The Face of Poverty

face of poverty

Poverty, in every part of the world, is simultaneously a painfully private and an embarrassingly public condition of life. The privileged and underprivileged are largely distinguished by their ability to meet simple, diurnal needs, gain access to higher education, secure affordable and safe shelter, and participate equitably in civic duties.

Beneath and adjacent to the glittering skyscrapers in major cities throughout the world are those living in abject poverty. Families of six stuffed inside one room; children unable to attend school for lack of fees; children dropping out of school to work; lack of access to clean water and clothing; inadequate healthcare and social services; a dearth of jobs or the loss of livelihoods; the accompanying despair and loss of human dignity; these are some of the realities faced by the underprivileged, and it cuts across all socio-economic levels. Some rich people have faced misfortunes and lost everything they possessed, while others were born into and have struggled to overcome poverty all their lives. Poverty can stare into the face of almost anyone.

Poverty is an affliction; it is an incapacitating disability; and it is a worldwide reality. Thousands of charity organizations and NGOs work throughout the world to alleviate and/or eradicate poverty. Poverty persists, nevertheless. Policy reorientation may be useful in guiding the next decade of humanitarian work to focus on targeting the root causes of poverty, anticipating and preempting disasters and disease outbreaks, teaching families about birth control, constructing more and more affordable housing, providing food and creating jobs.

For instance, rather than feeding homeless children and women on the streets daily, a durable approach would be to put these women to work in factories, like bottling companies, textile industries, or giving them small market stalls and funds to start small-scale trading or farming.

By working from inside out, from the remotest corners of the world to the inner cities, government agencies and charity organizations can change the face of poverty.

Margaret A. Benedict
Benedict International, Inc.

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