Although a disease like measles may seem irrelevant in America today, in African nations it is still very much a threat, killing about 400,000 children each year. What's most frustrating about measles is that--unlike AIDS--it's completely curable and preventable. An inoculation costs less than a dollar.
Two years ago, the city of Corvallis undertook a similar global effort when the mayor there declared October to be "landmine awareness month," where residents chipped in enough money--about $75,000--to sweep a field in Afghanistan. No, it didn't remedy decades of war, but it did make one corner of the world safer.
This past January, bearing this effort in mind, I began asking myself, "What can the average Portlander do to make one small part of the world a better place?" Clearly Portland residents are compassionate about suffering in faraway countries; what problem could we help fight? I decided to spearhead a local effort to raise funds to inoculate children in Mozambique. As a city, I figure, we can raise enough money to inoculate at least 10,000 children--enough people to fill PGE Park!
In the past, city council has waded into international issues, like denouncing the Reagan administration's destabilizing measures in Central America and, more recently, introducing a resolution against the war in Iraq. Those measures have largely been symbolic. But this is an opportunity to directly save lives. In some way, it is a chance to counterbalance the devastation that Americans have committed in other corners of the world--and a chance to express how you would rather American foreign policy manifest itself: as a helping hand rather than a battering ram.
Please (and here's where I sound like Sally Struthers)--for only one dollar, you can save a kid's life. Check out www.redcross-pdx.org.