When I got that quote by the French philosopher tattooed on my arm, I wasn’t thinking about world poverty. I wasn’t thinking about the environment or peace or conflict or starvation or social justice. In fact, aside from puzzling over which recycling bin my coffee cup goes in, I didn’t think about much outside of my own world. Like so many others, I have plenty of my own problems to worry about, let alone ending world poverty. It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives. That daily crush of details — getting to work on time or paying the bills — can swallow up years. But if everyone only focused on what’s happening in their own world, then nothing would ever get better.
When I came to work at the World Bank Group, I didn’t understand the real scope of the #endpoverty project. Every single person that works in this organization is trying to end extreme poverty. I was still pessimistic. There’s always been extreme poverty; it’s part of our collective history — how is ending it possible? But when I saw that in 1990, 36% of the world’s population lived on less than $1.25 a day and as of 2010, that number had dropped to 16%, I realized, maybe ending extreme poverty is possible.
Now my tattoo has taken on a different meaning to me. There are a lot of terrible realities so daunting it’s easy to assume someone else is dealing with them. As global citizens, a child living in extreme poverty in South Asia is as close to you as the person physically next to you while you ride the bus, sit in the classroom or walk down the street. We all need to pitch in, because the future belongs to all of us. In that sense, ending world poverty is as much my responsibility as it is the World Bank’s. And yours.
For the past few years, we’ve been helping build a global movement to #endpoverty, using social media, videos, live events, and other means. Now it’s your turn to get involved.
What inspires you to take on ending extreme poverty? Share your inspirations in the comments below, or better yet, take to social media and help let your friends, and their friends, activists, and governments alike know what you’re doing to help #endpoverty.
- You can start by tweeting about an issue you feel is in need of attention.
- Post a photo to Instagram showing a problem in your country, city, or town that needs attention.
- Share a story and picture on Facebook that drives you and your work.
There are plenty of issues to choose from — food security, inadequate health care, child mortality, social injustices, climate change — take your pick. But people taking action together has the potential to raise awareness, to make a government hear our voices, and possibly change policies to help those living in extreme poverty. What will you #TakeOn?