Feb 25 2015

Impact of Global Warming on Humanity

In his State of the Union 2015 address, President Obama talked about the climate change and its effects on the USA national security, among other issues - watch this portion of the video here. Many people take Global Warming for granted, not knowing its devastating effects on the humanity as a whole. The bigger picture is that Global Warming affects all mankind, from every country and every corner of the planet. The BBC recently made a report about rising sea levels in the north east of the US and Canada, most likely affected by the effects of the climate change. The key point, however, is to present this in a way so that a typical person can understand the significant effects these changes will have in their very life. The Guardian wrote a very concise analysis of a report released by the UN in 2014, outlining the consequences of the current trend in the ever-increasing greenhouse gases and the rising Global Warming. Drought
Some key points include:
  • Global Warming is happening on all continents and oceans, driving heatwaves and other weather-related disasters
  • Global Warming has the very real potential to cause conflicts and make very prone environments to wars
  • Reduction in crops yield and increased food prices driven by dryer and less-fertile soil due to increasing temperatures
  • The situation for the already poor and disadvantaged people is going to get worse and they will be going through malnutrition
  • Mass migrations would put a lot of strain on the receiving nations' economies and lead to tension and conflict
  • Poorer countries or countries already in poverty will find it even more difficult to climb out, in a spiral vicious cycle
  • Governments need to take action now
People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalised are especially vulnerable to climate change. UN Report on Global Warming in 2014
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Fardad Jabbary, Kids Of Poverty contributor Fardad Jabbary
I am the lead engineer and designer of Costa Core, the maker of Kids Of Poverty website. I am also the founder of KOP. Thanks to all the other contributors, we now have a lively and active project in full motion... this is very exciting!

Jun 14 2014

Malnutrition leaves children damaged for life

 
New studies show malnutrition during early development leaves children digestive system damaged for life, even after (and if) malnutrition is treated. In healthy people, the good kind of bacteria in the gut help break down the nutrients in the gut so they can be absorbed by the body. Malnourished child Research shows malnutrition damages these good microbes and the gut flora for life. With the devastating number of malnourished children in the world, this has life-long effects on these children's health, should they ever manage to get out of poverty. It is imperative urgent action needs to be taken today to stop yet another catastrophic effect of malnutrition, especially in early childhood development. In countries such as Bangladesh more than 40% of children under five are affected by stunted growth. That is almost half of the future generation of the country is condemned to life-long health deficiencies because of lack if action today.
The World Health Organization estimates severe acute malnutrition affects about 20 million children worldwide. Moderate acute malnutrition, a less serious form of the disease, is more prevalent in South Central Asia, where it affects 30 million children.World Health Organization
Read more about this here.
 
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Fardad Jabbary, Kids Of Poverty contributor Fardad Jabbary
I am the lead engineer and designer of Costa Core, the maker of Kids Of Poverty website. I am also the founder of KOP. Thanks to all the other contributors, we now have a lively and active project in full motion... this is very exciting!

Nov 22 2013

Temporary relief for the kids in Tacloban

 
After the recent devastation caused by the typhoon Hayian (Yolanda) in the Philippines, the latest death toll estimates surpass 5,209 people (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/22/philippines-typhoon_n_4322763.html). UNICEF Canada - PhilippinesThis number means a lot of families are torn apart and a lot of children losing their parents, siblings or entire families. All the physical and infrastructural damages aside, the human tragedy is simply horrific. But there is also some good news! Thanks to many charities and organisations, there is some comfort for the affected. UNICEF Canada just wrote about some relief, however temporary, they've been able to provide for the newly orphaned. The following is taken from their Facebook page:
Positive news! We've just set up our first child friendly space in Tacloban, Philippines. It's a clean, sheltered area where children can play, sing, laugh and simply be children under the guidance of trained workers. Spaces like these are vital as children face an increased risk of exploitation in the aftermath of Haiyan.UNICEF Canada
Read more about their amazing work on their blog.
 
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Fardad Jabbary, Kids Of Poverty contributor Fardad Jabbary
I am the lead engineer and designer of Costa Core, the maker of Kids Of Poverty website. I am also the founder of KOP. Thanks to all the other contributors, we now have a lively and active project in full motion... this is very exciting!

Nov 13 2013

Why is the world so ignorant?

