01 May Heavy-Hearted | We Can’t Help Our Own Country Because We’re Helping Other Countries
As the executive director of The Monkey Do Project, part of my job is to make connections and create relationships with groups, companies and corporate partners that can support our cause. Unfortunately, more and more, I am hearing a variation on this from U.S. companies:
“We don’t have the budget for your project because our charity funds are allocated to helping [insert name of a country other than the U.S.].”
This breaks my heart not because other countries don’t need help (they do and we support that), but it breaks my heart because there are people right here in the United States who desperately need our help–especially U.S. Appalachia where some areas have a poverty rate that is 150% higher the national average.
But the poverty in other countries is so bad that they don’t even have access to water! We have to get them water!
True, but some families in Appalachia don’t have running water either, including indoor plumbing. If you’ve never been there, some of these areas are so rural that you would think you were in a third world country. Many get their water (drinking and bathing) from local creeks or hope that someone donates some to them–the same as other countries we donate to so they can have water. Appalachian rural locations have a hard time attracting business, which can affect the community’s ability to create (or update) water and waste infrastructures that are needed.
But some areas in other countries don’t have electricity!
I know it’s hard to believe, but some Appalachian families, right here in the United States, don’t have electricity either. These families live the same as some of the other people in third world countries–shacks with floors worn through to dirt and no running water or electricity.
Our government and others take care of the poor in this country! Other countries have nothing!
While there are programs in place, many have lost or run out of funds to help those in need in our country. Right now, 55% of U.S. food banks can’t meet the needs of all the people who visit them. Additionally, some families in need fall just above the poverty line (think a few hundred dollars), which makes them ineligible for help of any kind, even though they can’t feed their family.
Come on! It’s America! These people are lazy and can just get a job! Stop living off the system!
Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest misperceptions of U.S. Appalachian poverty. Transportation is the biggest issue when discussing rural versus urban poverty–just like in other countries. Over 40% of the Appalachia is rural–many deeply rural, meaning that the closest town can be 20 or even 50 miles away. Many Appalachian families have no regular transportation to get to a grocery store, let alone a job each day. Believe it or not, some Appalachians do walk 50 miles round trip to minimum wage jobs each day.
Why I’m Telling You All of This Today
This morning I woke up to an email that made me heavy-hearted. We were hopeful that a U.S.-based company was going to be able to sponsor our backpacks for an upcoming health fair. The company notified us that they had decided to allocate their funds solely to a project in another country and were unable to help our project, which would serve their own country.
These are backpacks for Appalachian Ohio kids who have no access to regular health care or supplies for schools. After they go through the health fair and get various check-ups by medical professionals, our filled backpacks were going to be one of their rewards for coming.
The cost for the backpacks alone are $7,000. Right now, we can’t meet the needs for these backpacks.
We’re asking you to support our country and make a donation for our backpacks (simply put “backpacks” in the comment section on the online donation form).
To make a donation, go here.