Rotary continues to give a hand up

Editor:

Our economy has suffered seriously during the COVID-19 pandemic and so have many individuals, families and organizations. We have been managing with what we have and helping out each other.

It is that much more meaningful to appreciate that nearly 800 million people in our world live on less than $1.90 a day. An estimated 2.6 million children under the age of five died from malnutrition-related causes. Those children are among the one in nine people in the world, or 795 million people, who do not have enough to eat. Of the world’s hungry people 60 per cent are women and girls. Seventy per cent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihood

Rotary members have been seeking sustainable solutions to poverty by providing training and access to well-paying jobs and financial management institutions to strengthen local entrepreneurs and community leaders, particularly women, in impoverished communities. The Rotary Foundation spent $9.2 million last year to grow local economies and reduce poverty.

With that support from Rotarians, entrepreneurs use microloans to become street vendors, rickshaw drivers, weavers, and tailors. In rural communities they can borrow money to buy livestock or plant crops or get training in sustainable farming and learn how to extend their growing season so local residents eat healthier, local food.

Communities far removed from energy resources can access solar lights allowing people to cook, work and learn at night. In remote villages of Laos, in southeast Asia, the Rotary Club of Ladner and other clubs support the Rotary led Adopt-A-Village program, bringing solar street lighting, along with educational facilities and supplies, and water filters and systems.

Lack of knowledge about the importance and true nutritional value of local food plants is one of the barriers to better nutrition in many impoverished communities. Rotarians have been working with poor communities to address malnutrition, hunger and food security through the use of readily available local food plants.

For instance, among the 350,000 subsistence farmers and fishermen living in near poverty on an island in Lake Victoria, Tanzania, most children, having walked to school over long distances on empty stomachs each day, have little to eat when they get home. With Rotary’s hands on and financial support three schools on the island have established environmental clubs so children can learn how to protect their environment and practice sustainable farming.

Many of us here at home are happy to give a hand up to those in need around us, but we can give a hand up as well to so many in our world community.

Arthur Birk

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