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Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Bill Gates thinks a lot about how he and his wife Melinda can use their wealth to help solve problems affecting much of the world. But in his most recent annual open letter, Gates’ wants to dispel three commonly held myths the he believes “block progress for the poor.” Gates believes that too often, people think that because of the state of current conditions “poor countries are doomed to stay poor,” that the spending of “foreign aid is a waste”, and “saving lives leads to overpopulation.” If you have a few minutes today, the graphic-heavy letter, which is loaded with stats about current anti-poverty efforts and ways you can get involved, is a fascinating read.

The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful. That’s why in this year’s letter we take apart some of the myths that slow down the work. The next time you hear these myths, we hope you will do the same.

 
This year was big for foreign aid, relief and development. Here's what we learned. Read More
 

Despite on-going wars, poverty and environmental concerns, according to a new report, “The world is becoming more prosperous, cleaner, increasingly peaceful and healthier.” In his upcoming book, How Much Have Global Problems Cost the World, Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg looked at measurable metrics like deaths from war, life expectancy and education rates, and found that there has never been a time in human history that globally, people have fared so well on average. Though problems like illiteracy, lack of access to healthcare resources, war and extreme poverty are still major issues for many people around the world, statistically the numbers of people facing these challenges are lower (for the most part) than they have ever been.

Even in recent decades, there have been observable improvements: In developing countries, deaths resulting from lack of clean water dropped 1.5 in every 1,000 (in 1950) to .4 in 1,000 today; from 2000 to 2011 alone, the average life expectancy in Africa increased by six years; the global rate of illiteracy is the lowest it has ever been; the world’s child mortality rate is expected to be reduced by half by the year 2050. Lomborg says that because of factors like global capitalism, technological advances and an overall lower tolerance toward acts of violence, conditions around the planet have been continually improving … Discuss

 
There’s more to poverty than not having any money. Read More
 

Carol and Willie Fowler had spent a lot of time planning their daughter’s wedding, but after it was unexpectedly canceled at the last minute, the couple decided to turn the sad situation into an opportunity to help others. The family teamed with a local homeless-aid group called Hosea Feed the Hungry in Atlanta, and organized the first annual “Fowler Family Celebration of Love.” They hosted 200 members of Atlanta’s homeless community for a massive dinner party at the reception hall that was going to be used for the wedding, and fed them the four-course meal originally planned for the post-ceremony celebration. The Fowlers said, “Events are canceled, and sometimes for unknown reasons. Do not allow that opportunity to go to waste. Call up your favorite charity. Give them an opportunity to use that for people that will not have an opportunity, perhaps in life” … Discuss