Our Fight Against Poverty


Clinging on to the battered and ragged seat of the tired little mini-van I gaze out of the dirty window at the scene before me.

The reality of every day life for the children of the large Ugandan slum is overwhelming my senses. The intense smell of burning rubbish and fish frying, the sound of hungry babies crying, the sight of a mothers’ frustration at not being able to nourish her family adequately and the intense desperate atmosphere of a vast quantity of people living in conditions where even the rats and vermin look emaciated.

Tiny children are picking their way through mounds of rubbish in an attempt to salvage useful scraps. They dig their way through rusty tin cans, rotting food and even toilet waste in the hope of being able to alleviate their hunger or to discover an item of little value which can be sold or exchanged.

The rags they wear barely protect their frail bodies from the harsh conditions they are forced to cope with and every step they take with those small bare feet across the dangers of the rubbish heap make my toes curl in sympathy.

Hungry hands stretch up to the windows of the van as it careers to a halt at what I can only assume is a junction, imploring the passengers to share their food or water. Brown eyes unnaturally too large for their faces, set on fragile looking necks and shoulders turn curiously to the white Westerners, tentative smiles are exchanged and I notice that the impact of these smiles is diminished somewhat by the condition of their teeth, lips and gums. Our open and outgoing grins deepen and sadden as we realize the full extent of the effects of poverty and malnutrition on the whole community.

We look around trying to absorb the scene around us, glance at each other and sigh, Ghandi’s poignant words come to mind, “Poverty is the worst form of violence”. It has beaten people into submission and their culture has almost become defined by the abject poverty they are born into. However, their spirits have stayed strong and resilient; religious faith, community spirit and a genuine human instinct for survival has allowed the people to remain friendly, welcoming and above all hopeful.

Poverty has been the greatest shame and scandal of our era. At the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, 189 world leaders promised to end poverty by 2015, which translates into committing themselves to the realization of eight goals agreed on during the Summit, that is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).These countries signed the Millennium Declaration, promising to ‘free men, women and children from the dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty’, committing developed and developing countries alike to these eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is a commitment made to ensure the respect of human rights as well as pursuing peace and development in order to make the world a better place by the year 2015.

The challenge of global poverty is not simply going to disappear. It is an issue that humanity, as a whole, must undertake. Poverty is a gross violation of human rights and it is our responsibility as global citizens to take action and make a difference.

(Author: Fiona Munton)

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~ by medipmalta on October 27, 2009.

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