Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day! Poverty

Want to make a difference to somebody today? Want to fight poverty? Look at the Kiva loans site here There are lots of other ways to make a difference. Some folks in our law library group participated in the mass read-to-kids and donate-a-book project with Jumpstart and the book Corduroy. You could donate a book and/or read a copy of the book to a child. Each child who attended received a copy, and many of these children had never had a book before. Of course, each AALL, the SR-SIS (Social Responsibilities Special Interest Section) co-ordinates a book donation project and often a library and school assistance project for the local school system. In Philadelphia, we helped clean a library and shelve books, in St. Louis and New Orleans, we cleaned and repaired schools and libraries. And always, donating books, either by wish lists from the school librarians or just donating money.

You can check your local law library organization here (if it's a chapter of AALL) to see if it has any community service projects. If it doesn't why not set up a committee to start some? I happen to belong to a fairly active group, LLNE and you can look here to see a list of recent service projects.

But non-AALL law library groups may have projects as well. For instance, the Association of Boston Law Libraries (ABLL) is an independent group in my area. It has an annual holiday project to donate money and gifts from a list for a local charity, Bridge Over Troubled Waters. This is a group that supports teens and young adults who are runaways, trying to live on the street. They provide a shelter, medical care, an opportunity to return to school or study for a GED degree, child care if needed, and emotional support. For many of the young people in this group, it is an opportunity to escape a family of violence or sexual abuse and a continuing nightmare as they fall into the clutches of pimps who exploit them here in Boston.

There are a lot of faces of poverty. How you define it depends on where you live. I understand that what looks like poverty to me here in Boston in may look pretty cushy to people elsewhere in the world. But you define your situation by your relative status compared to the people around you. You also feel the pain of poverty as a lack of power, of choices, of respect. And that pain hurts whether you define poverty by urban or rural US standards or urban Chandahar, Bangladesh or rural Soma in Gambia.

I always liked that little motto from the 70's "Bloom where you're planted." Fight poverty where you live.

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