Poverty alleviation and the Clinton Global Initiative

By Jean H Charles
Caribbean Net News
Published on Monday, October 13, 2008

Summer in New York City is a paradise for visitors who flock into the city from all over the world to bite into the Big Apple. They are regaled with a panoply of cultural activities (most of them free of charge) that inspire, instruct and enchant the most critical observers. The street fairs on Third Avenue compete with the ethnic cultural festivals on Sixth Avenue for the attention of the revelers every week-end. The Lincoln Center outdoor activities through its Heritage Sunday boldly comb the world to bring in voodoo dance from Haiti, candomble from Angola via Brazil and step Africa from Ivory Coast. The Philharmonic Orchestra still adorned with coattails for the matrons of Fifth Avenue take the road to play for the commoners in the public parks. The magic of the dim light of the moon provides a romantic setting for a perfect picnic on the grass.

Jean H Charles MSW, JD is Executive Director of AINDOH Inc a non profit organization dedicated to build a kinder and gentle Caribbean zone for all. He can be reached at:
At the end of the summer, New York City hosted the mother of all festivals. The Caribbean Carnival brought in diehard revelers from as far away as London and Toronto to participate into an orgy of debauchery that rivaled the setting of the Roman Coliseum. While the Carnival was in full force in Brooklyn, the US Open was raging in Queens. I have observed that you need an expense account a la AIG to secure a courtside seat. I have also observed that the gentlemen and the ladies are not dressing up as in the past for those afternoons that pretend to rival the elegance of Wimbledon.

Fashion Week could not wait for the end of the US Open to burst into full force in Bryant Park, as the sirens of the escorting police were ferrying Heads of States and Prime Ministers all over town preparing for the United Nations Annual General Assembly meeting. While the east side of Manhattan was reserved for the exclusive use of the diplomats, the West side of the City was the focus of the Sixth Annual Conference of the Clinton Global Initiative.

At the end of the week-long session, President Bill Clinton inspired the audience to reach into the better part of their soul to engage into making the world a better venue for those who are less fortunate. But let us go back at the beginning of the event to pierce into the underpinnings of the movement. Its mission statement is straightforward: “An initiative of the William J Clinton Foundation to address major global problems with a sense of a shared responsibility by turning ideas into actions.”

Indeed as a perfect orchestra conductor, President Clinton manages to engage major Fortune 500 corporations and their captains, universities, foundations, nonprofit organizations and volunteers to commit in the last three years major initiatives that have impacted the lives of:

11 million people in getting safe drinking water in Asia
8 million children with access to schooling.
3 million micro-entrepreneurs incubated by 270 microfinance institutions
30 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions reduction
3 million people getting access to clean energy services in the developing world.
The Clinton Global Initiative has secured in its short three years life “1000 commitments valued at more than $30 billion changing the lives of more than 200 million people in over 150 countries.”

I watched Bill Clinton introduce Matt Damon, Wyclef Jean, Kim Bassinger, with the stars basking in the adulation of a guru who succeeded in transforming their own self-centered motivation into giving a hand to the less fortunate as a privilege to be cherished.

The Clinton Global Initiative runs with the precision, the expertise and the protocol of a government in waiting except its jurisdiction and its reach is on the scale of the globe. In Afghanistan, the Global partnership is seeking partners for the farmer field school and the women’s horticulture enterprise. In Liberia, the Nike Foundation in concert with CGI has targeted the training of girls as a sustaining tool to the country’s development.

The highlight of the conference on its last day flashed upon Haiti. The Clinton Global Initiative has managed to secure 100 million dollars in reconstruction projects following the devastation of three successive hurricanes in the island nation.

The sages of the Norwegian Nobel Committee seek out the best and the brightest individuals to bestow upon one of them the most coveted human reward: the Nobel Peace Prize. Bill Clinton in his new life outside of the center of power deserves that distinction. He has earned the nomination because of his dedication to render life bearable for the wretched, the neglected of this earth, irrespective of their race, their religion and their geographical location. He said it himself, he has found his calling. The world is going into a difficult time. We definitely need the clowning of Bill Clinton on this earth to exterminate in our time, the squalor of extreme poverty.

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