Although it’s true that poverty exists everywhere, it’s easy to forget about it or become immune to it. Although I see people begging for the money or sleeping on the streets all the time in the States, I hardly ever give them much thought. I mean, “America’s the land of opportunity,” right? Why should I help them when they can just go get a job and fend for themselves? This might seem heartless, but that’s always been my attitude.
Now that I have been in Africa for a few days now, I’m starting to see poverty in a different light.
While it is true that some people choose to be poor by refusing to utilize the tools and resources they have at their disposal–other people can’t help being poor. Sometimes the only thing that separates the poor from the rich is the word “opportunity.” There are many people in this world who have the capability to do great things but lack the opportunity to do so.
It’s truly a tragedy.
But opportunity can be changed. It’s like a dirt path in a sense that it can be continually trampled upon, overgrown and abandoned or upgraded to pavement. The same is true with a person’s opportunities. There are many organizations out there like Kiva, World Vision and Hope International, who exist to provide people who were either born poor or who are just “down in their luck” with the resources to turn hard work into an opportunity to “upgrade” their standard of living.
So my original mentality towards the poor was half right and half wrong. I was right in the sense that people can get a job and work hard to get themselves out of poverty, but what I forgot to consider is the fact that someone has to hire them or give them the resources to finance their own start-up. That someone has to be those of us, that is those of us with the ability and the desire to sacrifice at times, for the sake of giving someone else the opportunity to succeed. That someone has to be me.
And all this from a little dirt path….