Teenagers might think that there is nothing they can do to help alleviate poverty. In reality, there are many, many different opportunities for young people to lend a hand in human development and poverty alleviation.
How You Can Help Alleviate Poverty
Peter Bell on Awareness:
"By and large, people in the U.S. live with such prosperity, at least relevant to a very large portion in the rest of the world, that it is difficult for us to imagine not having access to safe water to drink or to have access to a school and a health clinic. So it is important to become informed..."
Often, when teens start to think about how they can help with issues such as poverty alleviation, the first things that come to mind are fundraisers. Poverty relief organizations are only too happy to put any money you raise to good use in developing countries. Also, fundraisers can be relatively easy to organize, especially if they are done in conjunction with a local organizatoin such as a school. They are also almost limitless in their possibilities - a fundraiser could take form as a simple appeal for funds, a bake sale, a contest, or any number of other events.
Arguably even more effective than raising money for relief organizations, however, is raising awareness of poverty issues. Peter Bell, former President of CARE USA says that many people in the U.S. live in such comfort that they forget millions of people are suffering in the developing world. Educating yourself and others about poverty is an important step toward poverty alleviation: those who know about the terrible toll poverty takes on developing nations will be more likely to work for poverty alleviation in the future.
Here's what Peter Bell had to say to our team about teen involvement in poverty alleviation:
Peter Bell's Answer to: "How do you think that teenagers, especially in developed countries, can help alleviate poverty?":
First and foremost it is [for teenagers] to educate themselves, both about the toll that poverty takes in people in this country and around the world.
There are many opportunities for teens to get involved in poverty alleviation.
There are many programs that allow teens to participate in human development and poverty alleviation efforts. We outline a few of them below:
- CARE Action Network:
Joining the CARE Action Network is an easy way to gain access to information on poverty issues, as well as help other members spread the word about poverty. Joining the Network is easy: just go here and enter your e-mail address.
- Save the Children Action Network:
The Save the Children Action Network is similar to the CARE Action Network: it provides its members with information about ongoing poverty alleviation efforts, and suggests actions you can take to help. You can join by going to the Save the Children Advocacy Center here. The site also has links to various poverty relief campaigns that 'Save the Children' is running.
NetAid's Student Center is a site geared toward kids that has information on poverty issues, and many ways you can get involved. NetAid gives ideas for fundraisers, letter-writing campaigns, and much more on its site.
- Habitat for Humanity CCYP:
Habitat for Humanity's Campus Chapters and Youth Program allows teenagers to get involved in some of the home-construction projects Habitat for Humanity is famous for around the world. From newsletters to volunteer opportunities, everything is available on the CCYP website here.
JustGive.org gives some helpful suggestions on volunteering. Check it out here.
The Visions program allows kids ages 14-18 to travel abroad to experience new cultures and engage in community service. If you are looking for a hands-on way to get involved in poverty relief Visions might be for you.
- Youth Volunteer Network:
The Youth Volunteer Network, part of the larger 'Network for Good,' gives helpful tips on volunteering and getting involved in social development causes in your area.
- Make Poverty History/ONE Campaign:
'Make Poverty History' and the ONE Campaign are both movements encompassed by the 'Gobal Call to Action Against Poverty' network of organizations. They are primarily aimed toward teenagers and young adults, and have the support of many celebrities, including Bono, Mos Def, Brad Pitt, and Tom Hanks. Both campaigns work to increase awareness of global poverty, and to increase the amount of development aid given out by industrialized nations. One of the most notable features of the campaigns is their use of white wristbands with anti-poverty messages as an advocacy tool.
- The Borgen Project:
The Borgen Project's goal is to increase the political profile of poverty, especially in the United States. The Borgen Project feels that poverty does not get nearly enough attention or money in the political arena (on their website, they compare costs: $19 billlion could 'eliminate starvation and malnutrition' globally, while the U.S. military budget is currently over $400 billion). Teenagers can help out by creating what the Borgen Project calls 'online buzz' on forums, blogs, and other discussion hotspots around the web.
Be a Part of the CARE Action Network.
Bell, Peter. Telephone Interview. 19 December 2005.
The Borgen Project. 2006.
Habitat for Humanity: CCYP. 2006.
JustGive.org: Donor Info: 20 Ideas for Volunteering.
McHugh, Kathleen. Telephone Interview. 5 January 2006.
NetAid: Student Center. 2005.
Save the Children: Advocacy Center. 2006.
Wikipedia: Make Poverty History. 2006.
Youth Volunteer Network: Take Action.