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'Eradicating Global Poverty:'
a new study guide from the NCC
Eradicating Global Poverty:
New York, February 2, 2006 -- If the poor will always be with us, why should we eradicate extreme poverty?
Because we can, experts say. Humanity has the means to end worldwide poverty in our lifetime. The real question is, will we do it?
A new study guide released today by the National Council of Churches USA, Eradicating Poverty: A Christian Study Guide on the Millennium Development Goals, tackles these and other pressing issues.
The Millennium Development Goals are a set of eight goals to end extreme poverty, hunger and disease by 2015, agreed to be world leaders in 2000. (Click here to read the goals.)
The study guide aims to motivate people to make the goals a reality, according to Lallie B. Lloyd, author of the guide.
"Since the Millennium Development Goals were announced in 2000," Lloyd writes, "a global movement has emerged. Around the world, and across the United States, Christians are joining other people of faith . . . in a unified effort to eradicate extreme poverty."
The goal is not a fantasy, says economist Jeffrey Sachs. "Ours is the first generation in the history of the world with the ability to eradicate extreme poverty. We have the means, the resources and the know-how. All we lack is the will."
Jesus told his disciples that there will always be poor people, and so long as sinful humans are in charge of the earth, that will remain true. But millions around the world are trapped in a relentless, hopeless poverty that kills people -- that allows children and their parents to suffer and die from starvation, disease and political neglect.
Jesus would be appalled by poverty this extreme, and by Christians who are indifferent to it.
"If we were to learn today, for the first time in human history, we have the tools, knowledge and wealth to end extreme poverty," asks Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, Associate General Secretary of the NCC for International Affairs and Peace, "would we take the necessary steps to do so?"
The editors and writers of Eradicating Global Poverty believe the answer is, yes.
The study guide has six sessions for use in congregational church school classes and other settings "to foster an understanding of the pertinent issues and promote this worldwide effort on behalf of the poor," said Kireopoulos, the guide's editor. Each session examines one or more of the Millennium Development Goals. An appendix to the guide examines the special economic and political challenges facing the African continent.
All study sessions are timely and at times emotionally compelling. The guide's reminder that millions of poor women experience pregnancy and childbirth without medical support, and 500,000 women die in childbirth each year, will inspire many readers to get involved in eradicating global poverty. Similarly, it is heart-rending to read that 11 million children under 5 died from the lack of medical care -- and that 43 developing countries account for 90 percent of the world's deaths of children under 5.
The study session on HIV/AIDS draws a vivid contrast between the ready availability of AIDS treatment in North America and Europe and the almost total lack of it in the developing world. By the end of 2004, 39.4 million people were living with HIV (the highest number ever). Two thirds of all the people living with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa. (See the sample selection from the chapter on HIV/AIDS here.) The figures will be jarring to Americans in church study groups who are no longer seeing HIV/AIDS reported as a major new story in U.S. media. The facts suggest that HIV/AIDS remains one of the most tragic news stories on the globe.
The idea for the study guide grew out of a meeting hosted by the NCC that included a presentation by Sachs, director of the Millennium Project, a UN-commissioned advisory body that proposes solutions to meeting the goals by 2015. The NCC governing board has endorsed the U.N. Millennium Development goals. The study guide was made possible in part by a grant from industrialist Chang K. Park, a Christian layman from New York.
The editors of the guide believe the time may be ripe for a major movement to implement the U.N. goals and effectively end the poverty that is killing millions around the world.
"Christians were at the forefront of several major movements for social change," author Lloyd writes. "From the establishment of the earliest orphanages, hospitals and public schools, to the abolition of slavery and forced child labor . . . Christians have heard the cry of the suffering and said, 'Enough, it's time to stop.'"
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