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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 October 2007, 19:30 GMT 20:30 UK
Global voices against poverty
People all over the world are taking part in a day of action to hold governments to a UN pledge, made seven years ago, to eradicate poverty by 2015.

MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS (DEADLINE: 2015)
Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Achieve universal primary education
Promote gender equality and empower women
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Development a global partnership for development
Organisers of the Stand Up Speak Out event, which started at 2100 GMT on Tuesday, are using everything from concerts to kite-flying events to draw attention to their demands.

Some of those taking part from different corners of the planet explain here why the issue of reducing poverty is important to them, and how they will be playing their part.

BIOZID JESSOREY, 25, SOCIAL WORKER, DHAKA, BANGLADESH

Here in Bangladesh, 40% of young people are living below the poverty line because they cannot get any work.

Biozid

To make it worse, the flooding this year was really bad and gave us the feeling that we had lost so much of the gains we had made in recent years. This is something I am determined we will not take sitting down.

This is our chance as young people to make sure our voices are heard by our politicians.

We want them to prioritise job creation projects so we can be part of the new generation that builds a better country than our parents had.

Young people are one-third of total world population but still, in many cases, they are ignored.

My father died when I was just two, so my mother had to bring us up alone.

She was always working so hard for the small things but she taught me an important lesson, if people dare to believe they can change something, they will achieve it - if not today then tomorrow. That is the spirit I feel inside me today.

DIALA SHAHEEN, 10, SCHOOLGIRL, RAMALLAH, WEST BANK

I go to school in Ramallah and we are going to be the first group here in the West Bank to perform the Poverty Requiem [a specially commissioned piece of vocal music written by composer Peter Maissan].

Dalia
There are 25 choirs in other countries doing the same piece, so we feel like we are making a chain around the world with the music.

I think this music is amazing. It is easier to tell people how it is to be poor and how to make things better when we are singing about it, I think.

We are going to do dances and a puppet show afterwards. I will tell a short story on poverty for everyone to understand the problems we need to fix.

It is not always easy to get help in my city, everything is expensive and my parents work too hard.

We want things to change for all the time, not just today.

FAWOLE ORIGBADE MOSES, 27, FARMER, NIGERIA

I would say I come from one of the poorest families in the world.

I started farming when I was just six, working as a labourer on farms in the village. At the end of the day the meagre amount of money earned couldn't even feed you for a week.

Fawole

I managed to send myself to school and pay for my exams. Now I've finished my diploma in banking and finance and I'm back at the farm, living with my parents. There was no job other than the farming business but I am trying to make it work better for me than it ever did for my parents.

Nigeria has enough resources to fight poverty and to offer education and opportunities for young people but it does not do it.

There is corruption and the politicians get away with all sorts of things. I believe it is so important the young people of Nigeria know what they want from their government.

Now I am a youth leader in my village and I want to be part of the new generation of Nigerians who are not going to take things lying down.

Today I will visit the local government representative in my village with my fellow farmers.

I want them to build good roads to link us to the nearby markets. I really believe that if we stand up for our rights and speak out against things that we do not agree with then the local authorities will have to heed our call.

MARIOLIVA GONZALEZ, 24, YOUTH LEADER, MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

In my country, more than 30% of the population are young people. Problems such as poverty, lack of education, gender inequality, HIV and unemployment always affect youth more than any other demographic group.

Marioliva
However, these young people haven't heard that promises have been made by world leaders to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and change this situation for all of us by 2015.

And when they do become familiar with them, they feel like they don't have power to make a difference or hold their government accountable.

I believe in the power of youth to change things. We are going to Stand Up at the Angel of Independence, an icon in Mexico.

Mexico is lagging behind in every goal, but especially the seventh - on ensuring environmental sustainability. Deforestation is a big problem in our country. So we recently mobilised young volunteers to replace trees in five different communities and we planted a total of 100,000 trees.

I believe that we are the first generation that can eradicate poverty, as long as we take action.

