In the year 2000, world leaders made eight pretty incredible promises, which are known as the Millennium Development Goals.

The first of these goals is to reduce by half the number of people living in extreme poverty by the year 2015. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1 USD per day. More than 1.5 billion people qualify, which is roughly 1 out of every 4 people alive. Two-thirds of these people don’t have access to clean water, and malnutrition is so bad that six million children die EVERY YEAR before their fifth birthday. That’s a holocaust-sized catastrophe every single year.

Where is this happening? Here’s a list of the twelve countries with more than half of their population living in extreme poverty:

1. Zambia 76%
2. Mali 72%
3. Nigeria 71%
4. Central African Rep. 67%
5. Madagascar 61%
6. Niger 61%
7. Gambia 59%
8. Tanzania 58%
9. Zimbabwe 56%
10. Burundi 55%
11. Haiti 54%
12. Rwanda 52%

All countries are in Africa, with one Caribbean exception. Haiti has nearly five million people living on less than a dollar day, and it’s a mere 600 miles from the United States.

My mom brought me to Haiti when I was eleven. I remember walking the streets of Port-Au-Prince and asking her about the children. She told me they were starving. “If they’re starving, then why are their bellies so big?”

Well, what can we do? I’d start by telling other people you know, since the biggest crime is the almost complete lack of knowledge in the States about such things. As for myself, I believe that lasting answers are all about education. By proving the Waveplace approach in the Virgin Islands, we’ll give strength to OLPC’s mission elsewhere, particularly Haiti.

One thing’s clear … if we’re not doing something, then we’re essentially standing idly by while children die … one child every three seconds.

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