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I Have A Dream
The English author George Orwell once wrote that … “The trouble is that intelligent, cultivated people, the very people who are expected to have liberal opinions, never do mix with the poor. For what do the majority of educated people know about poverty?” Nothing exceeds most of the preposterous criticisms made on the habits of the poor then by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. Let us remind ourselves that when we want to help the poor, we offer charity to avoid recognising the problem for what it is. In a way, it shrugs off our responsibility because it removes any initiative for finding solutions for it.
THE SHACKLES OF POVERTY
It is not just in countries like New Zealand or the Philippines where you find children burdened with the heavy and unbearable shackles of poverty. Too little schooling, too many mouths to feed… the poor appear endlessly trapped in a vicious circle within an increasingly knowledge-orientated world economy.
No country has ever succeeded in lifting its citizens out of deprivation without improving its education system or ensuring that all their children are adequately fed. Unless the gap between the education and health of rich and poor children in any society is narrowed, the world is likely to become an even more unequal and unstable place.
Human activity is leaving a bigger “footprint” on the Earth than ever before. Today, more than half the world’s population now lives in cities, and there are more than 100 cities with populations of at least 2-million. The UN believes a huge effort will be needed to prevent more and more people being born into poverty and into worsening conditions where escape is more and more difficult.
A FAILURE TO DELIVER
A decade of promises made during numerous UN conferences at the close of the last century to get every child in the world properly fed and into a classroom have remained just that. These pledges – originally made to be fulfilled by the start of this millennium have fallen on the wayside. World leaders have given themselves instead an extension to 2015. On current trends, 75-million children will still be finding themselves going hungry, malnourished and missing school even by that deadline.
Sheer numbers are not the only issue. The world’s richest countries – with 20% of global population, account for 86% of private consumption; the poorest 20% account for just 1.3%. A child born today in a developed country like New Zealand will add more to consumption and pollution over his or her lifetime than 30 to 50 children born in less developed countries.
Given the lackluster performance of leaders across the world to deliver on pledges made the emphasis, according to the UN, is now focused on encouraging government and business to empower charitable organisations with a mix of policies, expertise and resources so that they instead can provide solutions and deliver these at the community level with an eye towards a brighter future.
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The 2013 Scholar Awards
SCOT is passionate about producing outcomes for disadvantaged children in New Zealand and the Philippines. Because it listens care fully to each and every child under its wings, it has learned to address their issues and concerns using a tool called encouragement. This makes it possible to make a child feel a strong sense of belonging. It is a dynamic process which produces powerful outcomes that create pathways of success for each and every one of them. It is a hand up whose reward is the sum of all efforts a child invests in his or herself. It overcomes the sum of all fears children are burdened with daily when facing poverty.
MUCH CLOSER TO HOME
One of SCOT’s chief concerns as a charity is about removing barriers for children’s learning like hunger. There is a huge dif ference for children’s learning when food is provided in schools. In a society like New Zealand – which is relatively affluent and which produces so much food, it’s scandalous that we should have so many children going to school without breakfast and or without lunch. It’s simply not acceptable that they grow up impaired.
From 2010, the significant strides and outcomes SCOT Trust New Zealand has realised for street children and orphans in its overseas operations in the Philippines at it various Hope Training Centres provide a good paradigm to adopt. Essentially, it is the same ‘hand-up versus hand-out’ approach which can be employed to combat the persistent issue of hungry children in low decile schools in New Zealand.
WHEN STOMACHS ARE GROWLING
Child poverty in New Zealand has doubled over the last 30 years. Based on official household income statistics, it is esti mated that 270,000 children live in poverty, a comparison that ranks our country very poorly alongside other OECD and dev eloped nations. Poverty remains the single largest contributor to educational under-achievement, health and wellbeing of children. Many of our children go to school without a proper breakfast and lunch. As a result, they find it difficult to con centrate. They can’t learn well enough when their stomachs are growling.
SCOT’s vision of empowering children to their full potential using education as a platform aligns well with the vision of our primary schools of giving young students a great start in life. Towards achieving that common outcome, it has also been one of SCOT’s objective to partner with existing local authorities, business and school organisations largely because there is a resource gap between public and private sector resources as it relates to those schools and charitable organisations like SCOT.
There is very little incentive for schools to give much attention to children who are in need of the most attention when the rest of society holding most of the resources don’t give the issues of child poverty and hunger a good second glance.
THE MOST IMMEDIATE ISSUE
In New Zealand, these are the impoverished schools with large numbers of students experiencing financial hardship, lower literacy, academic underachievement, a greater number of dis engaged or alienated students and more students with high needs. These schools are where an accumulation and compound ing of problems exist.
Because the most immediate issue is hunger in our schools, SCOT has since 2011 made its presence felt through collabo ration and partnership options with a primary school located in West Auckland. It is in this location where SCOT volunteers to man ‘Breakfast Club’ table setups pouring and refilling orange juice into cups and preparing toasted bread with honey, jam or other spread toppings together with providing positive greetings, farewells and encouragement to 50 primary school students. These children are the group of students (10% of the school’s population) the primary school have identified as those who come to attend class each day without having healthy and substantial breakfasts.
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A Man Called Dado
Aspirations are possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do. But the potential possi-bilities of destitute children are the most intriguing and stimulating of all. Comfort or prosperity never enriches their world as much as adversity. Their courage doesn’t always roar but it is that little voice inside their heads that says “I’ll try again tomor row”. The vitality of their spirit shows not only their ability to persist but the ability to start over. By giving them a hands up their adversity and depressing influences can be overcome not by fighting, but by rising above themselves.
IT MAY NOT BE ENOUGH
In New Zealand, there are thousands upon thousands of children regularly arriving at school hungry. There is an urgent need to ensure that schools who partner up with charitable organisations such as SCOT Trust New Zealand and others have the resources to meet that need and to work with families in communities across the land to address the underlying causes.
While schools have a role to play in providing for these children, there is absolutely a role for government, local authorities, businesses and even the more wealthy individuals in our midst to ensure that resources are made available to provide and deliver food in those schools on a sustained basis until such time as child poverty is significantly reduced.
Often times enough, having vulnerable children properly fed in schools each day may not be enough to eradicate the economic and social hardship so many families are experiencing around the world. It’s just not a problem found in New Zealand.
Rather, there is also moral and ethical requirement and wise investment that needs to be made in the education and health of children such as that, which by way of example, has been made by a rags-to-riches individual who’s featured in the video clip above.
GROWING CLAMOUR FOR ACTION
As it is for New Zealand, the problem of child poverty and hunger around the world has reached such critical proportions that it can no longer be ignored.
In response to a growing clamour for action at the highest level of governance, New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key announced the first initiative in what will be a National Food in Schools programme. During his most recent State of the Nation speech made this month of May, Mr Key indicated he would seek to introduce a Food-in-Schools programme aimed at our poorest schools in partnership with the business community.
It is hoped that government will finally provide the investment needed to meet the needs of those thousands of Kiwi children who go to school hungry each day. Yet, there are many ways to address the need for food in schools and government should not be looked upon always, in a manner of speaking, as the ‘bank of last resort’. New Zealanders should not expect its government to always fix the country’s social ills such as unemployment, unaffordable housing, high food costs and more. Sometimes, the blame rests with us and no one is absolved by mouthing the excuse that they pay their taxes so its not their problem.
No matter where around this world of ours, everyone has a stake in the future wellbeing of their countries and the societies they belong to. That wellbeing always starts with the children first because that’s where the true investment and outcome lies in the future.
For you see, what you sow is what you reap. It’s as simple as that.
SCOT Trust New Zealand | Outcomes Page
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