Monday, April 11, 2016

Poverty and the Zika Virus and Pope Francis' Call To Help the Poor

As Pope Francis so often reminds us, we can't forget about our poor and marginalized brothers and sisters in the world. Those who are trapped in poverty cannot overcome their situation without help. We can all do more.
I sponsor a little girl from a third world country and through my monthly giving, I help her to have basic necessities that her family could not otherwise afford. I give to other charities as well.
But we can all do more.
I recently read an article in the New York Times written by a medical doctor,  Dr. Peter Hotez, who is warning that the Zika virus spread by a certain type of mosquito and which is believed to be responsible for babies being born with a devastating brain birth defect (microcephaly), will soon spread in areas of poverty in the southern United States.  As he wrote in the article ("Zika is Coming"), "In crowded places, mosquitoes have lots of access to lots of people. Poor people often live in proximity to garbage, including old tires, plastic containers and drainage ditches filled with stagnant water, where this species of mosquito lives and breeds. And they often have homes with torn screens on their windows. The combination creates ideal conditions for the Zika virus to spread."
He also wrote that "the extremely poor cities of Brazil's northeastern states make up the epicenter of the epidemic."
I've seen pictures of Brazilian mothers holding and comforting their babies who have been born with small heads and brain damage. It is heartbreaking to see these poor mothers who have so few resources to begin with, now having to care for these babies. They need help from charitable organizations and from government agencies.
So Pope Francis' message of compassion for the poor and more equality and better paying jobs and opportunities for the poor, wherever they exist in the world, is needed now more than ever.  When will we listen and act upon his wisdom?