Human compassion should have no borders. The reason why I came to Bangladesh for this project is because: 1) it was the only place I could financially afford to visit and stay for long periods of time, and 2) because there is so much poverty here. With over 150 million people in Bangladesh there are more people here earning less than $2 a day than there are people in all the countries which normally get media attention. That’s more than South Africa, more than Cambodia, more than Malawi, and more than Sudan (and Darfur) – combined.
There is also a distinction between the kind of poverty you see here in Bangladesh from the kind of poverty you might see in the streets of Toronto, Canada (my hometown). Before I came to Bangladesh, I saw a program on The National about a reporter who tried to help a homeless person on the streets of Toronto. He did his best to help him on his feet – work placement, finding a place to stay, etc,. But, in the end, the homeless person wound up back at the same street corner. The point wasn’t that it was hopeless to help the poor in Canada (it’s not) – it’s just that solving poverty in Canada requires a focus on certain areas of the social support system that are quite often neglected (such as treating drug addiction, counseling for abuse, and support on mental health issues).
The poorest of the poor in the developing world don’t have access to clean water, don’t have access to education, and are malnurished. Solving global third world poverty is such low-lying fruit to solve that it is a crying shame it still exists in 2008. Maybe the fact many people think that focusing on problems within’s one’s borders and worrying about domestic issues first is part of the reason global poverty still exists. But – and I’ve said this a dozen times – making the world a better place for others, makes it a better place for us all.