HOW DOES LIVING ON $1.50 A DAY END EXTREME POVERTY?
In 1997, a 14-year-old boy had the chance to go to the Philippines as a Youth Ambassador for World Vision. There he met another young boy who lived in the slums. At once he realized that it was only by accident of birth that his friend lived in such extreme poverty. In that moment, Hugh Evans knew he would dedicate his life to making sure children like his friend would not have to experience such hardship.
Evans, now 28, went on to create the Global Poverty Project, an international organization whose sole mission is to effect the end of extreme poverty within a lifetime. There are many factors which create cycles of extreme poverty. The Global Poverty Project focuses on three main types of solutions to stop and reverse these cycles:
1) create quality aid programs,
2) encourage businesses to adopt fair trade practices,
3) implement anti-corruption measures at the government level.
There’s also a strong emphasis on connecting people to the issues, and empowering them to take on their own initiatives. [clear]
The achievements of its members since its inception have been admirable. In 2007, after a huge awareness campaign, the Australian government doubled its aid commitment, resulting in more than $4 billion dollars being dedicated to aid programs that Australia supports around the world. Later advocacy efforts resulted in a leading chocolate company transforming its entire manufacturing processes to adopt fair trade practices. It earned Evans the title of “Young Australian of the Year.”
Hugh Evans’ philosophy is powerful:
“To see real change means you have to change people’s perceptions. You must inspire hope that the end of extreme poverty is, in fact, possible. In the last decade, the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by 25%, but more needs to be done. The first step towards this goal is always education.” [clear]
Education for Action
True to his word, Evans launched an Inconvenient Truth-style presentation, which gives the full picture about the causes of extreme poverty and what can be done about it. The presentation, aptly titled 1.4 Billion Reasons to represent the 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty, has been delivered to over 70,000 people around the world. It has resulted in more than 25,000 people taking direct action to address the barriers to end extreme poverty. It is now touring in the United States – traveling to 60 Schools in 60 Days – and is being presented by young social change leaders who bring their own stories to the events and inspire others to take action. Click here to see a short trailer about GPP’s feature presentation, 1.4 Billion Reasons.
For Evans, the presentation is about education. It’s about creating an understanding that systems – not people’s decisions or misfortunes – create and perpetuate the cycles of extreme poverty on a global level. In the United States, it’s also about clarifying the public’s perception of the government’s contributions to foreign aid.
“Many people have this idea that a high percentage of the U.S. budget is going offshore – in reality it is less than 1% of the overall budget. It’s negligible, yet the impact on life-saving programs in developing countries is huge, especially in areas affected by natural disasters,” Evans said.
“Live Below the Line” Launches
Complementing the 1.4 Billion Reasons tour is the launch of Global Poverty Project’s powerful “Live Below the Line” Campaign, which challenges participants to live on a food budget of $1.50 a day, for 5 days. The 2013 U.S. Campaign took place earlier this year, and nearly 20,000 participants raised $4 million for ant-poverty projects across the world. The UK campaign was launched by Hugh Jackman and they raised