Everyday, we open the newspaper, turn on the TV and listen to the radio only to hear the same discouraging news about the state of our economy. Plummeting stocks, bailouts, unemployment, and stimulus plans are constant reminders of the amounts of monetary wealth that people throughout our country have lost. However, while Americans stay focused on the news that affects them directly, the developing world is struggling daily to address basic needs like food, medicine, and water. While Americans toil and worry about the state of their personal incomes, the world's poor live with the stark reality of simply, hunger. They don't have enough money to buy basic food staples. In some countries, desperate mothers have told us they are giving their children warm water to briefly interrupt the rumbling hunger pangs.
Because of this global economic crisis, Compassion International has had to focus more and more on food distribution efforts in order to ensure Compassion children have their basic needs met. For most of the past 50 years, however, the world food production has outpaced world population growth, so Compassion's efforts aren't about creating the much needed food. It's about making sure the much needed food gets to our children who need it the most.
No child can learn on an empty stomach and no child should have to sit in a classroom, ravaged by guilt because they ate while their family is starving. That is the reality of our mission right now. Of the more than 6.7 billion people on the planet, one in seven will go to bed hungry each day. The children are particularly vulnerable as malnutrition impedes their developmental needs and threatens their very existence. For example, one child dies from hunger-related causes every seven seconds. This means that over 12,000 children die per day just due to hunger alone, and more than six million children die every year from malnutrition.
You already know people don't need to live and die like this. We need to do more, now.
To bring heightened awareness of this international emergency, March 11, 2009, has been designated by Compassion International as Global Food Crisis Day. On that day, Compassion International will be joining with Christian radio stations across the country to inform, inspire and encourage listeners to respond to this crisis.
Tune in March 11 to your local Christian radio station to find out more about what you can do to make a powerful impact in the lives of many around the world. The financial support and prayer of millions of Christians around the U.S. and the world working in harmony as the body of Christ to help relieve the suffering of "the least of these" will demonstrate, not by words, but by actions, the power of the Christian church.
Recently, journalists and business leaders are realizing what Compassion has understood for decades - that the church is perfectly situated to deliver resources to the poor in the developing world. It is, in fact, one of the most important missions of the church. The church does not work through governments that can be easily corrupted or allow goods to sit in warehouses due to bureaucratic red tape. The church gets the resources to the neediest in its community - because they are closest to them.
And most importantly, by working through the church, Compassion uses the money you so generously donate and stimulates the local economy by purchasing food, medicine, clothing and other goods from merchants within the community. That, my friends, is true economic stimulus at its most basic level!
Since 2005, food prices have risen a whopping 80 percent due to fluctuating fuel costs, rising food demand from populous nations like India and China, natural disasters destroying crop yields all over the world, including the United States, and a turbulent global economy. In just that last year alone, food prices for popular menu items like rice, wheat and beans have doubled in the last year.
These higher prices are forcing people who live on one dollar per day to spend as much as 80 percent of their budgets on food. Currently, 19% of the world's population, or more than 1.27 billion people, live on one dollar a day or less. If something isn't done soon to curb the effects of this crisis, an additional 100 million people could be forced into extreme poverty.
Many of you know that Compassion's core mission is not just to sustain children through poverty, but to release them from it. We do this by breaking the generational cycle that says, "I'm destined to be poor because my parents and grandparents were poor." We teach children how to break the cycles of poverty, and then with their newfound knowledge and motivation, we encourage them to break the poverty cycle in their homes and communities.
In response to the brutal effects of this economic crisis, we are looking ahead to enact programs in all our countries to mitigate problems stemming from any similar situation that may present itself in the future. We are providing classes on hydroponics, a system of farming in which plants are grown in mineral-rich solutions rather than soil, and guinea pig rearing. We are also developing meat processing plants in our projects and providing tools and resources needed for community gardens and farms. Programs like these all over the world are enabling more and more people to move from a food crisis to food security.
Please mark March 11th on your calendars and tune in to your favorite local Christian radio station to help impoverished communities throughout the world triumph over this devastating international crisis. Pray for God's leading for how you can best impact a world in crisis. You can do something to change the life of a child, a family, a community, a country - and in effect, your own.
Compassion International, one of the world's largest holistic child-development organizations, serves more than 1 million children in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean by working with more than 4,800 indigenous church partners. Founded in 1952, Compassion tackles global poverty one child at a time by meeting physical, social, economic and spiritual needs. Compassion has earned seven consecutive, four-star ratings from America's largest charity evaluator, Charity Navigator.