by Akhila Padi
In our society, when we think of the process of “re-homing,” we imagine the trading of cars or material objects. However, over the past few years, “re-homing” has taken on a new level of intensity. It has gone from the swap of materials to the exchange of children. Children have been traded through the use of forums internationally without lawyers, adoption agencies, or papers. Simply press a button, type a description, and an adopted child becomes recycled from one family to another.
According to Nicholas Kristof’s article in The New York Times, an investigative study known as Reuters observed this issue. Many of the parents that “re-sell” their adopted children via Yahoo Forums, or other means of technology, are at “wit’s end,” because many of the children were emotionally troubled before being adopted and brought the trouble to the families that adopted them.
This form of fixing adoptions that don’t work out with little formality is especially vulnerable to the dangers present. Many of these children that are being “re-sold” to families via the Internet are being sold to pedophiles and other dangerous homes, which could be prevented if lawyers, papers, and agencies were involved. The majority of the children that were “re-homed” were internationally adopted children.
The only way to stop this issue is to make sure the children that are a part of adoptions that don’t work out find another home through an adoption agency. This issue of “re-selling” children over the Internet epitomizes the troubling child care system in America. Many children don’t receive enough protection, nutrition, education, or any other vital necessities. According to Kristof, if we have rules on recycling, we should also have rules regarding the placement of children into safe homes, and I completely agree. It’s time we make a change, and place the safety of our children at a higher priority.
Anyone who has ever watched the nightly news or read a newspaper can tell you that there are major issues across the world, from hunger to poverty to gender discrimination. At this point, I could go into detail about one of these things and tell you all about the great extent of it and how awful it is. However, you can find that rant in any number of other places - just Google your topic. Instead of confirming problems, I would rather present solutions.
There are any number of ways to help out with world issues, from donating to CAMFED to contributing to Doctors Without Borders. While these organizations are worthy and proven pursuits, I would like to offer a possibly better solution: microfinance. Microfinance is a method of lending money to borrowers - usually to purchase raw materials or equipment for a trade - who then pay you back after selling their merchandise/service. These loans can be made to anyone, meaning that you decide what person/cause you want your money to be towards. This opens up microfinance to any and all world issues. However, the best part is that you get your money back in the end, so you can re-donate it or take it back, therefore losing no money and allowing someone else in the world to fight poverty at the same time.
One of the most effective microfinance organizations is called Kiva. They have a 99.00% repay rate, and have lent $490,202,200 to date. Also, you can donate as little as $25, meaning that you can make a difference with much less money in this way than with other ways. You get to pick who you lend money to, you can see a picture of him or her, how much money they’re borrowing, what they’re using it for, and you receive updates on how much has been repaid. This brings a personal aspect to the process of helping end world issues, and allows you to see the direct results of your money. This is unlike donating to some other places, where it seems like you’re throwing money into a black hole, never to be seen again. This makes Kiva not only financially stable and trusted, but also satisfying and safe.
by Jed Gist
by Himabindu Vinnakota
Cell phones, computers, video game consoles. Many of us use these technologies on a daily basis, without a single thought as to where they come from or how they’re made. Today, I’ll let you in on something. All of the gadgets that we think separate us as a privileged society actually connect us back to one that is not so privileged.
Coltan, a mineral used to produce tantalum, a vital component of capacitors, is used in essentially all electronics. It comes from the Congo, a country rich with natural resources and exploited to the point of horrible poverty. The Congo is also in the midst of what seems to be perpetual civil war. The only thing that the two warring sides agree on is the desire to make money off of coltan. Locals are paid to extract the coltan, effectively ruining their home environment. They don’t even know why it is worth so much; they only know that it is. It is so plentiful that anyone with a shovel can go and dig it up. So why isn’t everyone rich off of it? They are paid little to nothing to pick, dig, and wade around up to their thighs in water, waiting for the coltan to sink to the bottom. But they also have no better way of making money for themselves and their families. Where most of that money goes (liquor and prostitution) is wholly another problem.
