Saturday, September 6, 2014

7 September 2014

''Poverty is a state of mind, if someone wants to live in poverty then they will, if they don't then they will do their best to get out of it, seek help and support and access service providers to help them move beyond the bounds of poverty.'' Anonymous


   Poverty is defined as “the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; a condition of being poor.” But what does that really mean? And furthermore, is it always bad or can a condition of poverty be considered good? You might also ask, do those that others might say are in poverty, consider themselves to be in poverty? Does a condition of poverty, determine whether or not an individual is sad, depressed, and despondent or, in fact, happy, jovial, and content with his life?
   Looking back at my own life, the worldly possessions I recall our family having while I grew up were minimal. By societies standards were we living in poverty? I doubt it; at least I am confident we never considered ourselves to be impoverished. Much of what we had came by the industry of our hands.  In those days, while living on a ranch, everyone worked and contributed to help provide for the necessities of life regardless of their age. Life was good. We always had food, clothing and shelter, i.e., the basic necessities of life. We laughed and we played. Were there times when envy attacked us as we noticed what others had that we could not afford? Yes, but did that constitute poverty? No. Were there times my parents were worried about how to make the dollar stretch to meet their needs? Undoubtedly, the answer is yes but life, as I perceived it, was good.
   Do you have to be destitute to be in poverty? Is it possible that those who are, by societies standards, destitute don’t consider themselves to be in poverty? Could it be that there are those who are in definable poverty are content with living in poverty?
   The philosophers of the world fill endless reams of paper putting forth their views of poverty and the effects of it. And when all is said and done, what they say and think does not really matter much. Nor it is possible to make one shoe size to fit everyone. What one might call poverty, another might call affluence. My point is this, poverty, after all is said and done, is a relative entity. I have witnessed people in the Dominican Republic, Central America and here in South Africa living in the most modest of circumstances. Their homes are often no more than a tin shanty at best, without electricity or water which also eliminates many of the conveniences they offer. We have witnessed women packing water on their heads for more than a mile to their homes; men and women both packing a small bundle of sticks for miles just to provide a little heat for their home and cooking.  

   However, invariably, when you approach them or wave to them, there springs to their faces a bright smile. They are willing, no desirous, to share with you anything they have, including their last kernel of food.
   It became apparent to me in a very real way one day as we were waiting with a group of people for a meeting to start that the lack of earthly goods had very little to do with happiness. In this case, the person in charge of the meeting was late arriving (as is typical here). But instead of those assembled for the meeting getting up and walking out or murmuring, they, in what appeared one accord, started singing. There was no piano. No one stood to invite them to sing. Instead, they just began singing and they continued to sing for 45 minutes until the person in charge arrived. Their voices were loud and clear; they were happy and singing with a voice of joy and gratitude. There was no sign of “Woe me” displayed by these people of very meager means.
   Angie frequently points out that all she has to do is wave or smile at a person and they respond back with faces that brighten up and develop a broad smile. It could be the man selling newspapers on a cold, gloomy morning, the little old man and woman hoeing their garden or packing their burden along a well worn path, a greeting to any of those will always bring a smile. And if you really want to see them smile from ear to ear and stand proudly, all you have to do is ask for permission to take their picture. This is especially true with the children.
   With this backdrop in mind, we thought it would be enlightening to you, and fun for us, to collect a series of pictures that depicted what I have tried to describe above – poverty with a smile.


Lawn Mowing Business

Student From Sudan

Laundry Day

Attending Nursing School

Hand Made Dog Houses/Playhouses

Wood Working Business

That's All

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