This is a dissertation chapter on Poverty:
“When we touch the sick and the needy, we touch the suffering body of Christ.” In the World we live in today, many things go unnoticed that really should be focussed on to a greater degree. The history of Jesus Christ proves to Christians around the World that life in his time was much less complicated and people spent their time doing things for others rather than concentrating on themselves. Contrary to that time, today in Twenty First Century society, high tech advancements and technology have become the focus of most of the population and many people have forgotten the importance of lending a hand to someone who needs it. During Jesus’ time, the people had very little, yet they were able to help each other out better than citizen’s today seem to. One might believe that because of the booming technological advancements and economy today, the needy people would be receiving more help during this era, but sadly this is not the case. Yes, there is some aid to families of the Third World, but how much of that are the governments issuing? If the governments are issuing funding, how much is actually going to the direct necessities of the poor families, needs such as clean water, and shelter? There are many issues that revolve around poverty, specifically Third World poverty, but it is in analyzing these issues that will help lead to solving some of the problems – one step at a time. These many issues range from understanding what Third World poverty and absolute poverty is, where it occurs, what causes it, the stereotypes of the poor people and how the Third World helps out the First World.
Third World poverty is poverty found in poor countries such as Mexico, Haiti, South and East Asia and Africa, where families live in pitiful conditions, lacking food, clean water and health care. Absolute poverty is a term which relates to more than one fifth of the Third World population who live in “…conditions of life so characterized by malnutrition, illiteracy, and disease as to be beneath any reasonable definition of human decency.” This definition of absolute poverty is how many people of the Third World live and therefore it is easy to tell the degree of poverty in these countries.
The people affected by Third World poverty are those people living in the countries which are known for being poor. These people range in all ages, from new born children to elders, but they all have one thing in common, they all suffer. No matter what the age of someone suffering from poverty, each person lacks the necessities of life. For a young child, they may not be fed the right amount of food because their family barely has any and therefore it may affect them for the rest of their life. The child could grow up with growth problems, protein and nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition. For many middle aged children, education is sparse in poor nations, and therefore they may not receive the proper education. Children may go to school until they reach grade six or seven, and then be off to find farming jobs or stay at home to help with chores. On the rare occasion a child might continue education in high school, but that would only be in the circumstance of the family having enough money to send the child to school, which infrequently occurs. For adults, jobs are hard to find and therefore it is hard for parents to support their families and themselves. Health care could be a major downfall for elders living in the Third World because medical attention is very hard to find. If an elderly person became sick in a Third World country, by the time a doctor was able to see them, the person would probably be too sick for help. Age does not matter when the issue being discussed is poverty because all people of the world deserve the same necessities of life, no matter how old they are.
There is one certain group within Third World countries who are treated very poorly and receive unequal opportunity throughout life and this group is women. “ Women are the Third World’s powerhouse because they produce 60% of all food, run 70% of small businesses and make up a third of the official labour force – in addition to caring for families and homes. Although women do so much in the Third World, their status rarely reflects their contributions as they get the raw deal in education, health services, equal pay employment and access to land.” This shows that women play a very important and essential role in the developing nations, yet they are treated unfairly because of their gender.
Third World poverty occurs in many areas of the world sadly enough. These areas which poverty occurs are called developing countries and are countries located mostly in South America, Africa and Asia. These are not the only areas of the world that have poverty, but they are the areas where poverty is found. For the majority of people, their awareness of poverty and its occurrences are in countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, India and Ethiopia. Inside the actual countries where the poverty occurs, there are many different locations which the poor live in. The poor people live in places ranging from city streets to mountain tops, with Shantytowns and bare fields in between. Depending on the level of poverty that a person lives in, it determines where they live. If a person is very poor and cannot afford anything, they would probably build a hut on the top of a mountain and live off of what food they can grow themselves. If a family is poor but the children go to school and the husband has a low salary job, they probably would be able to afford living in a Shantytown or small
People very seldom understand why the poor are so poor, but there are many causes that once understood make a great deal of sense to the average person. There are causes which lie within the actual people, things such as disabilities and not being able to work because of having to stay home. All of these causes are directed at the people because they are not something which countries put on them. Despite the fact that some people cause their own poverty, the majority of poverty occurs because of many fixable problems. A great amount of poverty arises because of politics and the governments around the world. Although there may be wealthy nations in the world, those governments often ignore the fact that there are people starving and dying in their own countries. “ A lack of material wealth does not necessarily mean that one is deprived. A strong economy in a developed nation doesn’t mean much when a significant percentage ( even a majority) of the population is struggling to survive.