 
In the year 2000, UNICEF issued a report (Progress of Nations) which includes some soul-shaking data. The following is from that report:
The continuation of this suffering and loss of life contravenes the natural human instinct to help in times of disaster. Imagine the horror of the world if a major earthquake were to occur and people stood by and watched without assisting the survivors! Yet every day, the equivalent of a major earthquake killing over 30,000 young children occurs to a disturbingly muted response. They die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.Progress of Nations, 2000 report
Today, every 4 seconds a child is perishing. That is, 21,000 kids die every single day due to catastrophic conditions. The troubling fact is these conditions are almost all preventable. The majority of the deaths are caused by poor sanitation, unsafe drinking water, starvation and malnutrition, preventable diseases and illnesses, war and conflicts and abuse. Whilst the world wastes more than 1 third of food produced each year, there are about 1 billion people going to sleep hungry. And whilst stockpiles of drugs are rotting in warehouses, there are millions suffering from the very same diseases that those medications would cure. So what is happening? So why is it that in a developed country one can over-stuff themselves in an all-you-can-eat restaurant for about $10 but there are hundreds of millions of people dealing with malnutrition and the diseases it causes? Why should it be that 2.4 billion people in the world live under $2 a day but we don't even blink paying $3 for a coffee at Starbucks?Poor kid and flies - photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/doc_ (Sias van Schalkwyk, Zululand, South Africa) Now I wouldn't complain as much if this situation existed and we were doing something about it. If, at the very least, it was on our list of remote concerns. But it is not. Not only it is not, but it seems the world is so ignorant that as pointed out in the 2000 report, this catastrophe on such a massive scale doesn't even make the headlines. Why is this? Is it that we have become so insensitive towards pain, suffering and death of our kind that even though we can do something to prevent it, but not only we don't do that, we don't even bother to learn about it? Even on a rare occasion that we may happen to see a story about this on the news, we'd change the channel indifferently - if not feeling annoyed by 'those misery ads again'! The past is the past and the future hasn't come yet. Our ancestors lived their lives, for good or bad, the way they did. And the future generations have not come around yet. It is us who live today; it is us that carry the responsibility on our shoulders, whether we like it or not. I don't even care that much what the future generations will think of us (and most likely learn about our indifference in disbelief and astonishment), my concern is if we don't do anything about this, who will? Until when are we going to sit aside and let 'others' suffer in pain and misery and die a painful death on a mass scale while we watch them indifferently? For more information and sources check out: http://www.globalissues.org/article/715/today-21000-children-died-around-the-world http://www.unicef.org/pon00/immu1.htm http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/overview
 
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Fardad Jabbary, Kids Of Poverty contributor Fardad Jabbary
I am the lead engineer and designer of Costa Core, the maker of Kids Of Poverty website. I am also the founder of KOP. Thanks to all the other contributors, we now have a lively and active project in full motion... this is very exciting!

Nov 13 2013

Why do the poor have so many kids?

 
If you're poor, if you can hardly support yourself, then it is only logic the last thing you'd want to do is to have more kids, right? This may be logical but clearly it is not what is happening in the world. The population is growing fast. However, the number of the poor is growing even faster because more and more children are born into poor families. But... Surely this defies the logic, doesn't it? What's happening here?!

The problem

Poor children - photo credit: http://http://www.sxc.hu/gallery/jonathan_n/ Quite a while ago, I was having a conversation with Walter, a middle-aged Indian gentleman. The question had been bugging me for a while that why would you have kids, and not even only one or two, but five or six, if you yourself go to bed hungry at night? Surely the poor can see the dire situation they themselves and their families live in, can't they? I asked Walter this, given he was Indian and brought up in a country plagued by poverty. Walter is an immigrant thought, having lived in the West for the past two decades. So he had seen the story from both sides. I'll never forget that conversation as it was very enlightening for me. Walter agreed that it, of course, makes sense that if you can barely make it yourself, you shouldn't bring someone else, whom you cannot support, into life. That is a purely and simply sentencing them to a life of hardship from the very beginning, without any fault of their own. But this is the way we see it. Chances are, if you use the Internet and are reading this article, you do have a decent level of education and know the world outside your village or town, wherever you're from. But many don't. Many people living in poverty do not get any education whatsoever. Many are not even literate, let alone getting educated about protective measures to prevent pregnancy.

The cause

Basically, as Walter explained it to me, the root of the problem comes down to two things:
  • The very poor do not get a proper education or learn life skills (including preventive measures) outside their small and typically closed communities - so basically they don't know any better
  • Some also still have the very old school mentality that more children could help them with the chores and farming and hope that their kids will grow up and improve the whole family's situation
The problem though gets worse - what these people fail to understand (because they haven't been educated so they don't know any better) is that the kids born into poverty, without access to proper education and learning proper life skills, grow up (that is, IF they survive) to form yet another family with even more children living in poverty, not being able to provide a better situation for them and hence the cycle continues.

