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The Poverty Cycle

Poverty has been a human affliction for centuries. It is a universally understood problem and many activists have attempted to provide the right solutions in order to eliminate its dire effects. A wise man once said that the Earth’s resources are enough to satisfy Man’s need, and not Man’s greed. The question remains, however, can humans effectively eradicate poverty or is that a distant dream? The sad truth is that priorities are misplaced and costing people’s lives. Did you know that one week of US military spending would obliterate world hunger?

Two of the leading contributing factors of poverty are illiteracy and the lack of education. Unfortunately, lack of education not only stems from knowledge unavailability for many people; it also stems from traditional cultures as well as religion. In developing countries, equal rights for women are not yet guaranteed for every female till this day as well. It does not help that they only have access to a basic education level as well as often receive negative reactions from their husbands when they express their desire to climb the corporate ladder. This means that there is still a huge resource of untapped talent and ability that remains untouched. Muhammad Yunus is an example of how one can battle cultural stigmas as he created the Georgetown Institute for Women. He also founded the Grameen Bank which is the world’s biggest and most effective microcredit institution. This allowed many women the chance to be exposed to a whole new world as well as provide for their families.

Illiteracy is also a massive problem. Without the power of words, one’s ability to grow is severed drastically. Without the power of words, one suffers silently. No reading and writing means no access to knowledge in books or on the Internet. There is also the very likely possibility of exploitation by greedy employers as the majority of uneducated employees do not even know their rights.

Initial financial aid is essential for people’s survival; especially during financial crises or natural disasters. A past example of such calamity includes the earthquake that ravaged Haiti, and now, unfortunately, the Haiyan earthquake in the Philippines. Large-scale organisations such as the United Nations and Medecins Sans Frontieres are important donors of food and medical treatment as well as equipment. However, smaller scale charities can make a larger impact on a day-to-day basis. One charity had the brilliant idea of providing household items that could reap many rewards, such as the humble bicycle.

Although initial food supplies and medical care are effective, in the long-term, they lead to civilians becoming dependent on welfare. Therefore, other solutions have to be implemented later on, such as microloans, inner city farming, an ameliorated educational system and the use of the female workforce. Often, undeveloped countries make the mistake of relying on multinational corporations to provide employment. This can be extremely detrimental in the long-term as it frequently leads to a loss of cultural identity and increased dependence. It is terrifying to think that certain multinational corporations such as Nestle can have more power than entire states!

Microcredit is a more viable long-term option and a unique form of philanthropy. Microloans enable the poor, especially women, to create their own self-sufficient businesses. This is life-changing for many people, enabling them to rise out of their monotonous and unsatisfying jobs and allowing them to escape the clutches of patronising employers. Most importantly, this allows them to envisage a better life and attain it realistically, improving their decrepit surroundings and potentially avoiding a life of crime. Unfortunately, there are cracks in the system. Unbelievably, there is such a thing as predatory lending in which the poor are exploited under the guise of help. Microfinance is also viewed as compatible for any given situation. However, if not used wisely, people can end up not able to pay back the loan and be forced to live in poverty now due to a crippling debt.

Although there is still a lot of work to be done, the world is changing and people are becoming more and more aware of the global crisis. And even though it is not sure that poverty can be completely eradicated, it can definitely be drastically diminished with the use of the aforementioned measures. Indeed, give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, teach a man how to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.


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