Answering the call to end poverty

By: Sister Gillian Price

In anticipation of the first World Day of the Poor Pope Francis invited people around the world to love and cater for the poor, 'not only with words but with deeds'.

30 years ago on 17th October a Catholic Priest, Father Joseph Wresinski also made a call to action in words which were inscribed on a Commemorative stone in the Trocadero Human Rights Plaza in Paris.

"On the 17th of October 1987, defenders of human and civil rights from every continent gathered on this plaza. They paid homage to the victims of hunger, ignorance and violence. They affirmed their conviction that human misery is not inevitable. They pledged their solidarity with all people who, throughout the world, strive to eradicate extreme poverty.

"Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty."

Father Joseph Wresinski

25 years ago, recognising Father Wresinski's call, the United Nations enshrined 17th October as 'The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty' also known as 'World Poverty Day'.

This year the theme of World Poverty Day is:

'Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies'

CAFOD, Tearfund, RESULTS, Save the Children and five other International Development Organisations will be marking this special anniversary by holding a parliamentary lobby on 17th October. Together with our MP's ordinary people will be celebrating the progress made in which UK aid has played a powerful role eg the number of people living in extreme poverty in the world has halved in recent years. In the last five years UK aid has helped to alleviate poverty and contributed to sustainable development around the globe.

Amongst other things it has:

- Provided 24.5 million children under five, breastfeeding & pregnant women with much-needed nutrition
- Helped immunise more than 55 million children against preventable diseases
- Supported 11 million children in primary and lower secondary education
- Reached over 60 million people with access to water and sanitation
- Through the Global fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria helped to keep 9.2 million people alive and on treatment for HIV

By targeting the most fragile states and regions The Department for International Development (DFID) ensures that it targets the world's poorest and most vulnerable. People like Aminu Ahmen el- Wada who contracted polio as a child and now makes hand operated cycles, employing 20 people, 15 of them polio survivors. "Otherwise we would be beggars", he says. This is because in Africa nobody can help you if you are disabled". Earlier this year, a polio eradication campaign in Nigeria sought to reach the most remote children to vaccinate them against polio. The Global Polio Eradication initiative (GPEI) aims for a polio free world by 2010, and in August this year the UK pledged £1000 million to support its efforts, which will not only fight polio, but also leave networks of trained health workers who can deliver other forms of healthcare.

With 16,000 children under five dying needlessly each day, there is still much to do and sections of the press are not helping. Every week the media attacks aid claiming that the UK public does not support development or aid spending. This is a distorted picture as a 2017 Eurobarometer poll found that 58% of those surveyed thought that tackling poverty in developing countries should be one of the main priorities of their national government. We can all heed Pope Francis' call to work "not only with words, but with deeds" by standing up for UK Aid, we can tweet, write and speak about why we are proud of the difference UK aid is making around the world – and call on our MP's to do the same.

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