ELIAS MICHAELS, 22, STUDENT, BERLIN, GERMANY

I come from Heidelberg, a town in southwest Germany. When I was 13, I moved with my parents and two sisters to Nepal, where my father was doing research on the country's culture and its religious traditions. We lived for two years in a small town near Kathmandu.

Elias

The change from my convenient life in Germany was quite a shock to me. We always had to boil water before drinking it, the choice of foods was limited and we had to be careful the food hadn't gone off.

And still, I realised that we were far better off than the people who were suffering on the streets. That was difficult for me. We tried to somehow support our neighbours when they needed it, but we couldn't help everyone.

Some of my friends there couldn't go to school because they needed to work. When I talk about poverty now, I always think about these people in Nepal. It really motivates me to help promote the Millennium Development Goals.

Promises won't fill poor people's stomachs as long as no action follows. I really encourage everyone to Stand Up, because, as many of us live in a democratic country we have the chance to influence the heads of our governments. The more people Stand Up the higher the public attention gets, and with that, the political pressure.

MOHAMMED ABU-KHUSA, 15, STUDENT, GAZA CITY

I love to run. I'm very proud of the 25 medals I've won through long-distance running in Gaza, where half of the population of Gaza is under 15.

I live at home with six brothers and sisters.
Mohammed
My father is blind and can't work. Sometimes we don't eat breakfast, and we don't have a fridge in our kitchen. I run because I want to make my father and my country proud, even though more than 70% of Gazans are unemployed.

I want to show others just how much Palestinians can achieve. My fastest time over 100m is 12 seconds. I know I could run faster if I had a better diet. One day I am going to be a champion but I have never competed abroad. It's hard to take part in international competitions because the borders in Gaza are closed all the time.

I feel happy when I run, but not totally. Though I could run forever, I never seem to get too far away.

I am standing up against poverty because, if athletes in Gaza were provided with the means, like other countries, we would become world champions.

RICHA CHOPRA, 35, WORKS FOR ART OF LIVING FOUNDATION, BANGALORE, INDIA

I am just an ordinary person, but I want a safer world, free of poverty and stress, for every person in this world.

Richa

I work for the Art of Living, the foundation started by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I really believe it is important to take part in today's event - to remind our leaders that they have promised a better and safer world for us all by achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

I am personally organising a rally with 40,000 people in the amphitheatre of foundation's international centre here in Bangalore.

If we act together, each one of us can complement each other's strengths. If we all stand together, it will create a ripple which cannot go unnoticed.

We need to act now. Let each one of us contribute to the best of our abilities. It is our world, and all of us - beyond boundaries, caste, creed and regions - have to walk and act together.

SIFATULLAH HABIB, 44, DOCTOR, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

Since the Taleban left power in Afghanistan, unemployment rates have soared here.

Sifatullah
People from all backgrounds, with or without qualifications, are jobless, and this is leading to desperate poverty as well as other social ills.

I'm a doctor and I have been working for some time on a health programme with people who are struggling to make ends meet.

The government is doing nothing to be more accountable to its people. There is so much aid money pouring into our country from international donors, but where is it being spent?

It seems to disappear in corrupt deals which do nothing to help the poor. Water is sold to irrigate neighbouring countries and no investment is made in agriculture here. Foreigners don't hire Afghans to build roads and railways when they win contracts, and electricity is bought from outside the country when there are 20 dams here already.

What is happening in Kabul and other Afghan cities today is exciting and new for our people. We have been getting organised for months now and during the holy day of Eid, so everyone knows what this day against poverty is about and what is happening in other countries.

On Wednesday there will be a kite-flying event with thousands of young people gathering on the hills overlooking Kabul.

Some 500 kites with the words "Speak Out" will be flown, and afterwards the families will gather in a mass rally of 20,000 people to call for reforms.

Many of my friends and colleagues are going to meet government officials to lobby for new laws to protect the poor and create jobs without corruption and theft.



SEE ALSO
Millennium goals: in statistics
05 Sep 07 |  Business
$37bn debt cut for poor nations
30 Jun 06 |  Business
Nobel for anti-poverty pioneers
13 Oct 06 |  Europe
UN urges rapid action on poverty
17 Jan 05 |  Americas

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