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"It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature." Laura Ingalls Wilder
As an (American) ex-pat
currently living in Africa, I am more aware of the philanthrophic side of Bill
Gates, these days, than his corporate side. The Mr. Gates the general public
knows today is not the Mr. Gates our grandchildren will remember. Bill Gates
has a vision of the future in terms of vaccines and great improvements in agriculture,
education, world public health and population--a world where the death of an
African child will be considered just as important as the death of an American
child. He comes from a family dedicated to philanthropic works, where both his
parents spent many years as community leaders.
If it takes a highly successful and visionary businessman to speak to (and encourage) our world leaders, for them to sit up a moment and take notice, then more power to him. (It would also behoove America if our "CEO thieves" took notice as well). Like Ted Turner before him, who bullied others who had 'money and lots of it,' to do more and foster a new spirit of philanthropy throughout the world. (Ted Turner, set up a $1 billion UN foundation - the biggest private gift the UN had ever received). Turner warned that the "new super-rich won't loosen up their wads because they're afraid they'll reduce their net worth and go down on the Forbes list."
As Arianna Huffington wrote, "Those helping the needy have been in short supply, while those giving to already-flush universities and museums, often to fund buildings bearing their names, have been everywhere.... I'm a big believer in using any means necessary-including shame-to bring about a fundamental shift in the way we deal with the least among us." She awarded MINUS points for self-aggrandizing gifts, and PLUS points for gifts that help overcome poverty, alleviate suffering, and turn lives around.
The Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation demonstrates a 'hands-on' attitude to their giving and both are actively involved in their effective philanthropy. As a resident, now, of an East African country, I have witnessed (as in other parts of the world) millions and millions of dollars pouring in (to the pockets of politicians) and a degree of corruption that leaves well-intentioned donors and aid agencies without reliable partners for development programs.
Prior to an address to the World Leaders in Davos (2000), Gates participated in an announcement for the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a public-private partnership created to address the devastating health problems caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies, of which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $50 million commitment over five years to support the alliance. For as much money as Bill Gates has made, he plans to give the bulk of that wealth away during his lifetime. I think his participation and involvement in his philanthropic foundation, which funds efforts and supports initiatives in areas of public and global health, global education and the empowerment of the economically disadvantaged, more than qualifies him to make his appeal on Child Health.
As much money as the 'Bill
Gates of the world' have donated, PEOPLE (i.e., politicians) are the resources
which have to make a difference."We're talking about saving millions of
lives a year here. It's about people" and "difficult problems might
be solved by the intervention of enormous resources and armies of intelligent
people." It seems that Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation have "bank-rolled"
some of those experts and resources for the world's children to survive. Private
Funding is not enough. Governments and their politicians must step up to the
plate as well.
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