Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Majority

This is Nusrat; she's just 8 years old.  Her family is homeless in Mumbai, so she does her studies
on a sidewalk in the city, and she supplements the family income by rag picking.  Her family's
circumstances are not of their choosing; such inequality is done to you. Where she lives,
she is guaranteed a more difficult path, but still, she wants so badly to learn.
                                     Equality is not yet.  Nor is justice. 
We've been unable to locate the family.
Photograph: Arko Datta/Reuters 20070831

Worldwide, about 31 million girls of
primary school age aren't in school,
and about half the world's children
(about 1 billion) live in poverty.

White.  That's the only majority with which I've been affiliated, and we've had our moments.

I was walking on the beach with a staffer from the embassy in western Africa, and I was ruminating aloud on the problems associated with being white.  Meetings are awkward, relationships can be clumsy, and a straight answer is hard to get.  I said something like I wished I was black for such occasions.  My friend fell to the sand, laughing so hard he had difficulty breathing.  "You have no idea," he finally managed to say, laughing and wiping away tears, "how many times I've wished I was white, and for much the same reasons."

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't survive long in this world as one against whom discrimination is the daily norm. I don't think I could endure it. And I couldn't face a life where my children were guaranteed a more difficult path and where opportunity was bent in favor of some privileged group in which they weren't welcome.
But I would gladly live in a world where justice is real, especially for the children's sake.  Dear Father, especially for their sake.

Wouldn't you? So then, what might we do to make a difference?

Curious what life might be like in the real world?

2013 - Our friends were evicted again.  They were living on lands their tribe had owned and occupied for more than a century when the government sold it out from under them and bulldozed their homes.  They moved further into the tribal region and rebuilt their simple homes.  After a couple of years, the government did it again.  They'd sold the land to some wealthy folks.  Ethiopia did better; our friends there were relocated from their tribal lands but they were provided new apartments at low cost.

2014 - Our friend needed his secondary school transcript so he could go to trade school, but the official wouldn't give it unless he was paid a bribe.  He held out for awhile.  A local pastor, a reputable bishop, went to the office and firmly explained to the agent that he was to provide the transcript, which he finally did. (Kenya)  According to survey, the average Kenyan household pays 17 bribes per month for everything from getting their children a seat in school to getting a building permit.

2016 - A young fellow whom we've known since he was a kid found himself in a bind.  He and his partner had been granted 4 hectares (about 10 acres) of land to develop agriculturally.  After they had invested time and money for equipment and cleared the land, the new government minister rescinded the grant and confiscated their equipment.  They lost a couple of years work and all their savings. It's devastating for the extended family, and moving on is difficult.  (western Africa)

In America, if you're poor, you're probably trapped in it, but it's a different framework.  Minimum wage is about half of what it was intended to be, education is required but difficult to complete if you're poor, and advanced education is likely to indenture you for a decade or more.

Any ideas?

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