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It’s easy to forget the people who struggle to live on less than a dollar a day when we are blinded by today’s materialistic society. Living in America, I don’t see a lot  poverty; I know it exists but I never think about it until someone talks about it.

Many times on TV I’ve seen commercials showing families who are living in horrifying conditions. The commercials then ask for a donation. I’ve felt sympathetic for all those who are suffering, but at the same time it has seemed unreal to me.

This changed for me last spring when I was in Mexico. My family and I were in a tourist area for lunch. As we sat at our table we saw a small boy around the age of 7 walking around with a box tightly grasped in his small hands. He had no shoes and his clothes were faded and torn. I watched the young boy walk from person to person asking for money while everyone said no. I felt really bad for this boy who walked barefoot on the hot ground, just to be declined money over and over again.

I got some money from my mom and walked over to the boy. The smile that appeared on his face was priceless.

Now, whenever I hear of such conditions, I think of this small boy. I have a desire to help those like him live a better life, and the Aga Khan Foundation has helped me achieve this goal without having to wait until I was older or richer.

Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. (AKF USA) is a nonprofit organization that helps fight against global poverty in many different ways. One way to bring these efforts to the attention of Americans is Partnership Walk, an annual event to raise awareness and funds,  to help the people in the impoverished areas of the world. One hundred percent of the donations raised go directly to projects supported by Aga Khan Foundation. So every penny you give helps somebody who really needs it. The reason I choose to support this organization is because I know that the contributions don’t just go to help people as a hand-out for a certain amount of time. Donations are used to help people become independent and self-reliant for the rest of their lives. One of AKF USA’s main goals is to educate all those who are deprived from it. For example, in Afghanistan Aga Khan Foundation is benefitting 90,000 children by working with communities to establish community schools for those who are economically disadvantaged and geographically remote. This is especially important for Afghan girls who have had limited opportunities for education.

To help these people I joined the YouthInAction team, which helps raise awareness and funds for AKF USA. As a group of about 15 Bay Area high school students, we manage a variety of projects to spread awareness about the organization, fundraise, and contribute to the Walk itself. Our YouthInAction team coordinates a kid’s corner with many different games. Also, we have planned a talent and fashion show for our supporters. At Partnership Walk, families can have a lot of fun and, at the same time, support projects that improve the lives of marginalized families who strive to improve their living conditions. I’m proud to be on this team because I know that I am doing what I can to help the needy. Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. gives a chance to everybody who wants to help.

I hope you can join us so that together we can be the change we want to see and end global poverty!

Sunday, Oct. 9, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Central Park, Lake Elizabeth, 40204 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont. Free. sanfrancisco@partnershipwalk.org.http://www.PartnershipsInAction.org/walk.

Gohar Jaffer is a 10th-grader at Monte Vista High School who joined the Partnership Walk in 2009. She has been an active participate in YouthInAction since 2010.

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