Monthly Archives: September 2014

Energy Poverty

There is indeed such a thing as energy poverty. We all know about lack of food and water, insufficient resources, poor hygiene and health facilities. Energy poverty is up there on the list of world scourges. If you live without electricity, you live without the basic necessities of life: a stove, refrigerator, washing machine, heat and cooling, and more. You are no doubt below the poverty line, not a pleasant place to be.

In third world countries, generators can be used where regional utilities do not reach everyone. This is not the best answer, but it is a viable one. At least some degree of power can be supplied—for a price. Most of the poor, of course, cannot afford these devices, as handy and reliable as they are. They can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars and they eat up fuel. It is incumbent upon world charitable organizations to find them from commercial donors and manufacturers, or at least those that provide significant discounts.

We use generators as mains backup in hospitals, office buildings, and residential homes. They are a luxury. We take portable versions camping and in our RVs. How lucky we are that they are not the primary sources of power in our lives. They have limited capacity at the more affordable prices. As such, they have been relegated to bad climate areas that create frequent outages.

We take lighting for granted. Imagine having to use fossil fuels (like wood), kerosene lamps and candles as in the olden days. With poor quality of light, you can barely see at night (needed for children in school), much less read or perform any kind of task. Plus there are adverse health effects of sitting near pollutants in closed in spaces like tents including respiratory infections. Solar panels that convert the sun’s rays to electricity can replace primitive methods for sure. There must be a way to supply these otherwise costly solutions to those in need. Fire prevention, especially in those wood structures common to poverty areas, is a priority. Money is always an issue and it just isn’t there.

True economic development is correlated with modern sources of power—water, wind, steam, solar, or nuclear. Over a billion people do not have access to any of them (including 25% of India’s population). Progress is not reaching everyone worldwide. Superior methods are not available everywhere. Kerosene, invented in the mid-19th century, is still a staple of many country towns and even urban slums. Cooking fuel is even harder to come by. It is called energy poverty and it is no joke.

Breaking the cycle of poverty means supplying cheap and effective electrical resources where they do not yet exist. The generator stop gap is just that—a temporary plan. Educating the poor is a good start and is already taking place with organizations like Pollinate Energy. Fundraising is ever present. We have a long way to go, but the effort put in now will reap great rewards down the road.

Water and Poverty

Supporting World Vision is a blessing and a boon in one’s life. If you have any sense of responsibility, here is no greater reward than helping children in need whether it is from violence or lack of proper nutrition and care. Every child deserves clean water at the very least. It is the most basic requirement. Poverty is not a vice but a fact of life in many parts of the world and it must be remedied. Anything one does to play a part is more than welcome. Joining hands in publicizing need is my mission.

That being said, why is water such a universal problem? We are in the 21st century after all. In the west, we take it for granted that our water will be safe to drink and free from harmful chemicals. It is treated if it has any trace of toxins that may cause harm. We have state-of-the-art faucets and fixtures from which to avail ourselves of this essential substance. This is not the case around the world. Areas of severe poverty suffer from a lack of infrastructure to provide potable water. Plumbing is primitive at best and begs for replacement if not minimal upgrading. The poor cannot relocate or change their circumstances. They can’t afford expensive systems and bottled water. They are at the mercy of their surroundings and usually have no voice to effect change. Sometimes they simply go without.

Water is one of the fundamental essences of life with earth, air, and fire. It seems to be ignored, however, in many countries where governments are remiss in addressing the problem. Good health and well-being is affected negatively when water is not safe. Rivers and streams, and lakes and ponds can’t necessarily be relied upon. In many locations in the countryside where a large portion of the poor reside the powers that be do not regulate the dumping of waste. It is a perennial problem that will only get worse unless attention is drawn internationally to the dire nature of the matter.

Outhouses and sheds are not our image of modern plumbing or even of human life. Disease is associated with lack of facilities. Pumps instead of running water from faucets are not our idea of a good mode of existence. Imagine children in torn rags with large pleading eyes suffering from hunger and thirst and you will know the gravity of much of the third world. It is imperative to find a solution. Plumbing is expensive if you must start from ground zero and when it is not part of the intrinsic native culture. Modernization can mean an entire retrenching of the infrastructure. It seems like an all or none proposition. Local resources are not usually available and funding must come from charitable organizations like World Vision. Is it likely we can cover so much need?

Next time you turn on your faucet in the kitchen and let the water flow freely, think about those who do not have this amazing luxury. Ponder the wealth of resources that others no not enjoy.

When’s The Last Time You Actually Felt Hunger?

It’s pretty simple.  You get hungry, you raid the fridge.  Or, drive up to McDonalds or run in a Subway if you are into a quick fix.  Of course you can go all out and fix a nutritional meal if you are so inclined or even go for a sit down lunch or dinner.  Yep, it’s pretty simple…unless you live in Adet, Ethiopia or some other impoverished country in which case your only option may just be to stay hungry.

It’s something most of us have no clue about.  I mean, there have only been a few times I can remember really being hungry and not eating right away.  Once was in Vacation Bible School when I was a kid.  I had forgotten to eat breakfast and got hungry right about the time I got there.  As luck would have it, the lesson was on the “Five Loaves and Two Fishes’ that fed the multitudes.  The little snack of milk and cookies didn’t make a dent in my starvation.  My tummy grumbled and complained all the way through until finally, class was over.  I talked my mother into stopping by Whataburger and the suffering was over.

Hum…that is pretty pathetic.  What if I had gone all day without eating or for several days or a week?  I can honestly say that I have no earthly idea what it feels like to really be hungry.

There are those, though, who have no idea what it feels like to NOT be hungry.  It is a way of life.  And worse than being hungry themselves is watching their loved ones go hungry.  It must break a mother’s heart to watch her children starve.

That is where World Vision steps in.  The organization is on a mission to stomp out world hunger.  It’s quite a feat and it can’t be done overnight but they are making great and wonderful strides and are making a difference, one mouth at a time.

The organization helps in other areas too such as working to provide drinkable water.  Again, I don’t know what it’s like to be thirsty and not have something to drink.  I cannot imagine not having some form of water that I could safely drink.  Do you?

Numbers don’t lie.  World Vision is a Christian humanitarian group that is currently providing help to 1,650 communities in close to 100 countries. This year alone, it has given aid to 11 million disaster survivors in need.  How do they do it?  Through sponsorship and donations and fund raising events.

There are concerts and events that help boost funds for this charity.  When you attend one of these, you not only get to enjoy the entertainment, you can feel good about helping the less fortunate as well.

Out of site out of mind.  That is a good philosophy for hiding your cigarettes or trying to get over a bad relationship but it doesn’t work when it comes to those in need.  They will still be there, hoping and praying that help will arrive…in time.  I hope that you will join me in helping to make sure that it does.