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Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

8 goals for Africa

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

The ‘8 GOALS FOR AFRICA’ song is part of an awareness and advocacy campaign developed by the United Nations in South Africa on the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The MDGs are an eight-point road map with measurable targets and clear deadlines for improving the lives of the world´s poorest people. They make up the Millennium Declaration, which was an historic promise made by 189 world leaders in 2000. Ten years later our leaders are meeting again on 20 September in New York to review the progress, it is up to us to make sure world leaders keep their promise.

The ‘8 GOALS FOR AFRICA’ music video will be screened throughout the Football World Cup. On the day of the finals, all 8 artists will come together to sing the song in a live performance at the Soccer City Fan Fest in Johannesburg.

For more information about this campaign go to

On the ‘who should i cheer for’ website you can compare the teams according to their level of social and environmental responsibility.’

‘Who should I cheer for’

The Life You Can Save

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

If we could easily save the life of a child, we would. For example, if we saw a child in danger of drowning in a shallow pond, and all we had to do to save the child was wade into the pond, and pull him out, we would do so. The fact that we would get wet, or ruin a good pair of shoes, doesn’t really count when it comes to saving a child’s life.

UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, estimates that about 24,000 children die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Yet at the same time almost a billion people live very comfortable lives, with money to spare for many things that are not at all necessary. (You are not sure if you are in that category? When did you last spend money on something to drink, when drinkable water was available for nothing? If the answer is “within the past week” then you are spending money on luxuries while children die from malnutrition or diseases that we know how to prevent or cure.)

The Life You Can Save seeks to change this. If everyone who can afford to contribute to reducing extreme poverty were to give a modest proportion of their income to effective organizations fighting extreme poverty, the problem could be solved. It wouldn’t take a huge sacrifice.

But first we need to change the culture of giving – to make giving to help the needy something that any normal decent person would do. To help bring about this change, we need to be upfront about our giving. Will you take the pledge, and thereby encourage others to do the same?

For more details, and sources for the claims made here, please see the book The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty.

A fair world

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

The second pillar of sustainable development

Su’Ad Muse

diversitystickyIf we were to imagine the perfect world, everybody would think of something different. But it’s safe to assume the first thing we’d all think of is people. Probably smiling, happy people, living in peace with each other and in harmony with nature. Sustainable development strives to achieve such a ‘perfect world’, one we can all agree on and which provides for us now and in the future. In this world there is no place for oppression and injustice, so it comes as no surprise that Social Equity is one of the four pillars of sustainable development

Social equity is about people. It strives to re-enforce Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “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 and necessary social services and the right to security…” The concept of social equity boils down to one basic idea – fairness. This means everyone, regardless of sex, race, age, nationality or religion, has their basics needs accounted for and has the opportunity to lead dignified, comfortable lives. But for this to happen some things have got to change.


Poverty is the most obvious barrier to establishing social equity, because if one lives in poverty most, if not all, of their needs as a human being are not met. Poverty is not a state reserved for starved children in Africa. Believe it or not poverty is everywhere. Due to war, famine, political unrest, disease, economic fluctuations or even simply lack of social services 1.4 billion people worldwide live below the poverty line – that’s a 1/4 of humanity! The problem is more severe in developing countries yet even the developed world is not completely safe guarded – every year 3 million people are reported homeless in the USA, with similar figures in Russia. So the stats are there, the question now is how can we improve the situation?

Show me the money!

mdgsgoaloneThe turn of the last century saw the establishment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the UN, eight goals to be achieved by 2015. Goal one is to cut extreme poverty in half. One of the major ways countries can help to achieve this goal, and the seven other goals, is by allocating 0.7% of their annual national income, know as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to aid and development. 0.7% doesn’t sound like much, but we are about five years out from the deadline and only five countries (The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Norway, Sweden and Denmark) have reached the target amount. The UN stresses the MDGs can be reached, but the richest countries in the world are going to need to dig deep. Change is simply not possible without the money.

