Many live, die and languish in misery; too weak to resist, as they are bled dry of life. They seem vulnerable: most are locked in a daily struggle for survival. They are often malnourished, and their children go to bed hungry.
Hari, a south Asian farm laborer, painted with words and poetic eloquence the grim life and death cycle around him, stated Awake Nov. 22 1995: “ Between the mortar and the pestle”, he said, "the chilies couldn’t last. We poor are like chilies each year; we are ground down and soon there will be nothing left’’. A few days later, Hari was dead – another victim of crushing poverty.
Poverty is like slavery. Most people would like to think so. The very word conjures up horrific pictures of hunger, exploitation and lacking. The terrible nature, or the extreme of it is abject poverty; while relative poverty is a moderate or fairly high degree, especially compared to abject poverty.
The state of existing with such minimal ends; too small to buy one's basic needs, could be traced to quite a number of factors. War could be very devastating: it brings almost everything to a halt. That means work is brought to a standstill; trade is disrupted, and inflation is guaranteed. In situations like these, one could have very little money for their needs, and in most cases, go without many things.
Death of either parent could cause a drastic drop in family income, as well as in one's standard of living. Most people, especially children, have been exploited, abused and violently attacked due to this living situation. Others have been forced to drop out of school and work in very hazardous and dangerous workplaces. In addition, many are dying a slow death from handling poisons and toxic wastes.
While some are naturally physically disabled, others are impoverished due to other factors. While it is difficult for someone who is physically fit to secure a decent job and be well paid, it’s almost impossible for the physically disabled to secure one in my local government. Granted, everyone preaches that they should not be discriminated against; but in reality, employers see them as inefficient. Even if they find a job, they will be grossly underpaid.
While others argue that illiteracy is a contributing factor to poverty, I strongly believe that it’s not illiteracy, but ignorance. If illiteracy were to be one of the causes of poverty, professors and scholars in different fields of study would be the richest. When someone is aware of what it will take them to make money and be comfortable, the person will pursue it.
The health state of so many determines their standard of living. While so many are bedridden and can no longer work, or even have access to welfare services; so many others spend their little hard earned money on drugs. To manage some illnesses can be quite expensive, such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes. The dependants of the sick person, as well as their beneficiaries, will all suffer a drastic drop in their standard of living. In extreme cases, their dependants will be looked upon to provide funds for the rescue of the life of the ill person.
A few people do not like to work; simply put, they are lazy. They do as little as possible: they are satisfied with the food they can fetch themselves and if not; they can’t do otherwise. The society is a highly competitive one: survival of the fit; elimination of the unfit.
Greedy and oppressive legislation by the government is one of the major contributing factors to poverty. They devise legislation that will only suit their selfish desires at the expense of the masses. They want to emance more wealth at all costs. The government embezzles public treasuries, and fails to disburse the resources allocated to the people. Some of those at the corridors of power sabotage the government. In fact, there is a mess of the polity all at the expense of the helpless masses.
All these and many more would account for many feeling frustrated and worthless, seeing little or no prospect of escaping their wretched lives. Child prostitution thrives in an environment of misery and poverty. In order to get something to eat, many may take to stealing and on many occasions sell their body. Next, children become professional prostitutes. Street children resort to prostitution because they see it as their only means of survival. For their male counterparts, those who can’t stand poverty, turn to thuggery (tout) and robbery as the next option. So many deviant and criminal acts are perpetrated just to improve ones standard of living. Some commit suicide when they can no longer cope with the hardship any more. Most untimely deaths are due to poor health care services and poor standard of living.
“Where poverty exists, there is not true freedom”, said Mandela, who wore a white strip of cloth around his wrist. “The world is hungry for action not words. I am proud to wear the symbol of this global cause to action”. These are the words of one of the world’s great leaders.
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Jude C Munaonye
Jude C Munoanye, Coordinator.
Living Hope Organization.
c/o Room 34/36 Ministry of Health, P M B 7215 Umuahia, Abia State.
E-mail: [email protected]
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