A Conscious Effort
My readings for this week’s tutorial presented me with a number of interesting, believable and profound statistics I felt were worth sharing, and commenting on. Sandra Mathison states that as of 2017:
- The world population is 7.5 billion people
- Half of the people in the world live in poverty
- 22,000 children die each day due to conditions of poverty
- 805 million people do not have enough food
- 5 million children die each year before they are 5 years old
- 165 million children under 5 are stunted from malnutrition
- 750 million people do not have adequate access to safe drinking water
- 2300 people die each day from diarrhoea
- 214 million women lack access to family planning
- 1 in 7 children in NYC are homeless
- This year, in British Columbia 4 people will die each day from opioid overdoses
- 34,500 people flee their homes every day to avoid violence
- 1 in every 113 people on Earth has been driven from their home by conflict, violence, or human rights violations
- Two thirds of illiterate people in the world are women
Most of these, I found rather staggering and quite incomprehensible. But if these statistics are correct, on reflection, I can see how believable they are – and this is the problem. There’s an element of this article which is subliminally reiterating how lucky many of us are. Myself, writing this in the (relative) comfort of my student house will probably never suffer any of these injustices in the entirety of my life, and there I am, critiquing the comfort of my student house when 1 in 7 children are homeless in New York.
These statistics are simultaneously useful and useless. Indeed, they make us think that we’re lucky and we may take two or three minutes to reflect on happenings around the globe. But for many of us, like myself, it rarely extends beyond a momentary thought. This, I believe, is because we are so far removed from the things that are happening throughout the globe, that they almost seem surreal. It is perhaps why, I was mostly staggered by the statistic about children homeless in New York. I am writing this, because that was the statistic that shocked me the most. This disappoints me, considering Mathison states that 805 million people do not have enough food. Incomprehensible – that is the problem. We ‘lucky ones’, are so far removed from these problems that, even though we are aware they exist, our help does not often go beyond a momentary thought.
I go back to the 1 in 7 children homeless in New York. A much more ‘real’ statistic that many of us can perhaps relate to, despite being unable to relate to the millions, almost a billion, without food and water. I suppose the problems are relative. Though, this shouldn’t be the point, and one should treat the more significant problems with the same consideration for children knowingly homeless. But indeed, it’s difficult to relate to, and with a pinch of salt, I ask, what can we do?
Maastricht Goes to Calais
A number of people I’m in contact with at university, including my housemate, are part of an independent project– Maastricht Goes to Calais. A volunteering project providing material and emotional support for the 800 refugees in and around the destroyed camps in Calais, France. The problems faced by these people, again, are incomprehensible, and a lot closer to home than one might ordinarily appreciate. Some perspective, for those unaware of the severity of the global refugee epidemic. According to Amnesty, the number of people fleeing their homes due to war and conflict, environmental and social degradation stood at 92million. Today, the figure is 244million, an unprecedented increase, and something which cannot be ignored, especially when the global problem is becoming a European problem, too.
My point here with regards to Maastricht goes to Calais also relates to those affected by homelessness in New York, in addition to those included within all of Madison’s statistics. One can become involved with the project in Maastricht by simply providing a baked cake for a fundraising sale, a retweet or repost of information, to encourage knowledge and participation alike, that can go on to make a huge difference, knowingly, or unknowingly. The problems around the globe are a shared problem, whether we hold them to be far from our day to day lives, or close to our hearts. What I am trying to convey, is the magnitude of such problems that I had done little more than think about until now; the global issues are not something which you can easily, or perhaps should devote your life towards combatting, as the problems are seemingly endless. This was something that I had not quite appreciated until I spoke to my housemate about the project and issues faced by those at Calais. I reiterate that the problems are seemingly endless, but nonetheless, any contributions of time and devotion can make a larger difference than you may have initially appreciated.