Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Pervasiveness of Poverty

Posted on behalf of Erin Fitzgerald

Poverty transcends borders. It’s not bound by language, culture or race. And it’s merciless.

As we drove through neighborhoods in Santiago, Dominican Republic, this week, we could have been driving in any number of communities Children International serves in Latin America.

We walked along dirt roads with typical tiny shacks cobbled together with scrap wood and pieces of corrugated metal. As usual, we spotted children wandering barefoot over trash-strewn streets where animals like dogs, cats and chickens ran freely.

When we entered the homes of our sponsored families, we found what we usually do – a couple beds, a table, a few chairs and not much else. The more fortunate families have a decent bathroom, a stove to cook on and access to clean water. Others go without.

The struggles poor people in Santiago face aren’t unique. They’re the same challenges that families in our agencies across the globe face. They long for decent work so they can adequately feed their children. They struggle with common health conditions like parasites and respiratory infections that unhygienic living conditions breed. And they wish they had money for the little extras that bring so much joy – like a simple gift to celebrate a birthday.

Despite the overwhelming obstacles these families face, they make the most of what they are given and are overwhelmed with gratitude at the support sponsorship provides – medical care, gifts for special occasions and educational programs. I’ve heard more words of thanks on this trip than I can count. These families don’t long for money or success but simply for the tools to achieve a decent way of life and ultimately help others like them.

As Leidy, a sponsored youth served by our Santiago agency explained to me, “It’s not about getting a job where I can have a big house, get rich and have lots of cars. It’s more about helping other people and being able to give back.”

There’s no doubt that poverty is pervasive and indiscriminate. Let’s hope that when we finally put a stop to it, the cure will be too.


Betsemes said...

Leidy? I assume her name is not Leidy Altagracia. It'd be too much coincidence.....

Anonymous said...

Wow what a great job you guys have done! It makes me feel good to know that I'm helping a needy child
and she's doing much better now:D

artk said...

I am so impressed with the work CI has done to fight poverty and to give these children some of the advantages they would not have without your help. I'm so happy and grateful that I have, and taken, the opportunity to help a needy child. Thank you.