Break the cycle?

How, then, can the cycle be broken? The answer is proper education and cultural improvements. Education is not only about getting a University degree. It doesn't even have to be formal, in many cases. It is about learning the way of the world, learning about how the others live and learning skills out of the community one is born into. If the poor had smaller families, they could support themselves better. They would then provide more opportunities for their children to progress and at least be able to provide a chance to break the poverty cycle for their families. But this could only come about with planning and providing education in affected areas - this can be done and it is a must! And, it is our job to do it.
 
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Fardad Jabbary, Kids Of Poverty contributor Fardad Jabbary
I am the lead engineer and designer of Costa Core, the maker of Kids Of Poverty website. I am also the founder of KOP. Thanks to all the other contributors, we now have a lively and active project in full motion... this is very exciting!

Nov 12 2013

Water: the most basic human right of all

 
Water. It's simple, right? Not quite. For millions of people, access to clean water is a rare occurrence. But what does this actually mean?

Water kills youThe Water Project, a success story

Water is essential for life. Without water, we would not be. Nobody can live without water for long. The same is true for millions of people without access to clean water. These people are forced to use dirty and contaminated water just to survive which results in catastrophic health and sanitation problems causing more than 1.5 million deaths  per year in children under the age of 5 alone. 1.5 million deaths just for using unsafe water! That is, just today, more than 4,100 kids under 5 died only for using unclean water. I do not know of any other human right more basic than access to clean water!

It's not just about thirst

Water is, of course, used for more than just drinking. It is also essential for proper sanitation and basic hygiene, absence of which causes numerous diseases including diarrhea. More than 1 billion people do not have access to clean water, of which almost half are children - that is 500 million kids who are doomed to go through thirst and horrific illnesses many of which result in a slow and painful death.

Nothing can be done?

Of course there is! More than 70% of our planet is covered by oceans. There is far more than enough water on Earth - the problem is providing access to clean water. There are many projects dedicated to this issue (see this for instance). On average, it costs <em>less</em> than $10,000 to provide access to clean water for an entire village! Only $10,000! A very small price to save many lives and improve the quality of life and chance of survival for many people in desperate and urgent need. In 2012 alone, the world spent more than $1,836,564,000,000 on building more sophisticated weapons to kill each other more efficiently (the total military expenditure). The entire water crisis could be resolved by that sum. Why is it not? Why is it that we care more about killing each other faster and on a larger scale than we care about fellow humans dying from preventable conditions?! For more information and sources check out: http://thewaterproject.org/sponsor-a-well-in-africa.asp http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-global-poverty http://www.watercan.com/learnmore/index.htm
 
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Fardad Jabbary, Kids Of Poverty contributor Fardad Jabbary
I am the lead engineer and designer of Costa Core, the maker of Kids Of Poverty website. I am also the founder of KOP. Thanks to all the other contributors, we now have a lively and active project in full motion... this is very exciting!

Nov 12 2013

Kicked out of home? There is always the wasteland…

 
A street child is a child who has nowhere to call 'home'. There are hundreds of millions of children living worldwide without a home and without any or sufficient supervision, making them vulnerable to predators, crime gangs, child soldier 'recruiters', disease, hunger and starvation among other terrible misfortunes. Unfortunately, the number of street children is growing. These streets mainly live on the streets, abandoned dwellings and wastelands. Street children - photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudiroels/

Out of the house

According to Amnesty International, up to 10% of street children have either run away from home or have been abandoned by their families. According to The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have the rights to civil rights and freedoms, family environment, basic health and welfare, education, leisure and cultural activities and special protection measures for children. This convention was adopted in 1989 and widely ratified. Nonetheless, the dire situation these children have to endure continues and also worsens by the growing population and conflicts in their communities.

It gets worse

It is not always the older children who get thrown out. In 2003 there were about 110 infants on the streets of Khartoum (Sudan) every month! And with no surprise, 50% of those perished within hours. This issue affects societies affected by war and conflicts as the mother can barely fend for herself and possibly her other children. As horrible as leaving an infant out on the street is, some of these mothers think by doing so the child may have a better chance of survival or a better life. This, of course, does not justify such action. However, it is a good indicator of the catastrophic situation that the community is under. For more information and sources check out: http://www.streetchildren.org.uk/_uploads/resources/Street_Children_Stats_FINAL.pdf http://www.amnesty.org/en/children
 
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Fardad Jabbary, Kids Of Poverty contributor Fardad Jabbary
I am the lead engineer and designer of Costa Core, the maker of Kids Of Poverty website. I am also the founder of KOP. Thanks to all the other contributors, we now have a lively and active project in full motion... this is very exciting!

