Liveblogging: UN Youth Assembly Day 2 – Eradicting Extreme Poverty & Hunger

The second session begins with Elaine talking about how some people think that if you don’t save one issue, there’s no point. Every issue is important, though, and to me there is no point alienating an issue just to promote your own. So it’s great that there are people with different issues here to talk about why their issue is important and how us young people can help.

First up is Bernard Amadai, Founding President of Engineers Without Borders, with a presentation on how engineers and scientists can make a difference. Being neither, I’m not sure how I could relate, but Bernard’s personal experiences and passion is quite compelling. He’s currently sharing his tales of being in San Paolo, Belize, and seeing the state of infrastructure in the world. He got an epiphany there and soon Engineers Without Borders was born. My dad is an engineer by education and my sister was educated as a scientist, and while neither really works in these fields anymore, this may be interesting.

Bernard is REALLY passionate about human living conditions and poverty. “Poverty is NOT an academic exercise.” He showed us statistics and pictures, and asked if we have seen the eyes of a child who is dying. Talk as much as we want, but we should walk the talk. EWB was founded to bring compassionate (not “nerdy”) engineers and scientists of the new generation to be PEACEMAKERS – bringing the Hutsi and Tsutsi people in Rwanda together, when previously they were hating each other. Palestinians and Israelis working together side by side. They all ask – WHY DO WE HAVE TO HATE EACH OTHER?

This guy’s talk is the best one I’ve seen so far. His passion for his work really shows. He has been personally affected (through his work in San Paolo) and he is closely engaged with his work. And best of all, he did something about it. He shows us a water filter system designed by his students, promising 700 liters of clean water a day, which only costs $800 and only $50 a month for maintenance. It only cost $100 a YEAR to support African children to get to school – and they don’t have any reason t start a war anymore.

Why can we get 5000 Harry Potter books a minutes but can’t do the same for water? Why do we spend $31000 a SECOND on WEAPONS when children are dying in the world from preventable diseases?

As he says, don’t be part of the status quo. Be part of the solution!

Next up is Deborah Saidy, director of the World Food Program. She talks about hunger about how there’s more and more people affected by hunger. Two thirds are in rural areas and most of them are children. Out of the main major countries facing hunger, only China is on target to reach the MDGs – and even then we have to consider those suffering hunger in smaller places. Chile, Thailand, India, Tanzania, and Brazil are on track. Other world issues are affecting poverty too – for instance, climate change has an effect on rain and agriculture, which obviously affects hunger. Right now it’s mainly factual and statistic – not passionate and personal like Bernard’s presentation. Also, my parents are trying to talk to me on Skype by video, so it’s a bit distracting…

School feeding is a good way of solving a few issues at once – hunger, education, and empowering women (as girls get more choices in education). It is a good example of how, in solving different world issues, we shouldn’t be separating them – we should be engaging them and thinking creatively of how to combine them.

Next up is Porter McConnell from The ONE Campaign, who asks us all to turn ON our phones. Mine’s dead, so I can’t help, but you can already here all the start-up tones and ringtones going around the room. The ONE Campaign was cofounded by Bono (of US) and various NGOs related to rescue, poverty, and world issues. Members from across America (and random internationals like me) lobby the US government to help with various world issues, at a cost of just one percent or so of the US budget – so it doesn’t really take a lot to make a big impact! Their various priority bills relate to education, child survival, fair trade, hunger, and so on. There is also a major effort called the One Vote ’08, which involves goals that they hope the future American president will tackle once he or she is elected into office. There’s more information about the people behind ONE, and how they run.

Now we work out why they wanted the phone on. Text ONE to 62523 and you’re meant to get a response back! Ah, someone just did! You can also get involved through blogging, being a member, buying merchandise, volunteering, and much more. There are also different national movements for those outside America.

A flute performance from Holly closes this section.

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