Development usually implies an improvement in living standards such that a person has enough food, water, clothing, stable social environment, freedom, equitable ownership of land, basic rights etc, to have a fair chance for a decent life. However, when political agendas deprive these possibilities in some nations, how can a nation develop? Politics have led to dire conditions in many poorer nations. In many cases, international political interests have led to a diversion of available resources from domestic needs to western markets.” As the above quote describes, a great deal of poverty in Third World countries can be blamed on politics and the governments.
There is obviously a large problem when governments of First World nations know that “…to satisfy all the world’s sanitation and food requirements would cost only $13 billion, hardly as mush as the people of the United States and the European Union spend each year on perfume” yet the governments do nothing to inform people of these statistics and try to make an effort to change this absurdity. Another large cause of Third World poverty is called the Third World Debt Crisis and basically this is what the LDC’s (less developed countries) owe the First World. The Third World Debt Crisis outlines statistics such as “… in 1997, the total debt stock owed by the developing world to the developed world was $2.17 trillion, up from $1.4 trillion in 1990. Each day, developing countries pay the rich nations $717 million in debt service. Every baby born in the developing world owes $482 at birth.” These statistics from Third World Debt Crisis show how poor the developing nations are, but even though they may receive some funding and aid from rich nations, they have to put the money towards paying their way out of debt. In other words, if a rich county gives a developing country money to help out, the developing country would have to put that money towards paying back the $717 million they owe per day to rich nations. This is another reason why the poor people receive hardly any funding, and that is because when aid is sent over to poor countries meant to go to impoverished families, it ends up being taken by the governments because they are so desperate to pay back the debt they owe to the First World. It is very important for people of First World countries to understand the real reasons why the Third World is so poor because in today’s society there are many unfair judgements and stereotypes of poverty in the Third World.
Third World poverty is an issue that has become apparent to many First World citizens, but there are still many stereotypes of the poor people and families which are unjust. Some citizens believe that poor people “…are lazy and don’t want to work, they are so poor because they have too many kids and that the poor should have taken advantage of the education offered to them because then they wouldn’t be where they are today.” These are stereotypes which are heard of quite often and are not accurate in reality. First, the poor people living in Third World countries are far from being lazy as they live a much more demanding and physical life than the people of rich countries. Second, people of LDC’s have so many kids not because of mistakes, but because life is so hard, the more children parents have the easier the workload will become as the children get older. Lastly, many people living in poverty never receive the chance at education because it is either too expensive, it is not offered to them or they had to remain at home to help with household demands. No matter what the comment or stereotype a person makes about poverty, most likely the person making the comment has no real understanding of what life is really like for the poor and why the people live the way they do.
Although there are many poor countries throughout the world, who owe tremendous amounts of money to rich countries, the poor nations do help out the rich in many ways. A Hershey Chocolate bar for example is made by many products that come from the Third World. “…the sugar might come from Latin America, cocoa beans may be from Nigeria, Ghana or west Africa, the nuts in the bar could be from Sudan in Africa and the fuel needed for the transportation of the bars probably comes from Third World nations, because they provide 56% of the worlds oil.” The Third World also provides many rich countries with most of their coffee grains and other food products. Needless to say, although the poor nations may not have a great deal of money, the rich nations need to realize what the poor does for them and perhaps supply the needy with more aid.
One might think that with so much proof of there being a great deal of poverty in the world, that governments might do something to change it. So often people have seen the US government put millions of dollars towards war and machinery to kill people or the Canadian government spend millions of dollars on infrastructure and technology. If the governments can spend so much money on material things, why cant they spend money on feeding hungry people? Do the political leaders of the world need more statistics to prove there is a large problem? There are many statistics to determine there is a problem and all of them should be taken into consideration. “ Currently 1.3 billion people in the world live on less than $1.00 US a day, women account for more than 70 percent of the world’s poor, less than two percent of poor people have access to financial services, more than 90 percent of the world population growth is occurring in less developed regions and forty eight million children and women are victims of war, natural disaster, extreme poverty and others forms of violence and exploitation.” All of these statistics are very disturbing as it is proof of the levels of exploitation, helplessness and the need for something to be changed.
There is obviously a great deal of poverty in this world, but what is anyone doing to change it? There are many groups around the globe that help fundraise money and go to poor nations to help the needy, but obviously that is not enough. Much of the problem lies in the hands of the governments because “people assume that governments are interested in growth and development. But many government leaders are interested mainly in personal aggrandizement and in helping their group over another group.” In order to change the poverty problems occurring around the globe, many things will have to change, including the lifestyles of people living in rich countries. It is unfair to have so many people living off of practically nothing and other people make millions of dollars. The only real way to make a difference in this world is for the people of rich nations to be educated about Third World poverty and for people to change the way they live. If citizens of the First World would conserve water usage and limit their waste, then many of the lives of people living in developing countries could be enhanced. It is time for people to start living with compassion and love, that includes citizens of the world and leaders of our governments, maybe then more lives would be saved.
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