www.whyville.net Nov 2, 2008 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

The World Outside of Ourselves

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Today a girl I admire, Georgia, was competing against other students at my school to move into the next round of "Australia's Young Person of the Year" award.

The students were asked a question they had never heard before and were given 2 minutes to answer it. They then had to present a prepared 5-minute speech on a topic they deemed worthy. Georgia spoke of Fair Trade chocolate and how children are forced to work in the cocoa bean fields for minimal pay, or as slaves, enduring abuse, snake/bug bites, injuries, and malnutrition.

She then went on to say that World Vision is supporting Fair Trade chocolate, so that companies who buy other farmers' cocoa beans will lose money. They hope this will become an incentive for all companies to buy Fair Trade chocolate, and for the other farmers to convert to Fair Trade through government funding. This, hopefully, will create more Fair Trade and eliminate the use of slaves and minimal pay workers in fields.

It started me thinking . . . obviously, the recent financial turmoil has not just affected America. Australia, France, England, Germany, China and many other countries have suffered, too. However, these are just the countries we hear about in the news all the time because they have the most sway over our economy. What about the poverty-stricken countries, though? Surely, the financial debacle has affected them, too.

When people in "wealthy" countries realize the importance of a budget, they start to cut down on luxuries such as new clothes, chocolate, and other such items that farmers in poverty-stricken countries pay children to provide.

Surely, our limited spending will affect them, too; farmers will not be able to pay their workers as much, enough or at all. This will make it harder to create Fair Trade farms, and for children to provide food for their grandparents and siblings.

Perhaps, instead of complaining about not having the latest iPod, clothes, jewels, phone, etc. or complaining about new features on a website, we can appreciate our countrie's wealth. Money will return, but lives will not.

While we can become homeless during the recent financial situation, I can only assume that because you are reading this now, you are not homeless. People in poverty-stricken countries need money to live. Not to buy iPods, not to buy TV?s, designer clothes or computers, just to buy food, water and a book and pen so that they can attend school.

If you think that living is when you're crowd surfing at a concert, or sky diving, or just being with your friends at the mall, you are wrong. None of us know what living truly is. We just know what life's fillers are, the things to pass the time and to keep us amused. Although, I certainly do not dispute that we all may suffer hardships, pain, loss and the hunger and desire for something better in life.

Living is to know that you could die tomorrow, not to follow the saying, "Live like it's your last day on Earth," but to actually struggle for your life, day in and day out.

Living, is hanging onto life with everything you have, just to eat, drink and learn. Just to live one day longer so that you can help your family. Not to complain about schoolwork, or about price rises, or about the mud on your jeans.

No, living is to know that your very existence is keeping the ones you love alive, because they are too young or old to get food for themselves. Living is feeling death's breath on your neck everyday, yet you perceive, holding onto the hope that one day, you will be free.

Perhaps in the future, we will be able to look outside of ourselves for a moment, and truly appreciate how lucky we are.

Do not forget, money can come back. Life cannot.

- Pinkscunk.

Author's Note: Just as a side note, I didn't want to put this in the article because I couldn't find a suitable place to fit it in. To help with the fight against poverty, 191 countries in the UN signed the Millennium Declaration in 2000. They promised to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development by 2015. This year, 116,993,629 people around the world stood up and were counted to remind the leaders to make good on their promise.

You can make a difference, too. Donate to World Vision, do the 40-hour famine, and next year, form a group to stand up against poverty. Together, we can eradicate it from our world.



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