My mind! My mind. So I went to the Nicholas Kristof talk and I was so weak by the end of it. WOW. Chale this world. A month ago I wrote about a post called small world, big problems, about how poverty and genocide related problems are bigger than they seem for individual people. The stories this man told us today. This world, this world.
How many people have ever seen a mosquito net advert and underestimated the effects of mosquito nets in saving people’s lives? He’s talked to a woman in Cambodia who could afford just ONE net, which could cover 3 of her 4 children. And each night she had to deliberately cover just 3 of them, and lie with the last one outside the net, praying to God that he/she wouldn’t get malaria, because if she can’t afford an extra net, how on earth is she going to afford medicine.
How many people have heard things on the news about human trafficking and found it difficult to imagine children and human beings being sold in this day? He has pretended to be a pimp and BOUGHT two girls for 350 dollars and was given a receipt. HOW?? How are living in the 21st century and giving written receipts for human beings. Ei! He spoke of an oasis in the desert in Sudan, where under each tree there was one family. He moved from tree to tree interviewing families and it’s terrible what qualifies as a “family” here. A man who has carried his brother for 49 days across the desert in search of an oasis, because his brother has been shot in the neck, and has kept him alive for 49 days in the desert. A 5-year old taking care of their 2 year old sibling because everyone else has been killed. People who have seen their children killed TO BE THROWN IN A WELL TO POISON IT so no one else can have access to clean water. This world.
I reblogged Deborah’s post today about how people are bothered about whose bag is expensive and whose shoes were mined in diamond mines in South Africa and how it all doesn’t matter for shit. I’m not even going to pretend as if i’m not materialistic because I am and I am not suddenly going to start shopping for clothes at Walmart. But if you have the ability to care about such relatively UNIMPORTANT matters, you NEED to care about humanity. He said something that Zahra says often on her blog: It’s only by accident of birth that a lot of people are here thinking about real vs fake diamonds while others are “BEING THROWN INTO BONFIRES” because of the color of their skin. All from the same country. This very same world. And if you’re that lucky, it’s a responsibility to care about what other human beings are going through.
He spoke about how all evidence shows that the greatest escalator out of poverty is education. But everywhere in the world - developed and developing countries - the best education, best teachers, best facilities, go MAINLY to the people who don’t need to be escalated out of any poverty. It’s not necessarily their fault. But that’s how it is. What are we doing? He’s met a 12 year old girl in Vietnam, taking care of 3 younger siblings with no parents, going to school, but finding it hard to keep up even though she wakes up at 3 am every morning to do homework. He asked her what she wanted the most at that very moment in time. She said 5 dollars for extra tutoring to do better in school. One of the girls in Darfur he interviewed was 12 and told a story about how she allowed about 15 men to rape her in a row so that they wouldn’t find her little sister. Now she wants him to tell them what she did so they know she got one over them in a way. He asked her if she knew she was putting herself at risk of more danger. She said it was the only way she had to fight back. All she could do. What are we doing?
All the same, he also spoke about the progress that had been made in the world over years. In 1960, worldwide, 20 million children died before they reached the age of 5. With today’s population that should be 60 million children. But today only 8 million children die as infants. But you can’t really say ONLY 8 million children die, because 8 million is a huge number. But imagine how much progress we could make if EVERYBODY cared. Not everyone has to make a profession out of this, like he has. I don’t plan to. I’m still here working my ass of towards being successful in the freaking corporate world. But care, and do something, something, whatever you can, to help other human beings.
I’ll end with a Bill Gates quote I have blogged once before, but which is very relevant to this:
Judge yourselves, not on your professional accomplishments, but on what you have done to improve the lives of people a world away, with whom you share nothing but your humanity
A world away doesn’t have to be geographic. People who can’t find clean water to drink who live 3 minutes away from your house are a world away. Because they drink water from dirty streams, and you buy bottled water, then pour it out to fill it with cold water from a water fountain because the weather is too hot (this is me btw).