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28 October 2014
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Make Poverty History
Make Poverty History

Make Poverty History

By Adam Yosef and Richard Keddie, site users
Adam and Richard are hoping the people of Birmingham will get behind the campaign to end third world debt, and make poverty history.


Make Poverty History
Make Poverty History

MakePovertyHistory has been building momentum for quite some time now. It is part of an international effort to call on world leaders to end poverty by dropping third world debt.

The campaign in the UK is a coalition of charities, trades unions, campaigning groups, faith communities and high profile individuals who are uniting to tackle global poverty in 2005.

Demands include tackling unfair global trade rules, cancelling the debts of the poorest countries and increasing the quality and amount of aid given to developing countries.

Make Poverty History
Make Poverty History

The coalition consists largely of charities and community projects but has over a hundred affiliated organisations and unions with political, religious, social and peace movements including Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, the Salvation Army, the Terrence Higgins Trust, Save the Children and the Muslim Association of Britain to name just a tiny few of those involved.  There are a lot more affiliates representing nearly every charity, community or project from across the world.

The Make Poverty History campaign was formally launched in Trafalgar Square and headlined by Nelson Mandela with appearances made by other guests including Birmingham's very own Jamelia. 

Make Poverty History
Make Poverty History

The campaign is planning a large peaceful protest to take place in Edinburgh during the G8 summit which is expected to attract over a million people.  Controversially, the Stop the War Coalition, which has organised 11 of the UK's largest demonstrations since 9/11, has not been allowed to affiliate to the campaign but are passionately supporting it and will be joining the official MPH protest, having a separate protest the following day and conducting a Naming the Dead ceremony.

At a recent World Development Movement conference at Aston University, titled 'Whose Rules Rule? African Answers', Seminar groups and workshops were held on More and better aid, Drop the debt, Trade Justice, Historical and contemporary slavery and the Representation of Africa in Western media. The issue of Africa's debt was key to most of the discussions and even a Dr. Who 'Dalek' was brought in to help 'exterminate' world poverty.

Exterminate debt
Exterminate debt

The World Development Movement used a host of Daleks during the recent meeting of the G7 Finance Ministers.  The publicity stunt was a call on the Ministers to 'Exterminate Debt, not the poor'.  The ministers agreed to cancel the debt but the World Bank and IMF will also cancel the same amount in funds and grants to African nations.  A spokesperson for the movement said: "The G7 finance ministers' decision to cancel the debt owed by 18 heavily indebted poor countries to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank is a very good first step and a fantastic vindication of WDM activists for their decision to stick to their guns on this issue after Jubilee 2000 ended. However, it does not yet go far enough. About 40 more poor countries need full debt cancellation to meet the Millennium Development Goals."

Adam campaigning
Adam campaigning

In the MakePovertyHistory campaign that is being co-ordinated as part of an international campaign to end Third World debt, people across the country are being asked to help by supporting the call of national charities, celebrities, politicians and well known personalities to cancel debt, make trade fair and increase aid to Africa.  People can give money, buy the book, try and get tickets for Live8 or buy a white wrist band but what really counts and is needed for this campaign is support.  If everyone just signed a petition supporting the campaign or attended the rally in Edinburgh - that would be a huge contribution to one of the biggest movements of the decade. If that's all that a person can do, then they should do it.  Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Wristband
Wristband

I must have stood with comrades for ages on the streets of Birmingham's city centre asking, and soon begging, passers-by to sign the petition.  I reminded them that they could help end world poverty by simply signing a petition, a two-second task.  Some signed happily, others ran.  They ran like the Bullring was about to disappear.  Some argued that they would not sign in case they had to pay something.  Upon being corrected, they still refused to sign.  I mean, why would anybody NOT want to end world poverty? Is it the selfishness of assuming Africa is miles away, full of AIDS, something seen on the news, a continent run by despots and therefore nothing to do with the British population?

Have people been convinced by far-right figures into believing Africa's problems are their own, caused by themselves and the rest of the world is exonerated of any responsibility? If the masses can't even offer their signature - their voice, because they fear the doors of high street stores will slam shut on them, then what chance is there of any money making its way to the continent in despair? I nearly lost my cool that day as I became extremely frustrated with the lack of compassion being projected by the public.  I came close to getting out the old cliche brush and painting everyone the same but then there was hope.  There were people, although not in droves, who came aside to sign the petition.  People out there really do want to help but don't know how to go about it.  Well, now they can by joining this campaign.  Hopefully, you will join the millions of others who are going to spend that historic day in Edinburgh on July 2, putting pressure on the world's most powerful men to make poverty history.

Pook the pug
Pook the pug

MakePovertyHistory is endorsed and supported by celebrities and politicians with white bands appearing on wrists all around the country.  The bands, worn by the likes of Tony Blair, Jamelia, Nelson Mandela, Alan Rickman, Kate Moss, Bob Geldof, U2's Bono and Emma Thompson, are a symbol of support for the campaign and raise money for the cause.

They are available for £1 each from Oxfam, The Body Shop, Co-Op stores, Save the Children Fund shops, HMV stores and online via the MPH website.  The bands are available in two forms, silicone or woven cotton and are in English and Welsh.  There are other accessories too such as bags and T-shirts so individuals can stylishly declare their support for the movement.  You can put the bands in your hair, lace your shoes, on your pets, absolutely anywhere!

The mass demonstration at the G8 will take place on 6 July with people travelling from all over the UK.  Transport is being organised by local charities, places of worship, the Stop the War Coalition, Globalise Resistance, and by community groups.

In and from Birmingham, the following transport is available:

Saturday 2 July - MakePovertyHistory Demonstration, Edinburgh

Oxfam: Train from Birmingham, £58
Departs Friday morning - returns Sunday morning
To book a seat, please visit: www.makepovertyhistory.org

Christian Aid: Coach, £29
Departs from Carrs Lane Church Centre at 5am Saturday
Returns late that night after leaving Edinburgh at 6pm
To book, please contact Chrisitan Aid on: 0121 200 2283

Wednesday 6 July - STWC Demonstration, Gleneagles

Respect: Minibus, £23
Departs from carrs Lane Church Centre at 5am
Returns late that night after leaving Edinburgh at 6pm
To book, please contact Helen Salmon on: 07905 212 297

last updated: 22/06/05
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