October 23, 2012

Building Bridges

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As always happens in election years, a lot of major issues are being reduced into convenient sound bites.

Much is made out of small things, they're blown up and used as examples for government waste.

Opponents of incumbents love to talk about government contracts that pay out outrageous amounts for everyday objects.  In truth, it is always more complicated.

One of those issues that is always up for scrutiny is foreign aid.  Money spent abroad to help people that could be spent domestically instead.

So where does that foreign aid go?

In fact, it doesn't go very far.  And that is why there are so many international organizations dedicated to picking up the slack.  Organizations like the World Food Programme.  And in actuality, much of the "foreign aid" that the United States spends is funneled through organizations like this.

The World Food Programme tend to focus primarily on feeding women and girls, as they have incredibly limited access to resources across much of the world.  But currently, there is a specific initiative of the World Food Programme that is focused intensely on a very specific need.

The World Food Programme is trying to provide school lunches for children in Bolivia.

This is a wonderful idea.  In a place where children have limited access to food, and limited access to education. tying the two together creates a wonderful incentive.  Send your children to school, get them an education, and they will be fed.

I live in Chicago, and here the majority of students in the public schools rely on the meals they are provided away from home.  Breakfast before classes, lunch during school... these are two whole meals that these children are guaranteed.  And that is a guarantee they don't necessarily have at home.

While the need in Bolivia is greater, the children are essentially the same.  They are the burgeoning individuals, real people with dreams and goals and stories.

...and the World Food Programme is helping us learn those stories.

You can follow the link to the right, and ask questions about school children who are receiving meals through the World Food Programme.

Your questions will be translated into Spanish, the children will answer them, and their answers will be translated and sent to you.

You can get to know these people, these children.  You can take a few moments and actually learn about the anonymous mass of "aid recipients" that our government allegedly spends too much money assisting.

The world is our community, whether we like it or not.

And as many problems as we have at home, we must never forget that our problems are nearly always small and petty in comparison to those of people across the world.

People without access to water, or without access to medicine.  People who face persecution for their gender or their religious beliefs.  People who don't have the opportunity to spend a few years in school, learning to read and write.

These are real problems.

And yes, we also have real problems.  But there is a scale of needs, and our needs are mostly met.

Go and learn about another set of people, another set of needs.  Go and get to know somebody who has only ever been a vague set of numbers to you.

Build a bridge.

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