by Anita Sharma, North America Coordinator, UN Millennium Campaign

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I admit I was a little nervous about U.S. participation in the global Stand Up and Take Action mobilization. With less than a week to go, the annual effort to join millions worldwide in the fight against global poverty and for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is happening in the shadow of the biggest financial melt-down of my lifetime. But instead of withdrawing, people are coming together to show that we care about combating global poverty. At times like this it’s all the more important that we live up to our commitments and work harder to support those in need. In poor countries around the world, 50,000 children die each day of poverty-related causes, yet this crisis has not received the urgency or attention it demands. The economic crisis is having a dramatic impact on people who already struggle to survive grinding poverty and are the least able to cope with issues like high food and fuel prices.

But we know we can be the first generation to end extreme poverty. In 2000 world leaders got together at the United Nations and pledged to achieve the Millennium Development goals and outlined the shared responsibility to end poverty, disease and illiteracy and to protect our environment. We are more than half-way to 2015 and while tremendous achievements have been made, we still have a way to go. Challenges like the food and energy crisis, climate change and now the financial emergency, mean it’s more important than ever that we keep our promises.From the smallest villages to city streets, to sports events and political lobbies, the sheer diversity of actions is staggering. In the U.S., groups have organized dances, teach-ins, film screenings and prayer circles to raise awareness and urge people to take action. Last year, the event set a Guinness World Record, with nearly 44 million people from 127 countries standing up. Our goal is to top that number this year, mobilizing 1% of the world’s population, or 67 million people. People have asked how to get involved and take action. It’s really important to join an event or plan your own during the three days of action. You can register online and download the “event in a box,” materials to spread the word, print materials, and learn more. On the day of your event:

  1. Take a moment to explain STAND UP and ways for people to TAKE ACTION
  2. Everyone comes together and (if able) sits or kneels down.
  3. People in the crowd STAND UP in unison and take an action in unison. Some ideas include signing the ONE pledge, living on $2 for a day, writing a letter to you local paper, taking the MDG quiz, and reading the STAND UP pledge.
  4. Take videos, photos, and audio from your event and load it on the website.
  5. Make sure to count the number of people participating (you can estimate for big groups) and load it on the website by COB October 19, 2008 and we’ll report it to the Guinness Book of World Records!

If you haven’t registered to be counted there’s still time! We can show our friends world-wide that we are joining them in the fight against global poverty.

(cross-posted on On Day One)

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