Monday, August 15, 2011

Poverty's Mind

We often think of poverty in simple terms, as my friend pointed out recently; things you need but don't have.  While that's at least part of the truth, those who live in poverty don't necessarily think of it the same way.  When everyone lacks shoes, it's doesn't occur to you as a huge issue, I suppose.

The common thread we do hear from adults in such difficult circumstances, though, is their lack of a voice, of significance, of having options.  An African father who has nothing for his children said he was ashamed at his inability to provide; he had no worth or influence or significance.  No matter how hard he tries, nothing changes.

In the developed countries, so many options exist for work, for assistance, for relocation, for education, ... and of course for food and medical needs.  Poverty is perhaps understood by those who are in it as the lack of any such options.  No choice in the matter.  Powerlessness.

Children, like these here in a shoreline village, run to greet the visitor in their neighborhood.  They and their families are gracious and hospitable.  All work hard, every day.  Survival needs are met, but their parents struggle against difficult obstacles.

Members of the new Coast Guard and local
fishermen develop plans for safety, SAR, and
monitoring their national waters.
Their needs aren't material things particularly, at least not directly.  They're being robbed and lack the power to do anything about it.  Wealthy nations illegally over-fish their territorial waters, and they've depleted the area dramatically over the last couple of decades.  The fathers of these children are fishermen, and it has become difficult to feed their families because of the continuing theft.  They tell me they need help defending their waters. We can lend a hand with that.  And a lot more.  Easy stuff, really, and such a joy to have a chance to pitch in and help your friends.