“That’s impossible!” If you listen close enough you can probably hear these words echoing right now – a chant that’s been replayed since beginning of time. But despite the disbelief, man has walked on the moon, a portable handheld device has been developed that allows instant communication with anyone in the world and even an Oscar has been awarded to Leonardo di Caprio.
But what about empowering the hundreds of millions of people who are currently living in poverty? What about uniting together to end discrimination and the violation of human rights caused by poverty? What about eradicating poverty completely?
Today, 17 October marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It first took place in 1987 to commemorate the 1948 signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Recognising that poverty is one of the major violations of human rights, every year people have come together to acknowledge the truths and challenges of poverty, as well as the efforts made to eradicate it.
It’s been a while since 1987, and even longer since 1948. But believe it or not, humankind has (once again) made some progress. Since the announcement of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, we have achieved the target of halving the amount of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. In 2016, we’re well on our way to eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.
Opportunity International Australia uses microfinance as a highly impactful tool to play our part in eradicating poverty. And the change agents are not some large organisations or wealthy philanthropists. They are, in fact, the people living in poor communities themselves.
Working with local teams in their own communities to provide small loans, training and support, opportunities to become self-sustainable are becoming realities for many individuals and families. Like a ripple effect, your hand up rather than a hand-out is what drives these individuals to provide opportunities and empower others in their own communities.
It was a hand up from someone like you that enabled Roshni to take on mushroom farming full time. With a small loan, she was able to invest in more seeds and build a shed to grow them in. Today, Roshni’s income is Rs.20,000 (A$392.96) a month – more money than she has ever earned in her life. What’s more, she was able to hire three professionals to train 100 people in her community in mushroom growing and now three people have grown their own businesses.
“We were always a poor family. We lived in a small hut... During monsoons we would starve... But now I feel very happy. I am doing this on my own and earning well to meet our expenses… Whatever difficulties we face, this business is there and that is a source of strength for me.”
Nothing is really impossible when people come together. The Great Australian Curry is one such way Australians can do just that and play our part in giving a hand up to families living in poverty. Get involved here.
As Nobel Peace Prize winner and pioneer of microfinance, Professor Muhammad Yunus has said, “The only place where poverty should be is in museums” – an exhibition reminding us of the past and humankind’s achievement of overcoming it. Together, we can open such an exhibition, right next to the model of the space shuttle, the first mobile phone and even Leo’s Oscar.
William Cupido is Opportunity International Australia's Communications Intern, supporting the organisation in a range of communications activities.