a divide between classes; economic class systems are “the poor,” middle-income and high-income. It our responsibility to help these countries and others suffering “have a chance to climb the ladder of development.”


Bono, Aug. 28

Bono speaks of equality of opportunity immensely in both the foreword of “The End of Poverty” and in his speech. When I think of what causes a lack of equality of opportunity, I think of lack of education, terrorist groups, poverty, ignorance and poor distribution of wealth.

Many people are unable to have equality of opportunity, in a large part, because of poverty. In the foreword of “The End of Poverty” Bono writes, “…the end of poverty. It’s a challenge that’s hard to ignore.” He says in the video that 150,000 Africans die of things that could be prevented. “If we really accept that their lives—African lives—are equal to ours, we would all be doing more to put the fire out.” He adds that equality is connected to freedom—apathy and indifference our some of the biggest challenges in the fight towards equality of opportunity. It is one of the reasons why people are unable to have equality of opportunity, in part, because they lack freedom.

As Bono spoke about the issue of AIDS in Africa, I couldn’t help but think back to my ECG 200: Bridges to Swaziland class. In that class, we would discuss the issues of that country. Some people didn’t know how to prevent it and, if they did contract it, they had no available resources to them.

Bono says in the video that the medicine that we have an abundance of could be of great use in the fight against AIDS. We take for granted sometimes the resources available to us that could be of great benefit to someone living in poverty.

Another example of the lack of equality of opportunity is shown through Malala Yousafzai. She was shot for wanting an education. As we saw in the video during our first class, she did not let them stop her. She now advocates on the part of all the women and children that don’t have education as an option in their life.

One of the quotes that stuck out to me most from Bono’s speech was when he said, “You change minds, you change policy, you change the world.” Nothing can be changed by simply using words—you have to act. That is where advocacy and lobbying come in. He also says that God is with the poor and the vulnerable and we have to get involved in what God is doing. We can’t just stand back; action has to be taken against the lack of equality of opportunity.

The condition of the world with regard to the equality of opportunity can be seen in places like Africa and the Middle East. There’s disease, poverty, oppression and more that affects these countries. Being judgmental about these places does no good—you have to be accepting and, in doing so, try to help any way that you can. “It’s not about charity,” Bono says. “It’s about justice.” It is about promoting and finding equality, standing in solidarity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s