How much would you expect the Australian Government to give to help the world’s poor? Where does our responsibility begin to help the poor and what constitutes a good reason to cut what we give in foreign aid?
Talk in Australian politics, ever since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), has been about bringing the budget back to surplus.
The Government recently noted the possible cuts to the promised $2.7 Billion spending boost to foreign aid as part of the Governments promise to meet the UN Millenium Development Goals (MGDs) spending target of 0.5% of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015. This was a promise the Government made in 2007 under then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and since then we have more than doubled our spending from that of the Howard government era. However, now with further economic pressures, the comparatively small about of spending that currently goes to foreign aid is in the firing line. Read the rest of this entry
You can choose to buy a Fairtrade easter egg this Easter, or drink a Rainforest Alliance ethical brand of coffee… but can you choose to simply not engage? Can you choose not to be involved in ethical shopping and consumerism?
Many people think that being involed with social justice in the products they buy is something they can choose to be involved in or simply opt out. In addition, many people think that the only way you can be involved in ethical shopping is by seeking an ethically certified product. These are usually certified as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance or something similar.
Most of our choices when shopping are made due to cost and convience. We seek the cheapest price, the best value for money and we will settle for a particular product because it’s there and its too hard to search for an alternative. Where a product does not have the possibility to buy something ethically certified, does this mean we can not be involved in making ethical choices?
One point raised by TEAR’s worshop discussion is that it is impossible to “not be involved”, to opt out. Even being uninformed does not mean you are not involved. We are all involved whether we want to be or not, whether we are informed or not. Our choices at the shops are ethical choices whether we want them to be or not, whether we are informed or not. Read the rest of this entry
Invisible Children’s campagin to bring down Joseph Kony has gone viral!
IC is an organisation that strode to promence when they released videos about the tragic child soldiers in Uganda, the DRC and Sudan, many of which have been abducted by Kony’s Lord’s Resistence Army (LRA).
The IC Campaign sates:
KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.
But how do they seek to do this? And is this the best way?
The IC Kony 2012 campaign states:
We are taking action to ensure these two things
1) That Joseph Kony is known as the World’s Worst War Criminal.
2) That the U.S. military advisers support the Ugandan Army until Kony has been captured and the LRA has been completely disarmed. They need to follow through all the way and finish what they have started
Seems nobel enough. I myself would love to see the end of child soldiers and the violence, the murders, rape and kidnapping that the LRA has conducted since 1987. Read the rest of this entry
It’s a fair bet that if Jesus Christ were around today, he’d be doing what the Owens are doing in Mount Druitt. They feed the poor and house the homeless. They lead the lost and counsel the conflicted…
They’re experts at unconditional love: alcoholic mums, runaway kids, petty thieves, everyone’s welcome at the Owens’ home, a four-bedroom brick house that for the past five years has been equal parts street kitchen and safe house, as well as a home for their daughters Kshama, 8, and Kiera, 7.
“The most we’ve had here is 13 people,” Jon says, showing me around the cramped, single-storey home, the floors of which are strewn with sheets and sleeping bags. “They crash on the couches, on the floor. It’s busy, but it’s fun, too, especially at dinner time.”
Later on in September (or early October) this year I will become a Dad for the first time. Over the last 8 or so months, Katie and I have been getting thing ready and organised for the new arrival - Doctor’s visits, ante-natal class, ultrasounds, blood tests, vaccinations, buying cots, car seats, baby clothes. It is amazing just how much time, care and preparation goes into becoming a parent, not to mention all the lovely gifts you receive from baby showers and friends and family showing that they love you. Katie has had a great time of being pregnant (for the most part) and is doing a terrific job… but for a lot of Mums-to-be in the world, it is not all that simple. Check out these stats from Micah Challenge:
- 60 million women around the world will be delivering a baby this year without skilled attendant or midwife
- Life time risks of maternal death in Australia is 1 in 13000 , in Greece and Italy it is 1 in 25000, while in Ireland it is less than 1 in 47600. Meanwhile in Africa as a continent it is 1 in 16 , while it is 1 in 8 in Afghanistan and only 1 in 7 in Niger (see The Best and Worst Places to be a Mother report) .
- This year, one woman will die every minute from pregnancy related complications. But almost all of the funding and research done on maternal health is done to reduce the 1% of deaths in rich western countries like our own, Australia.
- 4 million babies die each year before they are 28-days old.
- 99% of child deaths occur in less developed countries.
- 9.2 million children die each year before they reach the age of 5 – about 7 million of these deaths could be easily prevented with affordable measures.
