Not what you expected?

April 14, 2011

If you had presented the following facts to me a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t have guessed the nation they describe:

  • Among developed nations, she has one of the highest rates of relative poverty, according to reports released just a few years ago.
  • One in six of her people live below the poverty line. That’s 19 million people, according to a January 2010 report.
  • She’s the most indebted of all industrialized nations, according to an article that came out just this month.

If you picked Japan, you either knew that the answer had to relate to our fundraising efforts, or you’ve been paying way more attention to the world’s geopolitics than I have. (Yes, Japan is the correct answer.)

When I think of Japan, I think of a technologically-advanced, industrial powerhouse. I think of cars, electronics, cities glowing with neon lights. I think of some of the world’s brightest, most honorable businesspeople, dressed in suits and working long hours.

I don’t think of poverty.

When I took a few minutes to think about it, the reality of poverty in Japan made sense to me. The gross domestic product (GDP) of a nation cannot protect all of her citizens from poverty.

Then, as I thought more about Japan, I realized that if my life had just been rocked by one of the worst natural disasters in recent history, I’d want people’s first reaction to be, “How can I help?” not, “How well off were you before this happened?”

You can read about GHNI’s efforts to help in Japan by clicking here. To add your pledge to our fundraising efforts, click here.