The point is, a resource that could and should be helping a country get back on its feet is doing the exact opposite of that. Because this phenomenon happens so frequently, there’s actually a name for these types of resources – conflict minerals. The issue mirrors that of “blood diamonds,” which were hugely problematic not that long ago. So, now we know that this is a problem. But we’re all the way over here. And we’re certainly not giving up our beloved technology. Is there really anything we can do about it?
If you’re willing to, then yes. You can research before you buy something to make sure that it is “conflict-free.” You can see where electronic companies rank in terms of conflict minerals here. You can send requests and petitions to companies, asking them to better monitor where their resources are coming from. Of course, as far as the consumer chain goes, extraction is only part of the problem. But it’s a very important part, a step that can effectively be bettered if we make a demand for it.
by Elisabeth Brown
A week or so ago, I was sitting in my desk during economics, listening to a lecture about decision making by my incredibly loud and opinionated teacher. We all know the type: red as a brick, loud as a train, and who just ends up pointing to inanimate objects and quivering students very, very frequently. This class, unsurprisingly enough, happens to be the very class in which the most unexpected and unrelated topics spring up and are discussed, instead of the actual economic curriculum.
I mean… I’m not complaining.
On this particular day, however, things took a turn for the worse. Through a series of questions, answers, and tangents that I will not bore you with, I was asked what Spring Valley Call to Action was all about. I answered that we generally strived to make people aware of worldwide issues. What issues? Well, poverty for one. Poverty? Okay class, how many of you have heard of poverty before?
As every hand went up, I slumped farther and farther into my seat. Of course everyone knows what poverty is. To the average American, someone who is poor is almost always a dirty person sitting on the sidewalk, holding an empty Styrofoam coffee cup, and asking strangers for spare change in the middle of Times Square. Poverty is for the less fortunate, for the people who chose to be unsuccessful. Poverty is restrictive; some are poor, others are not.
Through the duration of the class, my spirits drooped lower and lower – unfortunately for me, I had struck home on one of his favorite topics to talk about: people trying to change the world. I noticed that he really didn’t see a reason for our club, for the videos that we broadcasted to the schools, for the posters we made, or even for the message we were trying to send. That’s fine, in my opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own views and their own interests and pursuits. But, at the same time, it became apparent that my classmates were unconsciously beginning to slide over to his point of view. Because he was the one in charge, his views were obviously the correct ones.
I see this happen a lot, unfortunately. In school, in politics, in religious matters. Some people become too complacent in what they believe and allow others to swoop in and shape “their” ideas. They never really form an idea of what they themselves believe – jumping on the bandwagon is so much easier and hassle-free! Similarly, there are others who don’t even care about an issue enough to learn anything about it, save for the fact that it exists.
Based on my observations, I have come up with a simple statement: poverty has become a worldwide epidemic. No, not in the sense that you’re probably thinking of – if a homeless guy coughs on you, you won’t suddenly lose everything you own. Rather, I’m talking about poverty of the mind. I saw it invisibly spread through the words and air in my classroom, and I see it spreading slowly but surely in the minds of unsuspected victims. How is it spread, you ask? Well, through all the nay-sayers, the people who feel that the world revolves around me, so why should I care about some random kid in Africa. The ones in authority who broadcast their beliefs so loudly that you’re wrong if you don’t believe what they believe. There are really countless ways.
Now, for the antidote you’ve all been waiting for…
There’s the crux in the matter – there isn’t really a clear way to be immune to this epidemic. No one is impervious to the powers of persuasion, no matter how fabulous you are. However, there are ways to battle and bulk up against it. I encourage you to form your own opinions and beliefs from scratch. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know you have that essay to write, and practice tomorrow so how can you possibly fit in the task of finding yourself into a Tuesday afternoon? Well, hold on there Mr. Ambitious. Forming your own opinion on a largely disputed topic takes time, time, and more time. No one asked you to mow through article after article about the endangered Panda Bear at 3 o’clock in the morning. Just, keep your eyes open to the news: articles, videos, books. There’s a lot of information out there, and you just need to find it. I promise you, if you do this on your own, (without asking your mom what she thinks every 5 seconds) you will find that the reward was very worth the search – you can help stop this new poverty dead in its tracks.