Here's what child poverty looks like in 6 nations

Jan 22, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Image: Jessica Gardner/Global Aid Network

Over 16 million American children live in poverty, and their experiences lead to inequalities in education, opportunity, housing and even nutrition.

Their plight is insidious, and it deserves the attention of American citizens and lawmakers. But in our attention to the challenges that face our own nation, I fear we lose sight of the difficulties of children around the world — who may or may not have citizens and lawmakers who can do anything to address their suffering.

I caught up with humanitarians Reed and Jessica Gardner to find out what child poverty looks like in nations around the world. In the midst of our busy lives, let's commit to not forget them.

Battling HIV in Somalia


Image: Jessica GardnerGlobal Aid Network

Somalia is a war-torn nation that suffers from a host of social issues, one of which is HIV/AIDS. Somalian men usually do not know their HIV status. If they pass the disease to their wives and children, the men will often abandon their families due to the social stigma of HIV. "The mom and daughter in the picture are both HIV positive," explains Gardner. "The mom's husband left her and their eight children when he found out." Thankfully, there is an HIV clinic in their town where they can receive medications and nutritious food, free of charge."

Fighting for justice in Honduras


Image: Jessica GardnerGlobal Aid Network

"San Pedro de Sula, Honduras, is one of the most dangerous cities in the world," says Gardner. "In fact, many polls call it the murder capital of the world." Children aren't able to go to school or play safely in such a dangerous city, so humanitarian workers have started elementary schools in the slum neighborhoods that surround a dump in the city, so the children have a chance to obtain education without undergoing a dangerous walk through the city's streets.

Staying warm in Jordan

syrian refugees

Image: Jessica GardnerGlobal Aid Network

Jordan has recently experienced an influx of refugees from the crisis in Syria. "Most were forced to leave with only the clothes on their backs," says Gardner. "Some can't work, but even those that do spend all of their money on rent, so they don't have money for other needs like clothes, shoes and blankets." Donations of clothing and shoes make all the difference for refugee children in Jordan's frigid winters.

Searching for clean water in Guatemala


Image: Jessica GardnerGlobal Aid Network

Unsafe drinking water is a leading cause of childhood illness and death all over the world. As Gardner explains, finding clean water can be a real challenge in Guatemala. "The families we visited would scoop water out of their supply and show us the parasites floating around," he said. Thankfully, Gardner's organization was able to provide information about safe drinking water, as well as efficient water filters, to the Guatemalan family pictured above. There are still many more families, however, who go without.

Keeping tummies full in Kenya


Image: Jessica GardnerGlobal Aid Network

"Kenya is a place of many extremes and many issues facing children," Gardner says. "One of the main issues is adequate nutrition." For children who live in the slums in Kenya, their only meal for the day may be a donated meal that they receive at school, if they are lucky enough to attend. A steady stream of international food donations is what makes this one meal possible.

Obtaining basic care for childhood illness in Peru


Image: Jessica GardnerGlobal Aid Network

Remote villages in Peru often don't have access to the most basic medications and health education. "We conduct week-long clinics to quickly address chronic issues like parasites and worms, which can lead to serious malnutrition if left unaddressed," Gardner says. Without basic medical clinics for childhood illnesses, many of these children would die.

If you want to make a difference in this new year, you can donate to the Gardner's organization, Global Aid Network, or to other NGOs that are committed to fighting child poverty.

Disclaimer: Global Aid Network does not provide aid to all of the countries mentioned above.

More about social issues

Help! My kid's friend tried to sell his Adderall
After Eric Garner, what am I supposed to tell my son?
Religious parents shouldn't let the church handle parenting

Tagged in