The idea of what pushes someone over the poverty line seems to be the perception of the society that raised you. This week I reflected on poverty in America and what that truly means to us. It often means living under a certain income (currently $24,250 for a household of 4 people), attending soup kitchens, or using food stamps or other government programs in order to assist the poor. What I came to realize is that what we consider poverty and what other countries (specifically South Africa) consider poverty are two fairly different levels of poverty. In South Africa, poverty does not mean that you fall under a certain income every year, or that you cannot not afford new clothes. Poverty quite literally means that your home is made of mud floors. It means that in order to get food for your family you must either kill it, or grow it. It means that many families cannot afford to send their toddlers to preschool for 150 Rand per month (150R=11USD).
We had the opportunity to speak with Medisi, who is one of our in-country coordinators that lives in the township Joe Slovo. He told us that most families get 1,410 Rand per month, which is $104.66. This is what a family of four gets per month from the government which totals $1255.92 per year. What is sad is that for many families this is their only source of income. With unemployment rates as high as they are, many young men and woman spend their days drinking instead of working because the idea of “hope” is gone. I mean, how sad is that. For anyone to have no hope in life is just incredibly depressing to see from the outside looking in. Regardless of money, or housing, or food, it seems that every human on earth deserves to have hope, yet by some power, many of these men and woman have lost just that which seems to be a widespread problem, to me at least. These are simply my thoughts in regards to poverty, and while the situation cannot be fixed overnight, I do not see why we cannot help today’s children achieve greater things than their parents or grandparents, and escape the lives that many of their elders live in.