Thursday, August 26, 2010

How Poor Poor Is

On my recent trip to South Asia, I was reminded once again just how poor really poor is. Per local custom, I usually sat in the front of the van (as the leader of the team), so I had lots of opportunities to talk with our driver, Dipon. He earns just over $2 a day, as a full-time driver for the Church of the Nazarene.
Before anyone cries out about injustice and exploitation, you should understand something about the reality of this country. If Dipon were single, this income would place him squarely in the upper class of his country (top 20% of incomes). As it is, this income is enough to provide for his family - even allowing his wife to stay home as a house wife. Granted, Dipon shares a three bedroom apartment with his parents and his brother's family. However, a reliable job paying $2 a day is enough to provide stable housing and food supply - something half of the country lacks.
50% of the country earns less than $1 a day. Before visiting, that just seemed like a bad number. However, after putting feet on the ground in $1 a day communities, I understand with new eyes just how poor $1 a day is. And less than that, as many of our widows and orphans earn, is ... well ... even less!
$1 a day probably means no shoes, or one pair of flip flops at best.
$1 a day means no warm clothes for the winter.
$1 a day means no umbrella when it rains.
$1 a day means not enough food almost every day of your life.
$1 a day means that if you don't work that day, you don't eat that day because you have zero savings from yesterday.
$1 a day means no medicine - none.
$1 a day means you can't afford the most basic fees to send your kids to school.
$1 a day means your kids will probably fail out of school because they are so far behind to start with.
$1 a day means you will be sorely tempted to make your kids work instead of going to school.
$1 a day means no concept of birth control.
$1 a day usually means abuse for women.
$1 a day usually means early marriages for teenage girls.
$1 a day means no land and almost no legal rights.
$1 a day means dodging unsafe vehicles traveling on unsafe roads at unsafe speeds.
$1 a day means taking care of other people's goats or cows instead of owning one for yourself.
$1 a day means hopelessness.

Unless someone helps.
I am so glad to be part of a church that is helping. I am so glad to be part of a denomination that is helping. I am so glad to be able to help a little myself. $1 a day is taking on a different meaning for about 100 widows and 300 orphans. Instead of a period, it is becoming a comma. Instead of the dead end after a hard-luck life, it is becoming a bend in the road with brighter skies around the corner. Instead of a death sentence, it is becoming a starting point for a whole new story.
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