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Home - Sikh Aid - Make Poverty History

Make Poverty History

Click on the logos on the right to Download the Project Leaflet and Donation Form

Forthcoming Events

Make Poverty History's Arts in Action Fundraiser

 


What is Rescue a Family?

Rescue a Family is your chance to help make poverty history in Panjab. Sponsor a poor and needy family and help them survive and have a brighter future.

You will be providing relief to destitute families after the death of their main breadwinner(s) and enable them to continue to live in their own home environment. You provide money for basic necessities such as food, education and health care and provide resources they need to earn an extra income.

Without your help, the trauma the families face after the death of their loved ones is multiplied because the family members are at severe risk of being sent to orphanages and old-age homes. Orphanages often do not accept boys and girls at the same institution so brothers and sisters are separated, and the remaining family members find it difficult to keep in contact. Many more family members are left destitute and remaining male members become high suicide risks.

But by giving a monthly or a one-off donation, you can help these families

For more information, or if you want to help, please contact rescueafamily@unitedsikhs.org or contact@unitedsikhs.org

CASE 1: Surjit, Baljit and Suneet Kaur

15 year old Surjit was left caring for her younger sisters, Baljit and Suneet when their father died and their mother abandoned them shortly after. They live in a village in Sangrur, one of the poorest districts in Panjab, North-West India. The lack of finances meant the girls had to leave school so that they could earn a living.

Left:
Surjit Kaur
(15 years old),
Sunit Kaur
(14 years old),
Baljit Kaur
(13 years old)
“Rescue a Family” found a donor to “adopt” the girls by providing financial donations so that the girls can continue with their education and have enough money for their basic welfare.

CASE 2: SUKHPAL KAUR AND HER CHILDREN

Sukhpal Kaur (below) earns 10 rupees for every Kilo of milk her lone cow produces. She is struggling to support herself and her children. Her husband committed suicide in November 2005 due to desperation at his financial situation – a victim of the phenomenon of ‘rural suicides’ that is spreading across the poor districts of Panjab.

Left: Sukhpal Kaur (centre) holding a picture of her recently deceased husband. She is stood with her daughter Rani Kaur (left) and son Gurbinder Singh (right).

Since then, Sukhpal Kaur has been left with her two children and 250,000 Rupees of debt to a loan shark – more than she will ever be able to repay. She is yet another victim of Panjab’s Green Revolution. Unfortunately, Sukhpal’s is not a rare case, but you can help!

The Aim:  

  • Help provide financial relief for rural families whose main breadwinner(s) have committed suicide
  • Encourage organic farming and traditional arts as forms of extra income
  • Raise global awaren ess of poverty issues in Panjab
  • S upport innovative ways of researching and tackling poverty and development in the state 

Why?  

Punjab is no longer the prosperous state it once was. Poverty is rife in districts such as Bathinda, Mansa and Sangrur, and the lack of international help for the people in these areas means the problems are simply worsening.

When you go to India , where do you go? Chances are you visit many of the wonderful sights of the country in its 35 states and union territories. If you do go to Punjab , you may go to Amritsar , Jalandhar, Ludhiana , Chandigarh or some of the other districts from where Non-Resident Indians tend to have migrated. And although you see poverty in these districts, they are incomparable to the poverty faced by citizens of districts such as Sangrur.  

“According to the former chief minister of Punjab , [Punjabi farmer’s] average daily earning is Rs 39 as against the minimum wage of Rs 69. Given the current level of input costs, crop prices, and credit conditions, these farmers are doomed to a hand-to-mouth existence at best. It is time to rethink what constitutes poverty and the poverty line”. Inderjit Singh Jaijee, Convenor, Movement Against State Repression

The dire need of the farmers and the increasing debts they have are leading to an unprecedented and worrying number of suicides by family breadwinners. Farmer suicides are occurring in particular in the Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur, Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts of Panjab – the poorest areas in the state. The suicides occur because the farmers feel completely destitute.

“Most farmers have committed suicide on the day they have sold the last acre because they realise there is no more steady income, and they can no longer support their families”. Aman Sidhu,

This is how they get into their cycle of debt:

  • They borrow money from loan sharks to buy pesticides. They cannot borrow money from banks because land is not accepted as
  • The pesticide-saturated land, is stripped of nutrients and produces successively lower yields.
  • Farmers are then forced to sell their crops for less than it costs them to produce, meaning the farmers cannot repay the exorbitant sums the loan sharks ask for.
  • Being trapped in this cycle drives many farmers to take their life.

Contents


Bulletin

UNITED SIKHS Calls on Sikhs to Join the "Make Poverty History" Campaign
June 29, 2005
UNITED SIKHS, the only Sikh partner of the Make Poverty History (MPH) coalition, is calling on Sikhs to join an estimated 1 million supporters for the Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh on 2nd July 2005. …

Why "Make Poverty History"?

  • Because poverty kills 50,000 people every day (30,000 of whom are children)
  • Because over one billion people are living on less than a dollar a day
  • Because 50% of the world live on less than $2 a day.
  • Because 852 million people across the world are hungry
  • Because 130 million children worldwide do not receive an education
  • Because 758 million adults worldwide are illiterate
  • Because over 2 million people a year die because they cannot afford and do not have access to clean drinking water

Join the UNITED SIKHS Make Poverty History Team

Please Be Involved, Click here and Join UNITED SIKHS


What is the G8?

