Travel Story 1: Shenzhen China
I remember the exact moment I became concerned for life in the developing world. I was visiting Shenzhen, a city in Mainland China one hour north of Hong Kong. Twenty years ago Shenzhen was a sleepy fishing village. Today, it is lined with skyscrapers and expensive cars. Despite its veneer of wealth and luxury, there is a huge population of extremely poor people in Shenzhen.
While walking down one of the side streets, I noticed a young woman with a blanket in her lap, and a tipped over trashcan at her side. She was pulling garbage from the trashcan and placing it into her blanket.
As I got closer, I noticed she was being very selective about what she took from the trash. In fact, she was being almost gentle.
A moment later, I saw what she was really doing. She was rooting through the garbage for scraps of rice and fish. When she found some, she didn’t place them into her blanket. She placed them into the mouth of her newborn baby who was wrapped in the blanket.
Take a moment to let that sink in. Amidst a city teeming with money and industry, this woman lived in poverty so desperate, that she was forced to rifle through the trash just to feed her infant.
Though this scene took place back in 2006 in China, scenes like it still exist today in nearly every country. In fact the UN just reported that today’s rate of hungry people is the highest in recorded history.
When I saw this woman feeding her baby, I wanted to make a difference in her life. I wanted to end this suffering and pain, but I had no idea how to go about doing so. The problems she faced seemed so big to me, that they were completely unapproachable. At that time, I couldn’t even begin thinking about the large-scale problems of our world. Though I was desperate to, I felt completely powerless to make the world an even slightly better place.
Since then I’ve realized two important things about making the world better. No single person alone can save the world; the problems are simply too profound and complex to be solved by an individual. However, nearly every person does have the power to improve the quality of life on earth through helping other people. During my presentation “Changing the World 101” I explain exactly how you can harness your power as an individual and begin creating a better world. At some point, perhaps even within our lifetime, we may be able to create a planet where scenes like the one described above, are extinct.