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Why young people should help fight poverty

26 September 2016

Why young people should help fight poverty

by George Rosenfeld, age 17, a sixth former at City of London School, London, England

This year, my school has chosen to raise money for Farm Africa, an international development charity that helps farmers in eastern Africa grow their own way out of poverty.

I believe that as young people in the West we have a duty to help people in other parts of the world. My generation is faced with both responsibility and opportunity. We are the first generation that can end extreme poverty and the last that can end climate change. Of course, no individual can solve these huge problems, but if everyone carries out their role as global citizens, we will be well on our way. As Edmund Burke once said: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”

As Chairman of the Charity Committee at City of London School, I was keen to support Farm Africa because I have an affinity with international development charities, and was therefore delighted when the school voted overwhelmingly for it.

I share the philosophy of the Australian ethicist Peter Singer that we have a duty to help others and that we can do so at a relatively small cost to ourselves. If you make a donation of, say, £15 [$19] – that’s the difference between getting the subway or a taxi somewhere – it doesn’t impact our own lives hugely. But that money could buy something like a bag of drought-tolerant seeds that would make a huge difference to a family living in difficult circumstances in Africa. With Farm Africa, our money can go a long way in marginalised communities – just £350 [$450] can help to lift a family out of poverty.

Another reason that this is so worthwhile is that there are known solutions to poverty – you don’t need to spend millions on research. It’s about putting these solutions into action. I hope that we will have been able to support many farmers and their families to sustain themselves in the future, and that we can contribute towards achieving the second Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating global hunger by 2030.

I’m delighted that we’re raising funds for Farm Africa at school. I am proud to go to a school which looks beyond its doorstep and strives to help those further away who need our help most. It’s vital that charity and global issues are emphasised in school, as our education system often fails to address these topics. Indeed, we are taught that water is H2O before learning that over 600 million people don’t have access to it. We are well-versed in Shakespeare before learning that over 700 million people can’t read. With my school’s annual charity appeal, it is impossible to ignore these key issues and therefore the chances of solving them increase tremendously.

I believe that young people should support international development charities like Farm Africa because of the immediate effect it will have in changing people’s lives. At City of London School, we aimed to raise at least £50,000 [$65,000] this year and after the success of events like our 48-hour rowathon, Sponsored Walk, Jazz Concert, Scottish Ceilidh, Sponsored Fast and Mufti Days, we hope to be unveiling a check in excess of that today!