Hope is the place where dreams are born, and no place on earth needs hope more than in areas ravaged by extreme poverty. To attempt to live without hope destroys a person physically, mentally and emotionally. It takes a toll so severe that people, no matter how courageous they may be, eventually begin to give up and lose the will to live. To be deprived of the chance to see your children survive is more than any parent can stand. To constantly be forced to live in fear and dread wears a human being down and, without hope providing a light at the end of the tunnel, it seems impossible to go on. That is not a way to live.

Hope is just as necessary as food and water. It is intellectually stimulating to have good expectations for the future. Our brains are hardwired to search for positive outcomes and possibilities. When those scenarios are completely absent our mental faculties become confused and we become unsure and concerned about our immediate futures. This has an unsettling effect on our ability to make decisions and to choose appropriate options. If our choices are so limited that none of them present a good outcome we become discouraged and resignation sets in.

In the absence of hope, despair takes hold. In the case of extreme poverty, the despondency and desperation of facing death every day becomes over whelming. You slip into the role of a victim instead of being a functioning human being with self-esteem and dignity. All that you know and believe is stripped away by the unending brutality of life. When you must dig a grave for the child that you once embraced it is a level of pain that cannot be expressed in words. To not have hope is to die a little bit each day – until there is nothing left. How can we let human beings suffer in this way? What excuse can we possibly make that absolves us of any responsibility of stemming such pain?

No one should have to live without hope, and we can make sure that they don’t. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live lives of comfort and prosperity are the ones that can provide lifesaving relief to millions. It is our obligation to take the necessary action to offer hope where there is none. It is our responsibility to create opportunity that will transform lives. We must focus our efforts to offer possibilities that do not currently exist for a billion human beings in extreme poverty. To not use our abilities to their fullest in the effort to end suffering is disgraceful. We must use our time and talents to extend hope to those who need it most. To do any less is immoral.

So how do we create hope? It doesn’t just appear out of thin air. There has to be a systematic approach that offers solutions to multiple problems at the same time. It has to be a comprehensive effort that is directed towards the most serious situations first and then moves on to secondary issues. Hope occurs when hard work is combined with good intentions. It requires effort and persistence. It creates an atmosphere of change that sweeps away limitations and restrictive conditions. Deep, meaningful, lasting hope, that lifts a person up, is the direct result of compassion. If we care, we will do what is necessary to give others a chance in life.

Hope represents different things to different people. Hope to you might mean the possibility of getting a better job, or having the chance to improve your education, or getting the opportunity to own your own home. These are all goals that we are familiar with and share, but in other parts of the world hope represents something profoundly more important. Hope is having more than 500 calories a day to survive on. Hope is a mosquito net to protect your child from malaria. Hope is the healthy laughter of a baby who has been vaccinated against polio. Hope is a decent wage that allows a parent to provide for their family. Hope is a field near a village that has been cleared of landmines. Hope is a well that has been dug to supply safe water to drink. Hope is a trained midwife to assist in childbirth. It is all of these things and more because in reality; hope is possibility.

How would life change if you suddenly lost all hope? What if your child became gravely ill and there was no medical treatment available? What if you held them in your arms and helplessly watched them die because they couldn’t get a simple antibiotic that is available in every pharmacy in America? What if you had to dig their grave in the drought parched earth and shovel dirt into their face? Where would your hope be? This is not some imaginary tale. This is not a cheap attempt to play on your emotions. This is the reality of extreme poverty. People, particularly children, die every day and they don’t have to – and each of the dead leave behind grief-stricken loved ones for whom hope seems like an impossible dream…

…But hope is possible, and we must restore it to the one billion human beings who are enslaved in poverty because hope represents the chance of a better life. It is a life where people do not have to beg on the streets. It is a life where orphans are not ignored and forgotten. It is a life where entire populations are not consumed with illness and disease. It is a life where 25,000 innocent children do not die every 24 hours unnecessarily. It is a life that we can make possible for millions of people if we will only make the effort. YOU represent hope to those who are dying each day without food, water & medical care. If those of us with the highest standard of living in the world won’t help – who will?





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