Thu Nguyen – Board Member
Nearly half of the world’s population, more than 3 billion people, live in poverty, defined as people who live on less than $2.50 USD a day. Of those 3 billion, 1.3 billion lives in extreme poverty, defined as those living on less than $1.90 USD a day, and the sad truth is, children bears the brunt of that poverty. Nearly 385 million, or 19.5% of the world’s children live in extreme poverty. For children, poverty is not just a matter of low income, its affects have a much more far-reaching impact on children. Children experience poverty not only through a lack of things, but as a world that is damaging to their minds, hearts, emotional and spiritual well-being.
I’m a first-generation immigrant from Vietnam. My Mom and I left Vietnam when I was 7 as one of the many thousands of Vietnamese people termed as “boat people” who risked their lives to escape the poverty of Vietnam at that time for a chance at a better life in the U.S. My Mom and I was lucky enough to have completed our trip, and I was doubly lucky to have received the financial and more importantly, the emotional support to lead me to the blessed life that I have today.This blessed life has also led me to many corners of the world, some incredibly beautiful, others, heartbreakingly sad, where children barely have shirts on their bodies and shoes on their feet, and still others, where both environment exists side by side, within arm’s reach of each other’s. It is through seeing these contrasts, coupled with my own experiences of poverty and those helping me, that I can’t help but wonder how such different worlds can exists side by side, yet those with the means to help, does not.
It is said that change starts with one step, one person. I am not that person. Throughout history, thousands, millions of people have reached out and lend a hand to those in needs. I’m simply following in their admirable footsteps with the hope of alleviating just a little of the suffering that I have seen. I have worked with and volunteered for multiple non-profit organizations in the past. My primary focus, however, have been on children, for they are the most vulnerable among us. I believe that to be human, is to be part of a larger family. We live in an interdependent world where we’re all dependent on each other. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the bed we sleep on are brought to us by thousands of people that we’ve never met and thought about. As such, humanity is a family, a house, and the foundation of that house is our children. Our future, as humanity, can be great. But that greatness is wholly dependent on our children. However, until they are strong enough to lead us, it is our responsibility to protect, nurture, and educate them, all of them. The fact that hundreds of millions of our children live in an environment where there is a lack of food, emotional support, basic education, and even more gruesome, some are being abused is, for me, a moral failure by humanity.