After spending time in Ethiopia and Namibia my eyes have been opened to the broad divide that separates the peoples of the world. The 80% of the world that lives on less than $10 a day illustrates this. As I looked for some way to make a meaningful contribution to help close this gap, I at first contributed to local charities and non-governmental agencies I knew on the ground that are making a difference. As I stepped back it was clear these agencies do a great deal of good but compared to the size of this problem they are drops in the ocean.
For some reason I checked out UNICEF’s web site and read about their goals and their focus on addressing poverty, child abuse, health, clean water, starvation, all issues I can associate with. At the same time I read in their 2012 annual report, UNICEF spent $3.8Bn on these issues. From working at a major fortune 50 company, I am used to $$$ numbers of this magnitude and it says to me that UNICEF has the means to make a difference closing this gap. As I read on I came across their ZERO program; this program has the goal of ZERO preventable childhood deaths each day. In 1990, 35,000 children died every day from preventable causes and in 2012 this number has reduced to 18,000. Put another way, over the past 20 years, the death of 90 million children under the age of five have been avoided. Each year this number is dropping in the region of 1-2K deaths a day and the fact is we know how to essentially achieve the goal of ZERO. Pneumonia and diarrhoea are the leading causes of death in the under fives.
When I started pursuing my hobby as a photographer, I didn’t know why I was taking pictures beyond the fact that it was fun. I now realize there is so much more to this than taking pictures I and others appreciate. The visual image has the ability to move whole populations to action, it is powerful. As I started to get paid assignments I set a goal to simply pay for my gear each year and I now recognize I was using my earned revenue as a validation of my worth as a photographer (and based on what I earned I wasn’t good at it 🙂 ). I am in the fortunate position of not needing to rely on earning from photography to make a living and as a result I can use it to make a difference and support the ZERO campaign. Any earnings from my work will go to the UNICEF ZERO fund.
If we put our minds and then our combined resources together we can achieve ZERO. In the past, I felt embarrassed to ask friends for donations, what would they think of me? With an important cause like ZERO it is simply more important to ask and if the answer is no, that’s ok, choice is one of our privileges in this world. If you would like to donate, here is a link.