One of my favorite parts of this blog is getting to write for the Global Team of 200 which is an off-shoot of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, a group that, well, I guess the title is pretty self-explanatory. They’re Mom Bloggers who try to do good.
I have learned about the world as a member of this group and more than a little of that knowledge came from our work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The blog of that foundation is titled Impatient Optimist, and I think it perfect sums up the overall feel of the Foundation. Bill and Melinda Gates want to leave the world better than they found it, and then want to do as much as quickly as they can.
When their annual letter came out this month, the aim was to bust a few myths about global aid and giving. Apparently, the skeptics out there are quite loud and sometimes that threatens good work that is being done and the Gates Foundation wanted to report what they know first hand about foreign aid and how it has changed the global poverty landscape.
The news is better than you think. For example, did you know how effective health education initiatives have been in Africa? Successful enough that since 1960, the life span of African women has increased from 41 years of age to 57 and that is despite the AIDS epidemic. If you took AIDS off the table, the average highest age would be 61. Now, lest you think I’m sugar coating, there is still a very real AIDS epidemic and many problems with womens’ and childrens’ health in Africa. But there has also been progress made thanks to foreign aid. In addition, the number of kids in schools since 1970 has risen from around 40% to 75% in Africa. People are healthier and more well educated now than ever before. That sounds like success to me.
Globally, the percentage of very poor has dropped by more than 1/2 since 1990. That’s pretty incredible when you stop to think about it. Again, there are still one billion people living in extreme poverty globally. The Gates letter isn’t written to tell us we’ve made everything better, it’s just trying to point out the efforts being made are working.
Here’s another myth buster from the Gates letter. Did you know that only 1% of our Federal Budget is spent on Foreign Aid? One percent works out to around $11 Billion dollars, which by anyone’s standards is a whole lot of money. But averaged out, it’s $30 per American. Would you willingly donate $30 a year to protect 120 kids from communicable diseases? That’s a question to ask when we’re talking budget cuts in this country.
There is so much more in the Gates Letter (especially about how aid is used and even misused and how overpopulation isn’t threat enough to cut off aid) that will stop you in your tracks when it comes to the way the world is changing, but I don’t want to go on and on here. It’s all so much more eloquently said by Bill Gates and Bill Nye. Yes, they bring in The Science Guy to help explain global health. Totally worth the watch for this former Science Guy geek.
The bottom line of the Gates’ Letter is that the world is changing for the better and while there is still more work to be done, rest assured that we have the power to do it. Read the letter and find out what Bill’s prediction for 2035 at www.gatesletter.com. Help #stopthemyth.
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