Archive for the ‘Poverty’ Category

Art Teaches Kids about Poverty

Why should we teach our children about global poverty and its challenges? Did you know half the world’s children live on less than $2 a day? (UN Human Development Report, 2011). And, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an astounding 22% of American children– 15.7 million–  are considered poor. (Kids Count data book, 2012).*

The topic of poverty is relevant to Texas “essential knowledge and skills” in a broad range of courses such as: economics, geography, government, history and culture. And, beyond the facts, it is essential that we empower our next generation of problem solvers with comprehension, compassion, and critical thinking about sustainability at home and in the developing world.

Click on this image of Rocinha to read about
the Origins of the Favela (RioOnWatch.org)

Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin, Texas is a new collaboration in development that will use art to create an interactive stage for learning. The next major installation of Brazilian artist Werllayne Nunes, planned for early 2014, will create a “life-sized” rendering of a portion of the favela, or shantytown. Approximately a dozen original oil paintings, an actual favela dwelling, documentary film, and other media will serve as resources for local educators.  Middle and high school students will have a unique opportunity to learn not only about Brazil but also about the broader social and economic challenges of living in informal settlements.

The educational component of the project is made possible through partnership with Public Engagement office of the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS), University of Texas at Austin. LLILAS Public Engagement is dedicated to supporting Latin America-related K-12 education. As partner to the Favela project, Public Engagement will consult teachers on appropriate topics for classroom inclusion, create standards-based curriculum units that offer an in-depth understanding of poverty and development issues, provide training and gather resources for teachers. One to two student groups per week will visit the art installation over a three-month period reaching roughly 1,000 area middle and high school students.

Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin integrates art with education on a diverse range of topics. This means of engaging students in creative learning aims to raise awareness, challenge stereotypes, and create empathy. Not only is using art in education innovative, but it also has proven positive effects on children’s academic, social, cultural, and cognitive development.

Research performed by the Arts Education Partnership and others has demonstrated the power of art in education to develop skills and abilities such as:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Problem solving and critical thinking
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Academic achievement
  • School, social and civic engagement (Arts Education Partnership)

A possible lesson plan, for example, might encourage high school students to role-play and go through group problem-solving exercises to develop solutions to specific challenges of living in a favela. Another lesson might explore the rich cultural production of the favela, especially in music, and the role arts-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played to empower youth in these communities.

In addition to school outreach, Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin will engage the community by partnering with local organizations to stage concurrent Brazil-related cultural events. The art show will remain open to the public during normal gallery hours. Austin-based social enterprise The Global Good will undertake the role of fundraising and project coordination.

While the installation itself is planned for early 2014, a number of related events or workshops, such as a possible Master Class in painting for at-risk teens, are under discussion for the interim.

For more information about the Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin project, contact  <info@theglobalgood.com>.

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*Poverty is defined by the U.S. government by income. The poverty level for 2012 was set at $23,050 (total yearly income) for a family of four.

Recommended Reading: Why Nations Fail

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (Mar 20, 2012)

Hot off the press and at the top of my reading list (along with 1/2 dozen others…) is these economists’ view of inequality and poverty on a global scale.

Why are some countries rich while others remain poor?

Continue reading

Let’s bring clean water to 100 people! (It’s World Water Day. And it’s my birthday present!)

Water is for the global good!

For my birthday, April 6, I want to get clean water to 100 people. Want to help?

You can give $43 now (my age, ugh!) or anything at all. Hey,  $10 is great.

Go to:  http://mycharitywater.org/theglobalgood

All – 100% – will go to a clean water project like a well or a filtering system. If we reach our big goal of $2000, we will bring clean drinking water to 100 people.  Clean water to drink, and not for one day either. Every day. As they say, “Water changes everything.”

 

 

 

I know it sounds silly, but ever since I read the novel Dune, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of a planet– our planet– without water. I’m a sci-fi fan. When clean drinking water becomes so rare and so precious, what does that look like? Who owns the water?

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Recommended Reading

This book should top the list for anyone in global development:

 Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

Authors Banerjee and Duflo, both MIT economists, take a close look at the poor and the decisions they make. With over fifteen years  research in dozens of countries, they suggest that poverty programs and actions should be “radically rethought”. To be effective, these programs need to change to to reflect the reality of poverty as evidenced.

Maybe…we had it all wrong? Some of these insights really challenge basic assumptions. For example, we assume the poor don’t have enough to eat, right? But Banerjee and Duflo observed that given more money, the poor didn’t buy more food, they bought better food (in similar amounts).

I don’t pretend to know all the implications of Banerjee and Duflo’s work, but I find it fascinating and think the impacts, if and when applied to poverty programs, could be profound.

For more, go to the book’s companion website:

Companion Website — Poor Economics

Have you read a great book on development lately? Recommend it here!!

50% Fewer Live in Extreme Poverty…and….

Five years before the 2015 deadline, the world has achieved one of the Millennium Development Goals to reduce extreme poverty by half.

Check out the New York Times article on March 6, 2012:

Dire Poverty Falls Despite Global Slump

Definitely this is a huge achievement to be celebrated!!  And a word of caution comes from the Trickle Up President Bill Abrams. One caveat is how we understand and define poverty. The gross numbers for poverty have fallen, but the numbers of the ultra-poor (living on $1.25/day or less) haven’t improved all that much.

Why would that be? Continue reading

The Big Idea: (UPDATED) Simple Truths About Mobile Money via NextBillion.net

Check out NextBillion.net’s latest blog post:

The Big Idea: (UPDATED) Simple Truths About Mobile Money.

Financial Inclusion is development-speak for access to banking services for the poor. Some people in development– banks?– think we need to reach the poor and “unbanked“.

That would be 2.7 billion unbanked people in world. The premise is that even if, or perhaps especially if, you have very little money and/or you live in the countryside, your money is safer at the bank.

One way to deliver financial services, when you have no brick and mortar bank,  is through cell phones. Mobile technologies have created a wealth of opportunities (pun intended) for global development.

Continue reading

The Power of Bill Gates

Let me qualify this post by saying that I am posing a question, not an outright criticism.

But I can’t help but wonder…who is Bill Gates and how is he is changing the face of the world not only with his money but also with his opinions on development policy and his access to world leaders?

Gates is a famous businessman (formerly the world’s richest) and, since 2006, a full-time  philanthropist.  And, thinking about it, this is one powerful guy.

Yesterday, February 24th, Gates committed $200 million dollars to helping small farmers in developing regions. Continue reading

Tell Me a Story

It makes sense. When you can identify with one person and her story, you are much more likely to help her.

Stories work. A story grabs my attention and lets me know what, say, Maude needs and what my money does to help her.

Check out this blog on: The Power of Stories in Social Change

Here’s how one non-profit leader who films and shares stories of the homeless Continue reading

I got mine…?

Last month (January 2012) the Inter-American Development Bank attempted to answer the question:

Does Inequality Breed Altruism or Selfishness?

The answers are based on data about Brazil’s redistributive programs, also known as cash transfer programs.

One conditional cash transfer program in Brazil is called Bolsa Familia Continue reading

Twittering for Good

Check out CGAP’s latest on the power of Twitter to “change the world with 140 characters”:

http://microfinance.cgap.org/2012/01/30/changing-the-world-with-140-characters/

Twitter can be a powerful communication tool when people need instant information or want to inspire others to immediate action. Continue reading