Why do I care?

p1000941.jpgIt is normal for me to care for my extended family and for people in my social group. But why do I care about people I have never met?

  • Why do I care about a bonded labourer, treated as a slave in India?
  • Why do I care about a child in Africa, denied an education because his parents cannot afford to send him to school?
  • Why do I care about a young woman in Thailand, forced into prostitution by ruthless traffickers in human misery?
  • Why do I care about a single mother in England, working on a minimum wage, facing the humiliation of visiting a food bank to feed her children?

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Share your bread with the hungry

Share your bread with the hungry

Those who know me, and my background with charities, will know that I am orientated towards people giving money and using that money to meet needs. But this article is about sharing, and sharing is different from just giving money. Sharing is not necessarily better than giving money, but the emotional impact is greater. Sharing food is more personal than money and connects people together in an act of love.

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Food Poverty in Britain

Poor childrenIf you had asked me 20 years ago to write about food poverty in Britain, I would have laughed and said, “No! Food poverty only exists in Africa or India.” But now, there is so much poverty in Britain, the USA and other ‘rich’ countries.

This poverty is real. I am not talking about starvation, but about malnutrition which reduces the physical and mental potential of a child. Our politicians seem to be content with creating an underclass, earning low wages to maximise the profits of big companies.

And yet, for the economy of the UK to grow, it is in the interests of the commercial sector that everybody has enough money for their needs, and money to spend. We seem to be heading relentlessly back to the 18th and 19th Century, when the gap between rich and poor was even greater than now.
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Seafood Slavery

PrawnsIt is so easy to pop into a supermarket and buy a packet of prawns, eat a pre-cooked seafood pie, or enjoy a pawn cocktail at a favourite restaurant. Have we ever stopped to wonder, how once a luxury item, is now common-place? Have we ever wondered why the price is so low?

The hard facts are that there can be abuse of workers, injustice and slavery at every stage in the process: from the women and children who catch the baby prawns (fry), the prawn farmers, the depots, the packers, and transport to your supermarket. The cheapest prawns come from Thailand, Bangladesh and other Asian countries. This is no accident, as wages are least in these countries, and exploitation and slavery is rampant, though largely hidden.

The details that follow are horrific but do not underestimate the consumer power.
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The King who washes feet

washing-feetPeter looked on with horror as the person who he had recognised as the Son of the Living God, got up from a meal they were sharing, took off his clothes and wrapped a towel around himself. He poured water into a basin and did the job of the lowliest of servants as he started  to wash the feet of his disciples and dry them with his towel.

Peter was in a turmoil. How could his Lord, Master and Teacher stoop so low and be a servant? How can I let him wash my feet? I should have washed his feet when we first arrived but I thought one of the others would do it.

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The Poverty of Riches

Poverty right next to tourist hotel in Sri Lanka

Poverty right next to tourist hotel in Sri Lanka

We normally think about poverty as being caused by a lack of money. Yet it is quite possible to be rich in terms of money and yet incredibly poor in other areas. My passion is to see a world free from the effects of absolute poverty, a world which doesn’t have a billion people surviving on less than $1 a day. Yet I am very aware that defining poverty is not about numbers and statistics, but about a lack of resources in multiple areas such as capital, earning capacity, freedom, health, faith, education, love, family, companionship and community.

I remember, 20 or so years back visiting Nigeria and speaking to people we would certainly class as extremely poor. I must have appeared to be very rich to them. But there was one particular area where I was poor compared to many of them. I cannot go into details, but no sum of money could rectify one particular situation Christine and I were faced with.

Measuring Poverty

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No more “Us” and “Them”

No more us and themI was brought up to believe that Christians would always be a minority and that we had to defend ourselves from the ‘world’ and from those who would try to destroy our faith and steal our values and beliefs. Our church was like a castle with the drawbridge up. If only we can hang on till Jesus comes and judges our enemies, then will be saved, but everyone else will be for ever punished in Hell.

We tried our best to drag others in but every Sunday the gospel was preached largely to the already converted. “Come and join us,” was the message: “Sign on the dotted line, believe what we believe, stop smoking, drinking and dancing and we will accept you as one of us”.

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