Talking about poverty

I realise that a list of quotes sucks out any impact they may have on their own... but here's a random juke box selection anyway. I have been revising poverty for school today and have been stirred...

"Poverty is the principle cause of human rights violations in the world" Office of the High commission of human rights, 1999

"'Tis my maxim that there is no scandal like rags, nor any crime so shameful as poverty"
George Faquhar, 1707

Impoverished young people in Brazil are "losing the right to dream" President Lula
(da Silva, 2003)

"The worst thing about living in poverty is the way it gives others permission to treat you- as if you don't matter" Statement from Low income parents to the APPGP, 2002

"The need to lend a voice to suffering is a condition of all truth"
Adorno, 1973

and from my Head of Department, bit long but a pretty powerful:

If the term "poverty" carries with it the implication and moral imperative that something should be done about it, then the study of poverty is only ultimately justifiable if it influences individual and social attitudes and actions. This must be borne in mind constantly if discussion on the definition of poverty us to avoid becoming an academic debate worthy of Nero- a semantic ans statistical squabble that is parasitic, voyeuristic and utterly unconstructive and which treats "the poor" as passive objects of attention, whether benign or malevolent- a discussion that is part of the problem rather than part of the solution"
Piacaud, 1987


Oxfam gets animated

This is a video produced for the Swap It parties- www.oxfam.org.uk/swapit by Frater. They have done an amazing job. Let Mr Whistle inspire you to find your ethical rhythm! Warning, you'll be whistling this tune all day...

This is Oxfams new TV ad which I think is rather beautiful, too.


the children, the children...

I have been in the library today working on a paper for my Child Rights, Poverty and Development course. I have been exploring what the realisation of Articles 26 and 27 of the Convention on The Rights of the Child would mean for children in poverty. It basically requires that all children are given access to social security- essentially it is a childs right to be free from poverty. All countries in the world have ratified this treaty apart from, get this, Somalia and, yes, America.

Anyway, my readings today have been so powerful. I have been reading Child Poverty in the Developing world a report by Gorden et al (2003) that measures 8 deprivation indicators - deprivation of sanitation, education, food, information, water, access to basic services, shelter and health. This report found that one third of children in developing nations are in absolute poverty deprived totally of two or more of these things , and a half are severely deprived with no access to one or more of these. In sub sahara Africa the percentages reach 65% and 80% respectively. That is HUGE. I was quite overwhelmed visualizing these statistics.

How are we in this state? Economic growth across the globe has been momentous, yet millions and millions of beautiful children are left entirely behind.

What are we to do?


The Olympic Flame in Paris

Allo allo- those French know how to protest! Amazing amazing footage and powerful report here.
And San Fran already getting their banners out on the bridge. CCOME ON!
San Francisco will bring it. I watch in anticipation as people across the world speak out for our "One Dream"- of human rights for all.PS- And also, it was weird today as Tim and I had a few conversations with people being "disappointed" with the 'violent protests' of yesterday, and the way the press has portrayed it- it is as if we were igniting cars. I feel so sad about that- is a "peaceful protest" one that simply stays behind the barricades? Yesterday no one was threatened, assaulted, no property damaged, nothing thrown.... It was confrontational and it crossed boundaries but it was far from violent. (Apart from the coppas picking us up and flicking us off like flies!) To be sure, I can imagine admirable saints of old having a grand old stomp and shout about oppression and injustice.


Olympic Flame in London: yeah but, sport and politics don't mix!

We spent the day charging round London following the Olympic flame. It was the most powerful protest I have ever been a part of, with thousands of people enraged with Chinas human rights abuses and enraged at the Olympic committees tolerance of 7 years of broken promise. People were there on behalf of Tibet, on behalf of Darfur, Burma, even Zimbabwe (Chinese government has given billions to continue Mugabe's tyranny) and of course violations within China.

Some of todays sights and conversations will never leave me; standing with flags held high, a young guys stereo pouring out a Tibetan lament as rank upon rank of police gather to protect the flame, a middle aged women in a suit scrambling over the barrier as passion engulfed her, teenagers, grey haired guys and my husband running for miles alongside the flame on the Stratford leg calling Shame, Shame, Shame. For me 'shame' summed up today, and not just because it rhymes so nicely with 'flame'. Shame on the Chinese government for oppressing their people and the people of other nations, shame on Brown for turning a blind eye, shame on the International Olympic Committee for not holding China to account and Shame on the Olympics Association in the UK for gagging our athletes.
Yet still, today I felt a renewed faith in human kind as we raised our voices together to scream ourselves hoarse in the name of justice.

Interesting things that don;t exactly fit anywhere in this post:
  • An overview of the day by Angry Chinese blogger
  • A clarification: Anti- China protests? No, mate. China has some great stuff going on, first climate neutral city, great basic public education and health services, and Chinese people are for the most part I imagine, although I only know a small number, wonderful. This was an Anti-Human Rights Abuse protest and nothing else.
A couple of decades ago crowds of brave Kiwis stood up to the tour of the South African rugby team during Apartheid. The message was so strong that it became a part of a global pressure on that diabolical racist regime. Who said sports and politics shouldn't mix?Our SHAME sign (blood splatted A)

Thousands gather to meet the flame at the 02
The last leg: the protection was 4 people deep.



Today I saw a video from Amnesty. It is a beautiful imagination captor! Just the inspiration we need if we ever begin to doubt the effect of our action (or inaction) on people across the world.