Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Well, today is Blog Action Day 2008. The theme? Poverty.

Blog Action Day is an effort to engage bloggers in a discussion about an issue that affects the world, interpreted as we see fit. Unfortunately, the current economic state will probably take some light away from this causee, since people are growing increasingly concerned about their own well being. That's how life works I guess.

My concern around poverty lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, a place I've spent a lot of time over the past few years. I spent 6 months living in Thailand before business school and many months traveling throughout Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. It's a place I've experienced poverty quite closely. Where I watched a woman with a head injury lie in the street, slowly dying, because there weren't any emergency crew within miles of Baghan.

In that same town, I was also rewarded with the experience of a lifetime. I met a girl who wanted nothing more than to share her home with a complete stranger. She invited me to dinner with her family which required a horse carriage to get there. The path was lighted by a flashlight because there was no electricity. Dinner was lit by candle. The family offered me what little they could to eat and never asked for anything in return. They wanted me to enjoy the hospitality of their country. And that I did. But I knew, as I left, that everyday was a struggle for them. No electricity or running water made it difficult to survive. Medical services, vaccinations, and other health measures were few and far between. And cyclone Nargis certainly left the country devastated. While we hear very little about it now, I'm sure the devastation will be felt for years to come.

It's strange, living in America, where we take so much for granted. We don't think twice about flipping a light switch or drinking from the faucet. But around the world, things can be vastly different.

I'm not encouraging you to donate. I've done that in the past. But I am encouraging you to think about your own experiences with poverty. The time your heart ached for a child begging for food. The time you helped the homeless just because it was the right thing to do. The time you just sat and talked to someone who lives a life less enjoyable, to try to cheer them on, because everyday is a struggle for them to survive.


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