Speaking Out

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This week, several students in Grades 6 & 7 attended a speech competition through the Independent Schools Association of BC. The Grade 6 students shared their perspectives on “The Most Important Issue Facing Today’s World” and the Grade 7 students spoke about “Making a Difference in Society.” SMUS is also hosting a Grade 8 Speech Competition for Vancouver Island independent schools on Monday, April 29. Students there will speak to “An Important Environmental Issue in the World Today”.

The Most Important Issue Facing Today’s World: Poverty
by Georgia, Grade 6, honourable mention recipient

Who are we? We are privileged people who have houses, families, food, education and water as well as many other great opportunities.

We have privileges, but why are there so many people living in poverty? Many people cannot get out of the poverty cycle. The cycle where poor health and little or no education leads to lack of work and little money (and so the cycle begins again). These people struggle to meet their basic needs, the things that we take for granted and don’t think twice about. Our four basic needs: food, water, shelter and clothing.

How does poverty happen? There are three main causes of poverty. One is history (for example, if your family has been poor for a long time what are the chances of you not being poor? Not very good). The second cause is poor resource management – if the government isn’t using the resources properly then you won’t get those resources, some of which are necessary for survival (crops, water, etc.) The last reason is forces of nature (eg. natural disasters like a tornado or flood or drought). If things like this happen, then people’s crops or houses can be destroyed and that will cause poverty.

How do we try to fix it? Education is one of the main ways to break the poverty cycle. Education means choice, awareness and hope. By going to school you learn things that will help you get a better job and earn money and break the poverty cycle. APU, Atsikana Pa Ulendo, a girls school in Malawi, is an example of a place where people are trying to break the poverty cycle. When these girls go to school and are educated they then have choices. Their choice is not limited to an early marriage and children at far too young an age. They become aware that there are things they can do to avoid a life in poverty and they gain hope that one day they can achieve great things – that they won’t live in poverty but can have a long healthy life.

How can we get education to all people living in poverty? One of the main ways is to create awareness about the issue to people who are not living in this unfortunate situation. Even people like us can do things. If people know about this issue maybe they will try and take action. For example, in an article written by Rob Novit about a “hunger banquet” for teens, Bailey Branham states “We hope this event will help them notice what’s going on in the world right now. They can see this is an opportunity to reach out and help people.” This quote is sending the message that if we teach children while they are young about poverty then maybe they will try to take action when they are older or they will try to educate their generation about the issue.

Poverty is not something that people ask for, it is something that you are born with right from the start. Poverty is occurring not only in other developing countries of the world but also in Canada. We cannot shield our eyes from this serious problem that exists in the world. We need to step in and do something to resolve it.

In my opinion, poverty is one of the biggest issues facing the world right now, and I hope that my generation will be the one to help end put an end to it.

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