Elinata Kasanga lives in Nguluka Village, Zambia. Elinata remembers a time in her village’s history when there was a lack of basic necessities. People couldn’t afford health clinic fees or school fees. Most villagers survived on one meal a day and on water from contaminated local streams. The lack of basic necessities was made worse by the fact that the government of Zambia owed billions of dollars to governments of wealthier countries. Money spent servicing debt payments, but failing to keep pace as the interest grew, was money not going to help the impoverished.
People around the world began to take action, with Christians at the forefront, believing it was unreasonable to enforce debt payments at the expense of basic necessities of life. Thus, the Jubilee 2000 campaign began, advocating for the cancellation of debts that impoverished nations could not afford to pay to richer countries in the Global North and to the World Bank, as a way to celebrate the millennium in the year 2000. The year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) was built upon the assumption that left unchecked, the social, political, and economic order would tear communities apart because of greed and unjust practices. Jubilee was a chance to hit reset, and Jubilee 2000 was a chance to apply that biblical principle in modern times.
More than 24 million people signed the Jubilee 2000 petition. Signatures, including thumbprints and email petitions, were collected from more than 155 countries. The petition was delivered to the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000. There were national organizations and campaigns in more than sixty countries, which lobbied, campaigned, protested, and educated. Activities varied from grassroots letter-writing campaigns targeting MPs, to national rallies with high-level celebrities, united by the symbol of human chains.
Jubilee 2000 succeeded in getting large amounts of debt canceled for qualifying countries, but it didn’t stop there. People around the world have continued to campaign, and since 1996, over $130 billion of poor countries’ debts have been canceled.
Because of this, the public health centers in Elinata’s community are now fully stocked with medicine and schools are free for grades 1 to 7. For the first time, Elinata and her community have access to clean water.