It’s week 26 which means that I am halfway through my small change experiment. Yes, some things have been harder than others and for that reason I felt it was necessary to spend the week assessing which changes have been successful and where I have perhaps fallen short.
In case I needed some extra motivation to get me beyond the halfway mark, this week I got to hear Bill Gates and Hans Rosling speak at the London School of Economics, as part of the Global Poverty Project 2012 Ambassador launch. The event was a timely reminder of why so many of the issues I am trying to counteract in my own life affect the world’s poorest. Hans Rosling, who is Professor of Global Health at the Karolinska Institute, Edutainer & co-founder of Gapminder, made a statement that really struck me. He said ‘People say we need to educate the poor. No, it is more important to listen to the poor.’ How profound. Those of us in the ‘developed world’ spend so much time thinking that we have the answers to the world’s problems. Yet, if we only took the time to really listen to each other, perhaps the world would be a very different place. And it can be. The overriding message from both Hans and Bill was that there is great hope for those living in extreme poverty. Just yesterday The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged a further $750 million dollars in the fight against AIDS. I get quite emotional when I think about how many lives that money will save. Yes, Bill knows there is corruption and he is not naive to the difficult financial circumstances that the world faces. But it becomes irrelevant when you consider that one child dies every 3.8 seconds from hunger and diseases that we know how to prevent and cure. What matters is that we all do what we can to help those who are not in a position to help themselves. I don’t have a bank account bulging with millions of dollars but I am still blessed and privileged and I know for a fact that there are twenty-six things that I can do….and I will find another twenty-six before the year is up!
This week has been one of the busiest, most stressful weeks I have endured in a long time. With ten essays to complete before next Wednesday, a demanding six-month old puppy and various other demands on my time I am sure I could find a good excuse to put my compassion on hold until I am feeling less frazzled. Unfortunately, the world does not stop turning and the poor are no less hungry because I am having a tough week. It’s good to keep a bit of perspective. So, this week I am making my own pledge to take stock and ensure that I am doing all I can to make a small difference in this big and needy world.