13 March 2009

Red Nose Day 2009

Today is Red Nose Day.

Red Nose day provides us with a very entertaining and yet sobering television event that throws into stark relief the difference between the West and the Third World.

Those of you who read this blog will be aware that I have a dog. He has a better life than many children in Africa; he has a ready supply of food and shelter, all his needs are catered for, he enjoys love and comfort every day of his short life. Fifteen months ago, he had surgery costing £1700 to correct cruciate ligament damage to his left knee. Five months ago, he had the same for his other knee. In Africa, a million children a year die from the avoidable disease of malaria for want of a mosquito net costing £5. The cost of his surgery could be seen as 680 African children's lives. We spend £20 a month on pet insurance - that's forty-eight innocent lives in Africa lost in one year.

I enjoy a whisky. A decent bottle costs about £25, and lasts about a month. That's five more children. A night out at the cinema with popcorn and a pizza can cost £25 - another five children.

I could go on and list all the luxury items I enjoy and equate them to the lives of innocent children. I am one person and if we all of us reflected on the things that we could manage to live without we could very quickly account for the one million lives lost in Africa.

The plight of African children is only one cause in our needy world; there are plenty of other results of poverty even here in our own country that could be eased or even eradicated if only we were prepared to forego a luxury or two for a while.

We do not live in the Third World. Things are very different here, and the value we place on things is very different. Of course, we cannot be expected to reduce ourselves to poverty. The fact is that we do not have to in order to bring about some sort of redress for the massive inequalities in our world. It is amazing how far a little of our money can go in the Third World: £200 for a year's education, for example (how much would that cost in the UK?).

When you set that fact against the cost of our luxuries in the West, you will realise that you can make a huge difference by going without something for a short time - that bottle of decent wine, perhaps. Why not be especially generous and give two or three times that amount? You really won't miss it but, even if you do, just think that you could change for the good the course of one life by a simple act of generosity. What if that one life were another Nelson Mandella or a William Wilberforce?

The Red Nose plea is to give what you can: that's all. If you can make a simple sacrifice of something, you will find that you can give more than you first thought. Red Nose day makes giving easy. Here are the options.

  1. Dial 03457 910910 and have your card ready.
  2. Use the red button on your digital TV service.
  3. Donate on-line at bbc.co.uk/rednoseday
  4. Text 'yes' to 66609 to make a £5 donation.
Do it! It's not too late. Make a difference today.

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