The G8 is also know as the "Group of Eight" and refers to Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US. It was previously known as the G7 before Russia joined the group in 2002.

The G8 is an incredibly powerful coalition that deals with numerous types of world affairs, and the decisions the G8 make can be very powerful. The group meets annually to discuss and tackle issues including health, development, environment, terrorism, financial and other such concerns.

The non-governmental organisation (NGO) world uses the annual summit as a place to promote concerns about world issues, and to persuade the G8 to use their influence to make the world a better place for all. Hence in 2005, the meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland is being used to encourage the G8 to use their powers to make poverty history - something they would effortlessly be able to do.


Make Poverty History: About The Campaign

The "Make Poverty History" campaign aims to tackle to root causes of poverty by changing international policies. The campaign is made up of organisations and individuals who are passionate about ending the misery which poverty inflicts on the poor people of the world. The three crucial and intrinsically linked areas of the campaign are:

Trade Justice

Poor people are not hopeless victims but rather they are individuals with much knowledge and many skills and talents. They are an asset that is currently being under-utilised because the trading system currently in place favours those with money and power.

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have established policies aimed at liberalising economies, which do not always benefit poor countries. They often force poor countries to trade with rich countries, at the expense of the poor countries' own economies. They also ban poor countries from helping their farmers, so poor countries are forced to import subsidised products while neglecting their own commodities.

Some large and powerful companies are also guilty of using up the natural resources of poor countries, and problems such as illegal logging are taking their toll on the environment. Companies often use resources of poor countries because the lack of regulation and accountability in international trade means they will rarely be held accountable for their social and environmental impact.

What is being demanded? (Demands taken from www.makepovertyhistory.org)

  • Fight for rules that ensure governments, particularly in poor countries, can choose the best solutions to end poverty and protect the environment. These will not always be free trade policies.
  • End export subsidies that damage the livelihoods of poor rural communities around the world.
  • Make laws that stop big business profiting at the expense of people and the environment

Drop the Debt

For every $1 received in grant aid, low-income countries pay $2.30 in debt service (see jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk). This means countless people around the world are suffering due to unpayable and outrageous debts, often amassed by previous governments. For example, the current government of South Africa is repaying $22 billion in loans that were given to the Apartheid regime (see jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk). But these unpayable debts are not just an African problem and have also led to the suffering of people living in other regions of the world.

Some governments spend more money on debt repayments than they do on essential areas such as education and health. This has dire consequences, meaning some countries cannot afford to provide their citizens with necessary utilities such as clean water, leading to high rates of cholera, dysentery and other such life-threatening illnesses. The UN estimates 7 million children die unnecessarily each year, from diseases that can be cured and from unclean water that could be made safe.

Diverting money away from education and towards paying off the interest on debts has also contributed to a lack of spending on education, making it both unaffordable and widely inaccessible, thereby creating a significantly illiterate future generation.

What is being demanded? (Demands taken from MPH Website)

  • The unpayable debts of the world's poorest countries should be cancelled in full, by fair and transparent means

More and Better Aid

More aid is needed now by poor countries to prevent the 50,000 deaths that occur daily due to poverty, and to better the lives of their citizens.

The countries and institutions that give aid should also stop deciding how it should be spent. Often conditions are attached to the aid that is given, which require poor countries to make economic sacrifices, privatise public utilities or decrease spending in crucial areas. These conditions mean aid is frequently not being spent where it is needed.

Aid is a crucial factor in improving peoples' access to education and health care. These two sectors are necessary in eradicating poverty. An educated population is more likely to understand how to prevent diseases such as AIDS, and will help make educated economic, social and political decisions for their country. A healthy population will help create and maintain the country by providing a strong workforce. 8 million lives could be saved every year if minimal healthcare was available in developing countries (MPH Website).

Poor countries and people are aware of where and how aid needs to be spent, and how to reduce poverty. They should be given the opportunity to follow their own paths out of poverty, thus helping prevent misspending of money on unneeded or misguided projects - something that has been widespread in the past.

In 1970, the UK promised to spend 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) on international development, but to date this has not occurred. Such promises made by the UK and other countries throughout the world, now need to be fulfilled.

What is being demanded? (Demands taken from MPH Website)

  • Donors must now deliver at least $50 billion more in aid and set a binding timetable for spending 0.7% of national income on aid.
  • Aid must be made to work more effectively for poor people.

Events

Saturday 2nd July
A demonstration is taking place in Edinburgh to demand trade justice, debt cancellation and more and better aid.

The rally starts at 11am at The Meadows, and supporters are encouraged to wear white.

By mid afternoon, supporters will have circled Edinburgh city centre and a white circle will be visible (due to supporter's clothing). The white band is now synonymous with the Make Poverty History campaign, and will encourage the G8 to enforce better policies to help make poverty history.

There will be a festival at The Meadows all afternoon featuring live music, food and drink, fair trade stalls and activities for children.

For a map of the march route, please see: www.makepovertyhistory.org/images/jpegs/map.gif

For more information about the demonstration in Edinburgh, please see: www.makepovertyhistory.org/edinburgh/index.shtml

If you live outside the UK, please check www.whiteband.org for more information about the international campaign, as well as country-specific events.


Links


UNITED SIKHS Bulletins