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Vaccine for the World

posted Mar 23, 2014, 6:55 PM by Golden Knight
by Joseph Nofal



We see them everywhere: on the television, in the newspaper, and even on the streets on the way to work. Philanthropy suggests that impoverished people’s problems will all vanish with generous donations of a few dollars or even millions, but this is naïve and will not solve anything. Philanthropy needs to be based on instruction because people who are living in poverty must be self reliant to survive, need to learn how to produce on their own, and will learn how to contribute to society.

According to The New York Times, 49% of people living in sub-Saharan Africa are living in absolute poverty and are in desperate need of help. The Wall Street Journal says that in the last 60 years at least $1 trillion dollars of development related aid has been given to Africa from rich countries. 


    Unfortunately, The Wall Street Journal also says that more than 50% of the population, a percentage that has almost doubled in the last 20 years, is living on less than a dollar a day. The money that is being given to them is not helping at all, and this is because of the corruption in the government. The African Union, an organization of African Countries, estimated in 2002 that this corruption is costing the continent 150 billion dollars a year. The money that is being given to them is not even reaching the people so it is not helping. Part of the aid can go to food, water, medicine, etc., while the other part can go to sending teachers to educate people in different trades so that the people will learn about fields such as agriculture, plumbing, construction, computers, etc. and be able to increase the standard of living themselves. Being denied of their intrinsic and basic human necessities, Africa’s people are in need of help, and it is essential that they are receiving more than just money.   


Habitat for Humanity is a non- profit organization that not only builds, renovates, and repairs affordable homes for people with a lower income, but also assists them contribute to their community. A large value that they hold by is that they give hand ups and not handouts. This means that Habitat does not just build houses for people who need them, but they have the possible homeowners go through a very in depth application process. If they are chosen they have to put in 500 hours of work on their house and prove that they can afford the low cost mortgage, which teaches and ensures the values of hard work and dedication. Southern Methodist University conducted a study of the effects of Habitat on the economy in Dallas and found that the 770 households that they built generate $29.1 million dollars in economic activity as well as 200 additional jobs every year. Each household generates about $38,000 in additional economic activity and this has a huge effect on their community. Habitat for Humanity not only aids people with lower income, but through this they have influenced the whole region. 

My family and I are very involved in our church and we participate in these two events every year; one which is around Thanksgiving and the other which is around Christmas. During Thanksgiving, all of the local less fortunate people come and we give them baskets full of your typical Thanksgiving meal: turkey, corn, stuffing, etc., so that they may enjoy their holiday. We do the same thing at Christmas, but instead of food baskets we give all of the kid’s toys and a chance to meet “Santa” as well as a hot meal. This has been a tradition in my family but as the years went on I began to notice that the same people were coming back every year. This got me thinking and I asked my parents one day, “Why do the same people need this stuff if we gave it to them last year?” and they replied with a small lecture about how they never got a proper education or training so they have limited job opportunities and it hard for them to move up in their field. It made me sad to think that these people’s lives will always be limited just because they were deprived of proper instruction. That is why I feel passionate about this topic and think that if they were given that instruction, they wouldn’t need to rely on us for that Thanksgiving meal and Christmas gift.

The Los Angeles Almanac estimates 254,000 men, woman, and children experience homelessness in the Los Angeles County at some point during the year, a number that has gone up 16% in the last two years. The general thought is that the government is going to help them and that it is not their problem, but according to Michael Arnold, the executive director of LAHSA, there has been a significant reduction in federal resources available for the homeless. The government is supporting less and less so someone else has to try to accommodate the 6,678 families that are living on the streets. Donating a few dollars will not have the impact necessary to make a difference in these people’s lives. The reason for this is that the Los Angeles Almanac also says that 33- 66% of the impoverished have substance abuse problems and another 25% have some kind of mental illness. Money will do no good in these cases. There are solutions that well exceed the effects of cash. “Housing First” is a program that has aided thousands of families, primarily ones with a single mother, in rebuilding their lives in permanent housing. It is also just a small fraction of the organizations that do more than donate money, but help set up their whole lives. The 254,000 people of Los Angeles that are living without a place that they can call their own need help, and money alone will not do the job.

Poverty is a plague that spreads quickly throughout the world, and the cure is not money. It is not something that can be paid off, for that is just a temporary solution because eventually that money will be exhausted and the disease will return. The world needs a vaccine, and it comes in the form of education.