The Cost of Doing Nothing


A lot of organizations will tell you how little it costs to make a difference towards their cause. It’s important to recognize the tangible change that our supporters can make. We’ve told you that $1 buys 10 bricks, that $52 sends a child in Uganda to school for a year, and countless other metrics by which we can measure our progress. Yet we haven’t told you the value of what we’re doing. We haven’t shared with you the cost of passing up an opportunity to help communities around the world; the cost of sitting back and doing nothing.

As BT supporter Archbishop Desmond Tutu once stated, education is the key to eradicating poverty. In any society, finding employment without basic reading and writing skills is nearly impossible. Parents who lack these skills are thus unable to provide for the basic needs of their families, much less to open new doors for them. Rather than being free to attend school, their child would likely be expected to assist with household duties or find work to help support the family. He or she could work long hours of hard, manual labor, risking injury and exhaustion. And if that injury were serious enough, the family would lose an income earner while, at the same time, needing to find funds for treatment. These conditions make for a vicious cycle in which the next generation falls into the same poverty as the one that came before it.

So many consequences of poverty could equally be considered consequences of the illiteracy that commonly accompanies it. For example, you might suggest that the family in the previous situation should approach their bank for a loan. writingHowever, an adult who has never learned to write their name cannot sign to borrow money from a bank. Similarly, he or she cannot read a pamphlet with information about preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. And with no education, statistics show that a mother faces higher maternal and infant mortality rates. In fact, children of women who have completed primary school are 40% less likely to die before age 5 (according to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). Though the child might survive, the cycle of poverty and illiteracy continues if there is no change to the status quo.

It may seem that this circle never ends. Yet when a school is built, a community can empower itself. Children can learn to read and write, and have a platform through which they can think creatively and innovatively. A primary education increases the likelihood that these students have of finding stable employment, which will allow them to support their family and friends. They can break the negative cycle and instead start a positive movement forward, with each generation learning more and creating greater opportunities than the last. To quote Queen Rania of Jordan, who is an activist for the cause of education, “Education doesn’t just beat poverty. It beats disease, it beats inequality and for girls, education is nothing less than a lifesaver, from stigmatism, insecurity, and violence.”

Today, the cost of building a school is approximately $60,000. But it’s clear, the cost of doing nothing is so much more.

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