The Congregations of Saint Joseph have worked to eradicate poverty since their founding in Le Puy in 1650. Poverty, the lack of adequate resources to be able to provide the basic necessities of food, water, clothing, housing, medical care, and education, has many causes and many consequences. Statistics show that half of the world’s children live in poverty, meaning they suffer from hunger, malnutrition, inadequate medical care and lack of education. Two million children a year die of preventable diseases like diarrhea or pneumonia because their families are too poor to pay for treatment.
Charity, which deals with the consequences of poverty, while important, does not address the real issue, the structural root causes that create hunger, poverty and dependence. In many countries political interests and the need to pay down the country’s debt have led to diverting resources from domestic needs to western markets. Political solutions are needed to direct the outcome of economic growth to assist those in greatest need. While maintaining many of their charitable works, the Congregations of Saint Joseph have increased their presence in working for systemic change that addresses structural root causes.
Furthermore, persons trapped in poverty must be given the opportunity to shape their own future, which includes access to education and health care as well as opportunities to earn money and/or borrow small sums to develop their own income producing projects.
The complex issue of poverty eradication, one of the Millennium Development Goals, demands that every person and every nation is committed to work to address both the consequences and causes of poverty.
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