Take Action

  • Support the MDGs by joining this years ‘Stand Up and Take Action’ campaign, you can find more information at  Get involved and break a world record while you’re at it!
  • Order your books online from all the profit go to Oxfam and you’ll be ‘turning the page on poverty’.

Child rights

happy-childrenChildren and young people are humanities greatest asset. It’s only common sense then that the welfare of children be protected. The simplest way of doing this is by promoting and upholding children’s rights. The United Nations Convention of the Right of the Child has been adopted by every nation of earth (except two) and is concerned solely with children and their specific needs. However many children around the world are denied their rights and are exploited and abused. But before we get on our high horses and think New Zealand is above such madness, here are a couple of humbling (yet shocking) facts: 55 children were killed in New Zealand in the last five years due to abuse, 17 of which were under the age of one; our child homicide rate is increasing whereas other developed countries rates are decreasing; 25% of kiwi kids live in poverty (as defined by New Zealand).

Anti smacking or pro rights?

Aotearoa New Zealand has taken steps to address these issues with a nation wide anti-domestic violence campaign last year and the Repeal of Section 59. These steps are all heading in the right direction, and with Aotearoa New Zealand dealing with the issues on our own doorstep, we are in a better position to support the child rights movement globally. Save the Children, the UN and many other charitable organisations are working for children around the world.  The Save the Children ‘Re-write the future’ programme, for example, works to educate children in conflict– affected areas. Education not only allows children to understand their rights, but enables them to break the poverty cycle and gives them hope for the future.

Take Action

  • Get informed! Find out more about the Repeal of Section 59 and the upcoming referendum.
  • Campaign for the rights of children and become active in this field, contact Save the Child NZ and Action for children and youth Aotearoa
  • If you’re outraged by the child homicide rate, voice your opinion- write letters to the editors, write for your school newspaper, because every persistent individual makes a difference in the long run!
Scales of justice, The Guildhall, City of Bath

Scales of Justice

(Un)Fair pay

Say two people, perhaps a black or white person, or a man and a woman, did the same job to the same standard. You would think they would get paid equally wouldn’t you? Unfortunately in many places, this is not the case. From young children in developing countries who are drastically under paid (or not even paid at all!) for their labour, to women in the west whose wages in some places are 47% less then their male counterparts, unfair pay affects people’s ability to look after themselves and their families. It can also affect whole countries. If people are exploited for cheap labour, and not paid enough, the GDP of the developing countries remains relatively low and the cycle of poverty continues. It is truly sad that people have their basic needs denied, not because they do not work hard for them, but because others pay them unfairly.

Take Action

  • As an employee know your rights, if you believe you are being paid unfairly take action start by having a chat to Youthline 0800 376633 or visit who can help you.
  • To support fair pay in the developing world buy fair trade

Sustainable development is about establishing a fair and just world for the people of today, and also of tomorrow. Establishing social equity should be one of our main priorities, because if we could insure everyone had their basic needs accounted for, humanity could collectively work together to solve other pressing issues facing us, like looking after Mother Earth. We can’t wait, however, for someone else to make the change, we have to be the change ourselves!

Learn more (references)pretty-tree

Speak out! Be heard!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Su’Ad Muse


Photo by Coc@ CC

Raising awareness about issues in our communities, and around the world, is one the most powerful ways we can make a difference and create change. Dr Phil, our favourite TV psychologist, famously said “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”. But you can’t acknowledge what you don’t know. So change needs to begin with knowledge. All it takes is one person to speak out and spread the word.

And, young people all over the world have done just that. First, they focused on the issues they were passionate about: from climate change poverty and domestic violence, to sustainability, education and conflict. Then, using their talents and doing what they love most, they found creative ways, such as music, dance and film to get their message across. These young people did not rest until they were heard loud and clear. Most importantly, no matter what anyone said, they refused to be silenced.

The beat of change
“Through music we changed our reality.” AfroReggae member Anderson Sa

From the favelas (slums) of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in the midst of racism, poverty, gang warfare and drugs, there came a beat - a beat of change and new beginnings. In 1993, police gunned down 21 innocent people to avenge the deaths of three murdered cops. A group of young friends reacted and decided that enough was enough. They understood that fighting back with sticks and stones was not the way. As young as they were, they knew that violence only leads to more violence. A new way of bringing about change, that would make people listen, was needed.


