Panel: World poverty could be ended by 2100

Brian Sumers

The world can eliminate global poverty by the end of the century, CARE USA President Peter Bell told a group of 150 students and community members Monday night.

“What is lacking (to end poverty) is the organization and the political mandate,” said Bell, the leader of a worldwide group that works to eradicate poverty and improve global living standards. Bell said his organization will continue to work to achieve that political mandate.

Bell’s remarks came as part of a panel discussion sponsored by the Center for International and Comparative Studies. The discussion, which took place at the Technological Institute, also featured CARE administrators from Afghanistan, southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and India.

Panelists responded to questions posed by Jerome McDonnell, the host of “Worldview,” a political affairs program on WBEZ Chicago radio.

While all the panelists said CARE’s programs had helped poverty-stricken people in their countries, they also said that more must be done to improve living conditions.

CARE’s country director for Afghanistan, Paul Barker, said his office needs more money to continue to help Afghanistan’s citizens rebuild their country. He said he worries the United States will not continue to contribute enough money to help with the relief effort.

“It will be like pulling teeth in the future to get the money we need,” he said.

While CARE attempts to help rebuild Afghanistan, administrators in Africa are working to control the spread of the HIV virus through education and condom distribution.

Mamokete Hlaele, program officer of CARE Lesotho, a small country in southern Africa, asked students to consider how the AIDS epidemic is hurting young people in Africa.

“HIV is affecting your peers in Lesotho, Africa,” she said.

Although AIDS threatens the stability of Lesotho, Rafael Callejas, regional director for CARE Latin America and Caribbean, said a lack of water threatens the people of his region.

“Women and children sometimes invest two to three hours for just one bucket of drinking water,” he said.

In India, CARE has dedicated itself recently to rebuilding towns destroyed by a 2001 earthquake, said Assistant Country Director V.S. Gurumani.

Although few students attended the speech, NU President Henry Bienen said students should be interested in the mission of CARE.

“We have a lot of students who are very motivated and CARE is one of the best organizations to contribute to,” said Bienen, who introduced his friend and colleague Bell to the audience. “It is a very worthy organization.”

Weinberg sophomore Jane Andrews said she was not familiar with CARE’s mission before she attended the discussion, but said she enjoyed learning about the program.

“It’s a compelling subject,” she said. “It seems rather optimistic or unachievable, but it’s a noble goal.”

Still, others at the discussion said they believed the organization’s goal of ending poverty by the end of the century is possible.

“If we don’t end ourselves first, it can be done and it should be done,” said Wanda Romanas, a 49-year-old Chicago real estate agent.