Let's Band Together and Make Poverty History; SEND A MESSAGE TO THE G8 LEADERS

Article excerpt

Byline: ROS WYNNE-JONES

IN 75 days, the leaders of the world's eight richest nations meet to discuss the fate of the world's poorest countries.

These G8 leaders - our representatives - have the power to eliminate extreme poverty from the planet.

But do they have the will?

This is where we can all help - and for once it's not simply about giving money.

The statistics tell their own story. By the end of today, 50,000 people - 30,000 of them children - will have died of poverty.

That's 2,083 people an hour, 35 every minute - and a child every three seconds. All dead. Every day of every week of every year.

When they convene to discuss this appalling situation, our leaders hope to decide on a course of international action to ease the pain.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has led the way, by calling for a radical shake- up in global trade rules, to cut the debts of the poorest countries.

But with the best will in the world, that will not end this modern-day scourge. That's why we need to act, to send a message to our leaders - one they cannot ignore.

The next 75 days will see an extraordinary global uprising of people who want George Bush, Tony Blair and the others to make the change.

Already, a world-wide movement of 200 charities is working towards making poverty history and becoming more vocal by the week.

You may have seen the army of people wearing white wrist-bands on TV and elsewhere - campaigning to Make Poverty History.

You may have heard Tony Blair call the state of poverty in Africa "a scar on the conscience of the world".

You may have read this newspaper's coverage of a place in Rwanda we are calling the Village of Hope - a community the Daily Mirror and Oxfam have sponsored for 2005 as part of the campaign.

ALL of these strands are coming together in the next two-and-a-half months, to send the mother of all messages to the politicians.

So how can you play your part?

Well, you could donate pounds 1 to get a white Make Poverty History wrist-band.

Or you can join us over the coming weeks to make your own, personal contribution to the cause.

It could be an email, a letter to your MP or to Tony Blair, or perhaps you'll take part in one of the global days of action we'll tell you about in the coming weeks.

To remind politicians of this tragedy, we'll be marking the 75 days to the G8 summit with a daily countdown, which will also tell you how many people have died of poverty since the beginning of 2005.

Each generation bears its own shame. The 19th century was disfigured by slavery. The 20th century's crimes against humanity included the Holocaust.

But in the "civilised" 21st century, six million children are dying every year from malnutrition before their fifth birthday. …