It’s a promise being made to a part of the world where life and death can lie just a few inches from each other. It is a pledge to help end poverty, achieve universal education, reduce child mortality rates, and much more—all by 2015 in Africa and 2025 globally.
According to Millennium Promise, a nonprofit organization with a multi-pronged objective aimed at ending extreme global poverty, these are the cold, hard facts:
- More than one billion people around the world live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1 a day.
- Every 10 seconds, an African child dies of malaria.
- Across the globe, more than 800 million people go to bed hungry every night.
- Every year more than 10 million children die before their fifth birthday from preventable diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia.
- Every day more than 20,000 people die because they are too poor to stay alive.
To help with its fight, Millennium Promise, co-founded by economist Jeffrey Sachs, has joined up with Malaria No More in working to achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, to make inroads toward a solution to cut extreme poverty. The organization has implemented a number of poverty-fighting initiatives including Millennium Villages, a cluster of communities arranged in twelve groups stretching across 10 countries in Africa. These villages have been engineered to facilitate needs by offering solutions, which help to create and maintain a localized infrastructure. According to The Earth Institute at Columbia University, these solutions can come in the form of medicines and other resources such as drinking wells and materials to help construct schools and clinics. The initiative has reached approximately 400,000 people across 79 villages.
To help raise the public’s awareness to the Millennium Promise’s cause, several well-known jazz musicians recently come together to lend their talents to a CD called “Promises Made,” which will be sold at major retailers as a fundraising effort. With musical direction led by saxophonist Kirk Whalum and pianist Takana Miyamoto, featuring George Duke, Take 6, and others, the 11-track project is set to be released by Koch Records in September.
“It was very organic to [get] involved in a philanthropic effort,” says Whalum, an artist-in-residence at the Stax Music Academy in Memphis, Tennessee. “By virtue of this recording…we’re creating music with a specific and profound purpose…If we work together, according to Jeffrey Sachs’ calculations, we can actually end extreme poverty.” The 11 music selections are covers of popular, social commentary-driven songs from the ’60s and ’70s by artists such as Ben E. King, Curtis Mayfield, and Marvin Gaye.
“When I say extreme poverty,” Whalum adds, “we’re talking about people who are not on the ladder of economic growth at all…These are people who worry about today…If we end poverty by 2025, it’s going to be because of what we’re doing now.”
All net proceeds from the CD’s sales will go to Millennium Promise in its mission to end poverty, says Norbert Simmons, an investment banker and philanthropist who