Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change

I was giving a briefing last night here in Boston on the situation in Ukraine and, specifically, on the increased costs of our operations there. If we have to keep Hesed case workers longer hours, have them sleep over in the homes of immobile clients and increase security ... these items add to the budget. But more importantly, there's a huge issue of food costs that's looming for our Hesed programs and our clients.

As inflation, hoarding and shortages hits the food supply, we've noticed a 15-30% increase in the cost of basic food items in the past couple of weeks. The problem is that if you're a Jewish pensioner living in Ukraine, then your pension barely covers the minimal amount you were buying beforehand. As it was, you've been forced to make horrible choices between food and medicine, or limit the amount of decent produce you could buy. But now ... even a slight fluctuation in food costs will make life impossible.

Explaining this with stories is important. But there's a clear visual image that brings this home:

Even before this latest crisis, the state-run social services haven't been adjusted to keep pace with the deteriorating local economies. So you saw rising costs, growing unemployment, and ongoing currency fluctuations. If you're living in Ukraine, or Russia, or many of the countries in which we serve - you won't earn enough in your pension to cover even your basic expenses.

Want to know why life expectancy in these countries is so short, and why health is so poor? Start with that chart.

Want to know how to make a difference? Help us help the poorest, neediest Jews in the world through your Jewish federation or with a direct donation.

(The quote is by Muhammed Ali)

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