Friday was Red Nose Day, and although I’ve always given, I’ve always been slightly irritated by the lack of acknowledgment of the part played, in these many overseas crises, by the Government’s themselves. I think this year highlighted this a lot for me this year, and again I feel the need to point out that I have no specialist knowledge of the situations in the African states other than what I am fed by the Media and Government.
This year was a harrowing one, and the films spaced between the comedy sequences were some of the saddest images I’ve ever seen since the original films from Ethiopia that sparked Band Aid. One presenter was finding it hard to speak as he introduced, and closed the piece he had filmed while he was there. Watching it was even harder. During the film he pointed out each person who was now dead from AIDS.
Dead, and yet there are still struggles in African politics to accept that there is an epidemic, and even a disease called AIDS. For me, that is the most shocking, and a huge wealth of the problem has to lie with those within the Governments who will not believe, or will not announce to the outside world. Yes, and I do understand that there are other factors involved. Debt, price and availability of drugs, and fairer trade for all.
Despite my feelings, I still donated. I gave knowing all this because you really can see Comic Relief, and other charities just like it, making a real difference on the people level. They did a wonderful thing this year, which I wish they did more of, which was to film some of the people that were saved, buildings that were erected, farms that were developed and babies that were born and then named people who had donated and helped to make them possible.
Lenny Henry thanked one girl for giving her megre pocket money, and announced that what she thought was small, was enough to feed seventeen children sitting around him that day. It was a moment of genius, and I am sure that donations must have rocketed at that moment.
Bob Geldoff quoted that all it would take is half a stick of chewing gum from everyone in the EU member states to cancel the African debt. Half a stick of chewing gum. Why aren’t we doing this? Why aren’t we saving lives?
Now here I sit, comfortable that I have donated an amount of money that I can easily afford, and I should forget it for another year. Well no, shouldn’t. That’s merely paying off my conscience. In three weeks when I’m tucking into my tea with a nice bottle of wine, people are still dying in the same numbers as last week.
The G8 leaders meet in Edinburgh, Scotland (I might ask them round for a cup of tea) and one of the things that will be on the agenda is debt in Third World Countries. Comic Relief, along with many other charities, are pushing hard to make this happen. For this they are asking you to buy a small white band which you can wear throughout the year to show you want the debt cancelled.
I mean who will pay it back? I watched a film on Comic Relief of a man who died the day after filming. Why? He was too poor to live. That means to eat, to drink, to do anything. He died from being poor, and that’s all. By having that debt there, we helped make him poor.
This year is the biggest chance we will ever have of making poverty history.
And it’s down to you.
Please do absolutely everything you can to take advantage of the many opportunities during 2005 to stop a child dying needlessly every 3 seconds, just because it was born poor.
Along with millions of others I’ll be wearing a white band this year to remind you of what you must do.
Please use your international leadership to deliver crucial changes on trade justice, debt and aid.
Enough is enough Mr Blair.Make Poverty History Email
So I’ve donated, I’ve just joined the mailing list for ending Make Poverty History, I’ve completed the email to Tony Blair and I’m going to buy some white bands to wear for the year. In fact, I just did.
I don’t like Blair, and I’ll never vote for him, but he could just do the decent, moral, and above all human act, and end the outstanding debt against such countries who are struggling with death on such a massive scale.
Again though, I return to my original concern. The Governments involved. When their debt is cancelled what will they do? Announce that they do have AIDS epidemics? Turn those debt repayments back towards the people and begin to build a country filled with healthy citizens? I fear not, but the step has to be taken, and with the aid going straight to the people who need it already, this is the next big step.
Sure, this won’t fix everything, and there are many other problems, including helping them to help themselves (which is something Comic Relief really do, they empower the needy), but it will be a huge leap in the right direction, and begin to stop people dying needlessly.
I certainly feel I need to do it, and I have.