Photo by Megan Cole CC

Music was their answer and so AfroReggae was born. The favela was a place of poverty; they had no instruments, no teachers, no money, nothing. But that didn’t stop them. With whatever they could find, trash cans, bottles, tins, they played their music. AfroReggae was as much a social movement as they were a musical sensation. Their music was funky and fresh, but most importantly it carried a message. It was a medium to show the true realities of favela life and make political statements.   

AfroReggae didn’t only make music. The group strongly believed youth needed to be educated to stop the cycle of drug trafficking and violence. Right from the beginning, using music and dance, they set up projects and programmes to show young people that they had opportunities in life. Alongside youth, AfroReggae also worked to unify the favela and making it a safer environment. They exposed corrupt cops, staged talks with drug lords and held free and regular concerts in the favela, bringing the people together not just to entertain them, but empower them.

They did all this with the determination to create change pushing them forward. And with their plastic drums and rubbish cans they slowly started to gain momentum. So much so that, in 2000, the group signed an international record deal. Staying true to their cause, AfroReggae vowed to put their earning from their record deal back into there projects. They have now expanded globally with a strong UK partnership and over 3000 young people in Rio participating in music, dance, theatre and circus programmes. What started as a simple beat is now a global rhythm. Indeed, through music they changed their reality.

The dusty foot philosopher
K’naan Warsame, a Canadian musician, originally came from Mogadishu, Somalia. Somalia, a land of past poets and present trouble-makers, was once an African success story, but, since 1991, it has been ravaged by an on-going civil war. Like thousands of young Somalis, K’naan fled the country with his family as a teen and headed for the US, later relocating to Canada.


Photo by Luiza CC

Witnessing the horrors of the conflict first hand, K’naan knew the power of weaponry. But in a strange country so far away from home, he discovered a weapon more powerful than any semi-automatic machine gun - the weapon of speech. Intrigued by the art of rapping (and the spoken word) and with a desire to speak out against the plight of his people, K’naan used speech to convey his messages.

His first performance was a daring piece before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999 criticising the UN’s involvement, or lack of, in war-torn Somalia. The UN isn’t used to being told off by a kid, but they listened and even invited him back! In the audience that day was Senegalese singer, Youssou N’Dour, who was so impressed by K’naan that he offered him the chance to contribute to his upcoming album AND to join his world tour! All this from getting up and having the courage to speak your mind. From there, K’naan went on to develop as an artist and established himself as a force to be reckoned with his widely praised debut album ‘The dusty foot philosopher’ in 2005.

But K’naan never forgot where he came from. Like his first performance K’naan wanted his music to have meaning; as he puts it, he creates “urgent music with a message”. Music has long been used as a means of raising awareness due to its universal appeal. And in the technological age we live in, music can be used to reach more and more people. K’naan uses the power of music to draw the attention of people from all walks of life and enlighten them about the atrocities happening in his motherland. His lyrics are vivid and his audience sees, as much as they hear, what he’s talking about.

K’naan has captivated audiences from all over the world, from Geneva to New York, and continues to spread his message and raise awareness. He doesn’t let anyone suppress his views. He speaks out for what he believes in and through his music gets others to listen.


Once you have decided on the cause or the issue that most concerns you, raising awareness doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

  • It can be as simple as talking about local and global issues with your friends and family.
  • You could join or start a club in your school/community such as an Amnesty International group, which looks at a range of issues from conflict to human right abuses.
  • For the more daring, activist concerts and free gigs are always big hits. You could look at getting your local youth council to host it and could feature local musicians and young talent.
  • To reach a wider audience, get more ideas and/or share your successes with other young people, submit articles, videos and pod-casts to the Just Focus website.


Borrow the DVD Favela Rising from the Global Focus Aotearoa library

Photo on previous page by Coc@ CC

This article was originally published in the Global Focus pages of Tearaway Magazine.

