Theme: “Building Forward Together: Ending Persistent Poverty, Respecting all People and our Planet”.
There are 836 million people in the world living in extreme poverty and almost half of those are children under 18. For these children and families, every day is a struggle to survive. The COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world during the past year has resulted in reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty and extreme poverty.
According to the World Bank, between 88 and 115 million people are being pushed into poverty as a result of the crisis, with the majority of the new extreme poor being found in South Asian and Sub-Saharan countries where poverty rates are already high”. In 2021, this number is expected to have risen to between 143 and 163 million. These ‘new poor’ will join the ranks of the 1.3 billion people already living in multidimensional and persistent poverty who saw their pre-existing deprivations aggravated during the global pandemic. As a matter of fact, the measures imposed to limit the spread of the pandemic often further pushed them into poverty – the informal economy which enables many people in poverty to survive was virtually shut down in many countries.
Impact of COVID 19 on poverty.
Implementation of the 3rd Decade of the UN Elimination of Poverty strategy
As we embark on the post-COVID recovery and getting back on track with the Sustainable Development Goals, many are talking of “building back better,” but the message is clear from the people living in extreme poverty that they do not want a return to the past nor to build back to what it was before. They do not want a return to the endemic structural disadvantages and inequalities. Instead, people living in poverty propose to build forward.
Building forward means transforming our relationship with nature, dismantling structures of discrimination that disadvantage people in poverty and building on the moral and legal framework of human rights that places human dignity at the heart of policy and action. Building forward means not only that no one is left behind, but that people living in poverty are actively encouraged and supported to be in the front, engaging in informed and meaningful participation in decision-making processes that directly affect their lives. In building forward, we need to let ourselves be enriched by the wealth of wisdom, energy and resourcefulness that people living in poverty can contribute to our communities, our societies and ultimately to our planet.
In a world characterized by an unprecedented level of economic development, technological means and financial resources, that millions of persons are living in extreme poverty is a moral outrage. Poverty is not solely an economic issue, but rather a multidimensional phenomenon that encompasses a lack of both income and the basic capabilities to live in dignity.
Persons living in poverty experience many interrelated and mutually reinforcing deprivations that prevent them from realizing their rights and perpetuate their poverty, including:
- dangerous work conditions
- unsafe housing
- lack of nutritious food
- unequal access to justice
- lack of political power
- limited access to health care
Creator God, you loved the world into life. Forgive us when our dreams of the future are shaped by anything other than glimpses of a kingdom of justice, peace and an end to poverty. Incarnate God, you taught us to speak out for what is right. Make us content with nothing less than a world that is transformed into the shape of love, where poverty shall be no more. Breath of God, let there be abundant life. Inspire us with the vision of poverty over, and give us the faith, courage and will to make it happen.
Let us pray for the poor, hungry, and neglected all over the world, that their cries for daily bread may inspire works of compassion and mercy among those to whom much has been given.
Let us pray for the farmers with limited or marginal land throughout the world, for those who lack access to water and other resources, and for the light of research and support services to shine in the lives of all God’s people.
Let us pray for the health of women, children, and families around the world, especially for an end to maternal and child mortality, that in building healthy families, all God’s people may be empowered to strengthen their communities and repair the breaches which divide nations and peoples.
Let us pray for an end to the waste and desecration of God’s creation, for access to the fruits of creation to be shared equally among all people, and for communities and nations to find sustenance in the fruits of the earth and the water God has given us.
Let us pray for all nations and people who already enjoy the abundance of creation and the blessings of prosperity, that their hearts may be lifted up to the needs of the poor and afflicted, and partnerships between rich and poor for the reconciliation of the world may flourish and grow.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Creator God, Your image is alive in every human person
giving to each of us an inviolable dignity.
Create in us a desire to act in solidarity, the ability to work together,
and a willingness to share with others
our time, our energy, our skills and talents and our wealth.
As we share and enjoy the fruits of your creation,
restore in us your vision of a world made whole,
and inspire us to commit ourselves to the common good.
Gracious God, give us ears to hear, eyes to see and hearts to love,
so that we reflect you in our way of life,
and in our choices, words and actions.
Jesus is the good news to the poor.
As his followers, may we recognize the call to be the same.
Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit, you are the origin of all gifts.
Make us grateful stewards of your many blessings.
Father, Creator of Abundance,
Grant us generosity in sharing our gifts and resources
with our brothers and sisters around the world.
Jesus, Prince of Peace, Make us advocates of the peace
that strengthens justice and the justice that sustains peace.
Spirit of Justice, May the love and equality you share with the Father and the Son
inspire us to support just trade policies that lift up poor persons.
Father, Maker of the World,
Make us responsible stewards of the earth’s riches
and respectful of local peoples from whose lands resources are extracted .
Jesus, Lord who Lightens Burdens,
May we look with mercy on nations burdened by debt and commit ourselves to their relief.
Holy Spirit, Author of Life, Inspire us to protect the gift of creation,
and to assist those in poverty, who suffer the most from environmental harm.
Blessed Trinity, Communion of Love,
Help us to love our global neighbors and those displaced from their homes
by welcoming refugees and immigrants and reducing poverty in other countries.
Father, through your Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit,
Help us to recognize your face in all those affected by global poverty
and fill us with the love and fortitude we need to confront its causes.
God, for all those trapped in poverty;
Bring your freedom and fullness of life.
For all those with insufficient income;
Bring employment and creative new ways of earning a living.
For nations weighed down by unmanageable debt;
Bring release and an end to crippling burdens.
For those unable to make a living because of cheap subsidized imports from rich nations;
Bring your justice and restore their market to them so they can trade.
For countries and communities desperate for help;
Bring aid and donations with no hidden strings attached.
For governments denied their rightful income;
Bring in the taxes that they are owed.
And for all of us here, so aware of the problems;
Bring a hunger for change that fuels us to champion your solutions.
God of Justice, open our eyes
to see you in the face of those in poverty.
Open our ears to hear you
in the cries of those exploited.
Open our mouths to defend you
in the public squares as well as in private deeds.
Remind us that what we do to the least ones, we do to you.
O Creator of all living things:
We are all hungry in a world full of abundance.
The possibilities of food for bodies and souls overflow in this
We ask for the grace to see the abundance of our world and
enough awareness to acknowledge our sins of greed and fear.
Give us openness of soul and courageous, willing hearts
to be with our sisters and brothers who are hungry and in pain.
We ask for your intercession on behalf of every person hungry
for earthly food and hungry for the taste of the Spirit of God.
We give thanks that we can be part of that intercession.
This world is blessed with enough food of the earth
for every person to eat and be satisfied.
We all can feed on the bread of Christ, through the Holy Spirit,
as God makes a home in our hearts.
We come together in awe and wonder
at the Creator who loves us so much
that we are invited and urged to be co-creators with God
in the care of our brothers and sisters.
In the name of the tender Mother-Father of all people who
hears every cry, Amen.
(Source: Ann Case, Lifting Women’s Voices: Prayers to Change the World)
Our Loving Creator God, we bring before you this day the burden the whole world carries as it endures extreme poverty and hunger in every land. Stretch out your loving arms, we pray, to embrace the suffering women, men and children whose bodies, minds and spirits are shrinking before our very eyes. Help us to look, really look, with clear eyes and open hearts, to see the pain and hopelessness in their bewildered eyes. Kindle within each one of us a flame of love and purpose, and then enable us to channel our love into action in every way possible and impossible. For this we pray. Amen.
(Source: Mimi A. Simson, Episcopal Relief & Development)