Let’s Work Together: Worldwide Poverty

Poverty is not an antiquated phenomenon of the past. In fact, according to Adam Smith’s 1776 The Wealth of Nations, income inequalities, among citizens of the United States, were obvious then as much as they are still obvious now.

Native Americans, for example, were suppressed by aristocrats and conquistadors, and were required to involuntarily function as indentured servants. This is equivalent to a form of slavery, even before and after President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which supposedly abolished slavery.

Even after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration declared a war on poverty in 1964, poverty today is still notoriously high, especially on Native American reservations.

In 2014, according to the American Indian Humanitarian Foundation, the Lakota Sioux reservations in South Dakota were ranked as one of the poorest reservations in the United States based on per capita income.

This also applies to other demographics, such as children, single mothers, and the elderly. In 2013, child poverty reached an all time high with 16.7 million children living in food insecure households.

Also, in 2008, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) declared that poverty among the elderly was 23%.

Such data should not be dismissed or discredited. Today, these statistics have not declined; they have substantially increased. This is precisely why we should work together to declare our own war on poverty and to demonstrate our commitment to abolish poverty, not only in the United States, but throughout the world as well.

Poverty is not only a global phenomenon; it is also a horrific plague of the human spirit. This is especially why the initiatives of the Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A., established in 1981, as a private, non-denominational, non-profit, international development organization, are designed not only to alleviate global poverty and the epidemics of disease, hunger, and illiteracy worldwide, but also to work together locally so that we can voluntarily give anyone who suffers from poverty or from any of its horrific forms a ‘hand up’.

Apathy or doing nothing, on any level, is unacceptable. Become a partner in action now! Let’s work together!


John Scolaro is a Senior Teaching Fellow/Professor of Humanities at Valencia College in Orlando.