Ending Poverty

I didn’t expect to hear Brad Pitt advocate
ending poverty. Tonight on ABC he and Diane Sawyer presented concise,
interesting information about poverty in Ethiopia and advocated for ending
extreme poverty in the next ten years, and ending poverty in twenty

Normally, I’d shy away from a Diane Sawyer interview of Brad Pitt. But tonight we settled on what was billed as “The Interview” and it was actually a good look at poverty in Ethiopia with a few facts tossed in about how it might be ended.

Sawyer accompanied Pitt on a return to Ethiopia (he’d been there five months earlier) and documented his conversations with children and adults affected by HIV/AIDS. One of the most touching scenes was shot at a Save the Children house where children spoke of their fears about the future. One little girl, an orphan, wept when she expressed her fear that she would not have the money to pay fees to attend school next year.

Pitt and Sawyer made several comparisons of cost for hamburgers in the U.S. and medicines for AIDS in Africa. Sawyer said, for example that for the cost of a hamburger and shake a six-month supply of drugs could be given to an AIDS patient. It’s a good perspective.

Sawyer’s narration also pointedly noted that the U.S. is far behind Europe and Japan in foreign assistance. Persons-on-the-street were asked how much the U.S. gives to foreign aid. If they dared guess, most guessed more than 10% of the budget. In fact, as Pitt said, it’s less than 1%. Sawyer noted the U.S. is the stingiest government in the developed world.

Pitt became involved in fighting poverty through a relationship with the rocker Bono. Bono’s one.org is seeking to influence the G8 Summit to ante up aid for Africa by encouraging U.S. citizens to send a message to President Bush. The approach is non-confrontational and the message includes voices from a wide range of faith expressions and politics.

It’s a worthy effort. It has the potential to unite rather than divide. Most importantly, it has the potential to make progess toward ending poverty and bringing pressure to bear on the U.S. to step up to the plate as Tony Blair is proposing. ABC did a good job telling the story in language and images that were clear, simple and effective. More power to Pitt and his willingness to tell the stories of Africa’s children.

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