Katie and I live in Australia, therefore we are likely to have a healthy baby and Mum and if something did go wrong we would have skilled attendants and technology to help us out. In fact, according to Save the Children, a report issued in 2010 about The Best and Worst Places to be a Mother listed Australia and Norway to be the best places to be a mother in the world, meanwhile, in Ethiopia, 1 in 5 children will not reach their 5th birthday. I can’t even imagine giving birth on a dirt floor, in a hut, by yourself, with no pain relief… and even if that was a success, just because you live where you do your baby has a much higher chance of dying before the age of 5. All this because you are too poor, too remote and are unable to access basic health services…
Some Mothers in these less developed countries are “lucky” and do recieve help. In some countries NGOs and other organisations are seeking to provide Mother’s with basic care to give them a better chance of survival and to give their babies a lesser chance of infection at birth and a better start in life. There are still no doctors, still no midwives, still no blood tests or ultrasounds. What the “lucky” ones get is a maternal heath pack, such as the ones provided by The Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia). This pack could save their life and the life of the baby. Consists of:
- A clean razor blade to cut the umbilical cord
- A pair of latex gloves for the person helping to deliver the baby who is probably unskilled and untrained)
- A plastic sheet for the mother to give birth on so that they are not giving birth on a dirty or even dirt floor
- A bar of soap for clean hands and to clean the stumps
- Gauze pads (x5) to wipe the baby and for any other fluids
- Cotton cord to tie the umbilical cord
That’s it. Nothing more… and they are the lucky ones, but it could save their live.
Its not fair that I get to live in a country such as Australia with all the technology and free health services that are availble to me, while others are left with nothing. We will probably be showered with gifts and have too much stuff to handle… we’ll probably have to give stuff away without even using it because we’ll have too much. Yet, so many woman and children will go without to the extent that it will cost them their life….
From reading a FB discussion I was directed to a BBC News video where a BBC reporter interviewed two females who seemed to be involved in the UK riots. While they were somewhat affected by alcohol (at 9.30am!!), their response as to why the riots were occuring was somewhat insightful.
One girl said, “The reason we riot is because we’re showing the police we can do what we want. That’s what it’s all about, showing the police we can do want we want and now we have.” But when questioned about why they were trashing local people’s shops and why the riots were affecting people in thier own community, one girl said, “It’s the rich people, the people who’ve got businesses, and that’s why all of this has happened, because of the rich people. We’re just showing the rich people we can do what we want.”
The original violence appears to have stemed from the police shooting of a 29-year man in Tottenham, North London (see News Article). However, the rioting and looting that has extended to areas outside of London, including Manchester and Liverpool, do not appear to be directly related to this event. The events in Tottenham may have been a catalyst but now something else appears to be driving the unrest and violence. Perhaps this girl’s opinion sheds some light on what may be going on under the surface.
The interesting thing about these statements is that these two girls are angry with “the rich”. However “the rich” are not the mega-rich millionaires of London but “the people who’ve got businesses”. A British government comissioned report in 2010 noted that the gap between the wealthy and the poor in the UK was the widest it’s been in 40 years (see Report). It suggests that the richest 10% are around 100 times better off than the poorest 10% of society. In addition, the UK’s social mobility (the ability to move between social or economic status’) is the lowest in the developed world. This means that poor families in the UK have a greater chance of struggling on a low income than poor families in other developed countries. Whether or not this gap obviously exists between people such as these girls and their local business owners (as opposed to reported gap between the bottom 10% and the top 10% of wealthy people), I can not say as I do not have nearly enough knowledge on Bristish politics and social issues to make that kind of judgement. But what is apparent is, for some, the feelings of oppression and resentment towards those in power (ie police and government) and those with power (ie the wealthy) obviously exist and appears to be contributing, in some instances, as a motivating factor for the continuing violence and rioting.
Even if the gap between rich and poor is not the primary motivating factor, the idea that all this violence is a result of opportunistic thugs and vandals I think is perhaps a little simplistic. No doubt there is opportunistic thuggery that needs to be condemned, and I am in no way wanting to make those involved any sort of heros of some more valiant cause. It is what it is – out of control thuggery, inexplicable violence, rioting and looting. It is damaging the community, familes, businesses and individual lives. But it all must point to deeper resentment, a dissatisfaction with the status quo and feelings of hopelessness across generations. The shooting may have been the catalyst, the riots may have lead to opportunistic violence, but perhaps they are just a surface expression of deeper and more concerning issues.
What should our response be as of a follower of Jesus?