Find the “one,” and data points become seeds of hope
By James E. Copple
As a policy guy working to change environment for the greatest good to the whole, the realities of numbers or data run deep when I see, first-hand, a child playing in the waste of a slum community; parents struggling to educate their child; a family mourning the loss of a child, lost because that child was born into the wrong neighborhood.
Data is critical in our efforts to end global poverty and injustice, but the chasm between numbers and people sometimes seems impassable, especially when the “data” is, in fact, a child.
More than 3 billion people (half the world population) live on $2.50 a day; 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty on $1.25 a day; and more than a billion of those living in poverty are children. These are the numbers that leave me collapsed with anger, empathy and brokenness at the end of a day.
Relief and justice for our global friends and neighbors depends on data points, but the numbers can be numbing and create a sense of futility. So, we must see the policy-graphing through the life and lens of an individual. Policy change will affect the greater number; individual interventions can transform a life.
The face of a child, mother or father reveals a complex individual living in a network of systems called the home, school and community. The capacity to have hope, to act or escape emerges from a series of empowering interventions. When we design interventions, they must be effective for the “one” among them. What works for the individual brings possibility for all 3 billion data points.
So, yes, the size and scope of problems can be overwhelming, but when you see transformation in individual lives, you see the seeds of hope. We stand on data but transformation is the horizon we must pursue.
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