An Examination of the Meaning of ‘Relative’ Child Poverty

We’ve all been finding things a little tough recently. The global financial crisis has affected everyone’s lives, whether one lives in the United States or in the deserts of Sudan. But forgoing the weekly trip to the movies or cutting back on takeout food doesn’t compare to the challenges of child poverty and the daily struggle to survive most children in need face.

The definition of child poverty

Child poverty is defined as a lack of basic provisions such as food, education and access to health care. Child poverty isn’t just a problem in developing countries. The National Center for Children in Poverty estimates that nearly 15 million children in the United States live below the poverty line, without adequate health care, proper nutrition or a quality education. In developing countries, those problems are compounded by natural disasters such as the recent earthquake in Haiti, or the continuing civil war in Sudan. Such disasters and conflicts have devastating consequences in children’s lives, tearing apart communities and reducing the chances that these children will break the cycle of poverty they have been born into.

Child poverty has been described as a punishment for a crime one hasn’t committed. It seems absurd that a child of 5 should be punished in such an extreme manner just for being born into an impoverished community or neighborhood. But that is the reality facing some 650 million children around the world every day, according to UNICEF. One billion people worldwide survive on just a dollar or less a day.

A light of hope

But there is hope. There is always hope, even in the darkest times. Hope that is being brought about by organizations that uphold the Christian ideal of loving your neighbor, of providing food, shelter and protection to those who most need it and helping them rebuild their hopes and dreams. Christian charities around the world are bringing the haves and the have-nots together through programs such as child sponsorship. Through such programs, the children who are most desperate are given support and love, often from complete strangers on the other side of the world.

For those of us fortunate enough to have plenty of food on the table, donating a few dollars to sponsor a child or support Christian charities working with children in need around the world can make a big difference. Donating to such programs does more than just provide help, food or medicine – it provides a personal connection between all the people of the world. And through that connection we can bring a light of hope to those who toil in the darkness of child poverty.