Hugh Jackman - 1.4 Billion Reasons

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Check out the Global Poverty Project website for more info or the Just Focus events page for current NZ presentation dates.


Missy Higgins talks about extreme global poverty

Monday, August 24th, 2009

You can go to the Global Poverty Project website to see videos  from people who have seen the 1.4 Billion Reasons presentation. See the Just Focus events page for current New Zealand tour dates of the presentation. To R.S.V.P. to an event you can go directly to the Global Poverty Project events page.


Global Poverty Project

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009


Who are they?

A UN-backed movement to end global extreme poverty has reached New Zealand, and those involved are determined to break the apathy they see present in the country’s global conscience.

The Global Poverty Project (GPP) is the brainchild of Australians Simon Moss and Hugh Evans (former Australian of the Year); a team who were also behind the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY campaign last year in Australia.

Instead of gathering aid, the project is aiming to educate and inspire people to make achieving the Millennium Development Goalsa reality by delivering engaging presentations. The GPP presentations, staged around the world, are expected to culminate in a documentary-style film of the movement, narrated by Australian actor Hugh Jackman.

How can I get involved?
There are GPP committees in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin, but you can create your own too!

Go to the GPP website to become a Global Poverty Project Advocate. Advocates can:

  • organise and promote events
  • form groups, including giving groups, and invite friends to join
  • network with other advocates
  • lead the grassroots movement to end poverty, starting in their local area, place of work, study or worship!

Get Creative! Make a statement about poverty with whatever skills you have.  Upload a video, song, artwork, poetry etc, and the best ones will be featured on the GPP website.

For more info, check out the website above, or watch this trailer:

Material World - A Global Family Portrait

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

By Peter Menzel

material_photo11For the photos in this stunning book, photographers spent one week living with a “statistically average” family in each country, learning about their work, their attitudes toward their possessions, and their hopes for the future. Then a “big picture” shot of the family was taken outside the dwelling, surrounded by all their (many or few) material goods. Statistics and a brief history for each country are included as well as personal notes from the photographers about their experiences.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Take it Personally

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

take_photo1Anita Roddick of The Body Shop fame has created a work of art with this book, putting images and phrases together, such as, fashion and victim which show us how we have lost perspective of the real world.

Roddick has always tried to conduct business in a personal way, but has found that the business world is dominated by the faceless, and relentless advance of globalisation. This is a world of secret, impersonal committees, who do not take their social responsibilities seriously. The focus is on profit. Without more openness and democracy, she says, the world will be unable to deal with the serious crisis brought on us by globalisation.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Escape to hope

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

By Josh Wright

overcoming_photo1It’s difficult to perceive lifestyles that are different from the relatively privileged ones that many New Zealanders live. Although not perfect, the rights of children are strongly enforced in our country and this helps towards creating a safe and supportive society for us to grow up in.

This is not true in many parts of the world. Every day, across the globe, 250 million children (73 million under the age of 10!) go to work. These child labourers commonly work 12-18 hour days, for little money and are often forced to work in dangerous environments. They are likely to receive very little or no education. These children may work to contribute to the family income. Some children are used as debt bondage and work in order to pay off their parent’s loan. Others are orphans who lost parents to HIV/AIDS.

In India, although there is governmental policy which makes employing children under the age of 14 illegal, loop holes exist (or the law is just ignored) and there are an estimated 30-50 million child labourers through out the country.

One of those children was ten-year-old Lavanya, who was sent by her parents to serve as a maid and errand-runner to a family who lived eight hours drive away from her hometown. Her parents gave away their daughter in exchange for $132.00 US dollars a year. Lavanya was beaten by her employers and for two years was made to work from 6am to 9pm.

Talk about overcoming adversity! Lavanya decided this couldn’t go on and used tips given secretly to her by house guests to buy a train ticket and escape to the Indian city of Nellore. Here she encountered a worker for Kalaiselvi Karunalaya Social Welfare Society, an organisation that works with runaway street kids. Lavanya was supported to return to her hometown and family and is no longer working, but instead, she is receiving proper schooling.

Lavanya has hope for the future again.