August 28, 2008

Obama's got my vote!

America's had enough. And so have I.

Barack has finally articulated his plan for change to America. Tonight, he gave us a blueprint for what this change will look like. Now more than before, I feel connected to him. I feel like he spoke to me and my troubles and the troubles of those I know. An inspirational speaker indeed!

So in case you didn't get a chance to hear Barack Obama's speech tonight, check out this clip from MSNBC. You can also read his speech here,

Are you ready for change? Post your comments and tell us how you're going to make change happen. We're waiting...

This blog was written by Chanelle N. Carver, founder and Executive Director of Literacy 'n' Poverty Project. Please leave your comments and feel free to email Chanelle at with any questions!

August 24, 2008

Millennium Development: At A Glance

The Millennium Development Goals are eight broad yet inspired benchmarks, which will guide us, as concerned international citizens, down the path toward a world of peace and prosperity. Now, in the 21st century, the future never looked so bright.

Well, not exactly.

In the year 2000 at the Millennium Summit in London, UN member states adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration. The goals conveyed in that declaration provide a framework for international development, targeting eight specific benchmarks. While the degree of that specificity has come under much scrutiny since 2000, the MDGs also mark an unprecedented level of international cooperation to eradicate poverty. Expressly, the UN plans for the world to, by the year 2015:

1.) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2.) Achieve universal primary education
3.) Promote gender equality and empower women
4.) Reduce child mortality
5.) Improve maternal health
6.) Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria, and other diseases
7.) Ensure environmental sustainability
8.) Develop a global partnership for development

Critics of the MDGs argue that the vague language undermines the effectiveness of these goals. Think about what it would take to actually eradicate poverty within the next six years. Further, it is hard to quantify the goals create a clear-cut method for achieving them or for measuring progress. How exactly does one define “extreme” poverty?

However, the MDGs are more specific than the general statements above convey. Also, the adoption of the Millennium Declaration brings international development into a new, more central spotlight. The eight MDGs provide governments with a more tangible set of objectives. Some progress is certainly better than none.

Over the course of the next month, we’ll examine the eight MDGs in detail, and highlight initiatives designed to help achieve them. All over the world, international organizations and local volunteers are working from the ground up, creating development programs to make these goals a reality. Regardless of loopholes or gray areas in the document itself, their work and its value should not be marginalized.

At the end of September, once again UN member states will meet for the Millennium Summit in New York to evaluate progress toward achieving these ends. However, let’s not leave it all up to them. Over the course of the next month, let’s examine the details together, and decide just how workable all of this idealism is.

For more information about the Millennium Development Goals, please visit

This post was written by Allison Tritt, a former high school English teacher, volunteer for Oxfam Japan and volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. She blogs to foster global awareness and remind others that there is always a way to get involved. Please leave your comments or email Allison at with your questions.

August 9, 2008

The G8 and People’s Summit

From July 7th to the 9th, government officials from the United States, Canada, France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Japan convened in Hokkaido, Japan for their yearly meeting at which they evaluate numerous world crises and decide which disasters are most worthy of their largesse. Despite all of the hype, this great meeting of the minds neglected to deliver much in the way of long-lasting solutions and instead turned into a display of impeccable skill in the arts of avoidance and escapism.

However, the Big Eight and their invited guests were not the only voices heard during those hot July days. Not far from the G8 in Toyako, over 220 Japanese NGOs came together for the People’s Summit in Sapporo and Rusutsu, the location of the media center. They convened to debate and make policy recommendations uninfluenced by those governmental perspectives molded by vested economic and strategic interests.

Thanks to media coverage of the People’s Summit, NGOs were able to put extensive pressure on the men and women in Toyako. Moreover, the organization of a separate Summit offered legitimacy that a crowd of protesters simply couldn’t convey, even from the front page of the newspaper.

Of course, NGO policy recommendations weren’t exactly eagerly adopted into legislation. However, what the People’s Summit did do was offer an alternative viewpoint to anyone following Summit events. For example, instead of leaders conveniently omitting a pledge made in 2005 of $50 billion in additional aid by the year 2010, a debate into the early morning hours, catalyzed in part by a barrage of questions posed by NGO media representatives, resulted in them putting the figures back into the budget.

Just think what kind of impact meetings like the People’s Summit could have if they were as well publicized as the G8 itself. If a huge meeting of passion and activism is held alongside a huge meeting of power, leaders will know that we are watching and only then might they start delivering.

Volunteers are an integral part to any campaign, local, domestic, or international. Visit, or do an internet search for international volunteer opportunities. A lot of campaigning can be done in your own neighborhood, or even from the comfort of your own home. Write a letter, sign a petition, or call a friend. Say, “The world is changing. Let’s get in on this.”

For more information about the People’s Summit 2008 and the NGO Forum go to

This post was written by Allison Tritt, a former high school English teacher, volunteer for Oxfam Japan and blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. She blogs to foster global awareness and remind others that there is always a way to get involved. Please leave your comments or email Allison at with any questions!