Nov 11 2013

Are poor people less intelligent?

 
Recent study shows poverty affects mental development of children as well as cognitive function and common logic of adults struggling with immediate financial worries.

Lifelong Effect

New research shows children struggling with poverty early in life suffer from negative mental effects that last all their lives. These effects include learning difficulties, depression and inability to cope with stress. This, of course, makes sense if you think about it. People and especially children thrive and progress using the resources they have available to them. This is why parents in developed countries are encouraged to provide colourful and stimulating toys for their babies and children so that their growing brains can develop further by stimulation. Rural Indian women Now the same applies to older children and adults. As Jiaying Zhao, a cognitive researcher, puts it:
These pressures [extreme and immediate money worries] create a salient concern in the mind and draw mental resources to the problem itself. That means we are unable to focus on other things in life that need our attention. Previous views of poverty have blamed poverty on personal failings, or an environment that is not conducive to success. We're arguing that the lack of financial resources itself can lead to impaired cognitive function. The very condition of not having enough can actually be a cause of poverty.Jiaying Zhao
Throughout human history, arts and developments only occurred when our ancestors didn't have to worry about their next meal. A person with a starving stomach cannot think clearly. Neither can a sick one or one under extreme stress - all of which are caused by poverty.

Poverty reduces IQ

Poverty not only affects thinking clearly, but the research also showed that people overly worried about their immediate money problems had a drop in their cognitive function, equivalent to a 13-point fall in IQ! This is equivalent to a whole night sleep deprivation. Now imagine that going on on a constant basis, with nowhere to run or hide - and worst of all, feeling helpless about the situation and hopeless about getting out of it. Again, this vicious cycle continues - getting worse and worse over time. So which is it? Is it that people in poverty are less intelligent or that poverty causes barriers to mental progress and life skills development? This is a good example of a chicken and egg problem. Which came first?! As mentioned above, research after research shows an important and limiting role poverty plays in mental and life skills development in both children and adults. Another way of looking at this is to look at our past. The vast majority of human ingenuity has come around in the past century alone. So were our ancestors intellectually less capable? Or was it that they were limited to thrive by the tools they had at hand at the time they lived? Is it that if an exact same man who lived 500 years ago was born now and raised and learned the way we live today, he'd be clueless in life after all? I doubt anyone could argue for this. The simple and undeniable fact is that that man was limited by the situation he was in, by the knowledge at his time and by the fact that struggling for survival didn't leave much room for progress. That is the very same situation children in poverty face: nowhere to learn life skills and nowhere to get a good education. Even if they somehow manage to feed themselves by any means, which is a struggle on its own right, they still have to be extremely lucky to dodge death due to illness and sickness, war and crime, child-trafficking and sex slavery - and many other unthinkable problems which are everyday struggles for them. So using commonsense and now as evident by research, people in poverty do have the same capabilities as anyone else but are limited by their situation to:
  • Develop that capability further
  • Improve their situation
After all, one can only make something out of something - not something out of nothing. For more information and sources check out: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265501.php http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/268066.php http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6149/976
 
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Fardad Jabbary, Kids Of Poverty contributor Fardad Jabbary
I am the lead engineer and designer of Costa Core, the maker of Kids Of Poverty website. I am also the founder of KOP. Thanks to all the other contributors, we now have a lively and active project in full motion... this is very exciting!

Nov 4 2013

Kids Of Poverty’s relaunch

 
Just slightly after our second anniversary, Kids Of Poverty has now got a whole new makeover. KOP is back, and with a vengeance! The new KOP is much more social and is designed to be based on collaboration. Within the past two years, KOP was solely run, without the ability for contributors to pitch in individually. Sure, we did have photographers who were kind enough to provide us with their work free of charge (as KOP is a non-profit project) but updating the website and adding new materials did not happen very frequently due to the way KOP was run.Kids Of Poverty's new look However, everything is now different. Our new website is based on social interaction and collaboration. There are virtually no limits to the number of collaborators willing to contribute to the project by writing articles or giving us permission to use their photographs. If you are interested to know more about this or if you think you may be able to help in one way or another, please take a look here to find out what you can do - we are confident there is something you'd be interested in - every little help helps! After all, we are all volunteers and there is no long-run commitments - so try us out!
 
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Fardad Jabbary, Kids Of Poverty contributor Fardad Jabbary
I am the lead engineer and designer of Costa Core, the maker of Kids Of Poverty website. I am also the founder of KOP. Thanks to all the other contributors, we now have a lively and active project in full motion... this is very exciting!