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Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Wake up to Poverty
Last night I went to hear Nobel Peace Prize nominee and 2007 Kenyan presidential candidate Wahu Kaara speak. The occasion was an event called Wake up to Poverty and Kaara fearlessly called on us suburbanite Americans to wake up and care.

Kaara, the founding coordinator of the Kenya Debt Relief Network, is also the Ecumenical Coordinator for the Millennium Development Goals in Kenya at the All Africa Conference of Churches. With Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, Kaara launched the Global Call to Action against Poverty in Brazil in 2005, which has grown into the world's largest anti-poverty movement. Its organizations together represent more than 150 million people globally, with campaign actions in more than 80 countries.

What amazed me is how her role as a woman is helping change the world. She was one of the lucky women in Kenya who was blessed with an education. She had a comfortable life first as a teacher then as a school principal. Yet she saw the conditions of her people living under systems of oppression (often inflicted by countries like the US) and realized that she had to do more. She said she saw how in communities in Kenya the women formed networks of support to help care for each other and that inspired her to create networks to help end global poverty.

The groups she has founded have made tremendous impact already. And she is running for the Kenyan Presidency with strong goals and dreams (in many ways aiming at nothing less than ending poverty and helping form a United States of Africa). Her call to us was to wake up to poverty and see the need for aid without conditions, just trade, and debt relief. She wasn’t afraid to touch issues that American Christians usually avoid – ones that point out the sinfulness of certain policies, the greed of corporations, and the pain our consumeristic ways causes to other countries and the environment. This wasn’t some college hippie liberal ranting about the government, this was an educated leader who has lived through and amidst the pain asking us to open our eyes, be educated, and work for change.

Most encouraging was that even amidst the vastness of the problems (poverty, debt, disease), Kaara had hope. She no longer wants Africa to be seen as a desperate, hopeless continent, but as a living continent. She has hope and has strategies and plans for making it happen. Some of that involves people in America pressuring our representatives to set the standard for the world in participating in the Jubilee of debt relief and aid.

In all it was a fascinating evening listening to a women who has looked at a problem and is stepping up to fix it. She is a modern hero and role model for women.

There should be a podcast of her talk up soon. I’ll add the link when it’s up for whoever wants to hear her speech.


posted by Julie at 3:13 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 8/03/2006 08:55:00 AM, Blogger Melanie@Abri

    SHe sounds inspiring. It's great that Africans are getting their own message across to the western world finally. I think we could all really do with looking to Africa and Asia for our role models.

    Since we are on the topic of highlighting poverty, I'd like to ask for your prayers. I've been commissioned to write three dramatic pieces for a charity event in September to support Christian Aid, a UK/Ireland charity working with some of the world's most impoverished communities. I need three actors for my piece who come from the places I am writing about. Now, if you know anything about Ireland, you will know that although we now have a vibrant immigrant community, non national actors are kind of thin o n the ground! So here's what I need (with faith that God will provide): an African, a Bangladeshi and a Palestinian actor/actress! Get prayin' and I'll let you know how I get on!

  • At 8/03/2006 03:47:00 PM, Blogger Lovelyisthevoice

    Good evening, Melanie & Friends!

    “… asking us to open our eyes, be educated, and work for change.”

    What is it to work for change? What is it not to work for change? We can be working for change all the changing time and still not be able to change the times. How about changing the changing?

    In other words, going right back into the past, change it and come forward all anew. Would that work? I believe it would.

    Recently, I returned home here to Éire from beautiful Lebanon having attended an International Conference on the life and works of poet, philosopher, and artist Kahlil Gibran.

    My heart is breaking with what I am watching on the News … What is the root cause of what is happening right now even as I write; what is the ancient source of this present devastation?

    What once upon a time of times set this destruction-change in motion?

    What if we could somehow go back and disengage it before it ever had a chance to take shape? What if we could set a ‘construction-change’ in motion?

    I’m over the waves at Sea2mist ...


    Richard of eTidings

  • At 8/04/2006 12:07:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

    ummm... what?

  • At 8/04/2006 07:32:00 PM, Blogger From the Margins

    I've been thinking about your comment that she wasn't afraid to touch 'issues that American Christians usually avoid.'
    I've asked myself: Why wasn't she afraid? Because she's not an American? Because she's not dependent on her audience for 'her salary?' Because she's a "she?" All of the above?? Because her intense compassion over-rode her fear?
    In general, IF the tables were turned, would we-women be more or less afraid to address some of the unconfortable, unjust, difficult and often self-condemning issues that have been taboo in our Amer. Christian churches?? IF the tables were turned, what issues would female leaders rush to address first?
    I was amused that you used the phrase 'not afraid to TOUCH ISSUES ...' reminded me of a another woman not afraid to reach out and touch because of (an) issue! :-) "Nice Touch!"

    Dear Melanie - You have my prayer for just the right actors/actresses! Sherri


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