Poverty Resources

it is so hard to realise what poverty really is with so many support structures around us. The West is not free from tragedy nor hardship but the contrast to the 2/3 majority world is enormous. In this section we would like to give you some stories of poverty from ours and others experiences. This will be updated from time to time.
 
We suggest you read these from time to remind yourself of the other reality in this world. If you are teaching why not ask small groups to put themselves in one or more of these positions then comment on how these situations may affect their :- hope for the future, ability to save, fear/respect of authority, schooling of children, leaning toward violent solutions, motivation to work, desire to steal or seek revenge, ability to go work (some questions may not apply to each situation)
We will also add some satirical articles here for use in youth groups or any setting where a light hearted touch is needed to bring home some realities of the poor.
 
Where: Costa Rica
When: 1980s
Context: Juan worked on a banana plantation. His main job was to inject a chemical called DBCP into the ground around the banana plants to kill a worm like parasite. The chemical was often spilt onto his skin. Juan knew nothing of the dangers of this chemical in complete contrast to the producers who knew about sterility issues with DBCP as far back as the 1960s. The plantation owners also came to know of the problems but kept on using it. Come the time for Juans wife Maria, to have her first born baby the troubles began. Their son was born with a head four times the size of his body with a sickly green skin. He died some months later. Maria found out that she was one of 3,500 women in Costa Rica whose babies were born with abnormalities who had been subject to this chemical. In November 2007, after decades of court cases, Shell, Dow Chemicals and Occidental Chemical as well as three banana giants paid out $3.3 million in compensation to just three farmers. Many others have received paltry “no liability” payments while ongoing medical problems haunt them. The ability of some large companies to count people as mere commodities, is the reason why many will continue to live in poverty.
 
Quoted from the book “Fighting the Banana Wars” by Harriet Lamb
 
 
Where: Kivu, DR Congo
When: 2009
Context: This story documents the fragile existence of women in the midst of poverty and war. The neglect of her husband in not providing the most basic duty of care for her has plunged her into deep poverty. Scroll down to the full story at the bottom of this page which was originally copied from a CNEC partners release. Find them at http://www.cnecpi.com.au
 
War and abuse of power and responsibility is one reason why Nabwami will struggle to make ends meet.
 
Where: Dhaka, Bangladesh
When: 1976
Context: A lady has a small business making bamboo chairs and barely earns US 2 cents per day. Read this article to see the power that debt has over the poor and how Mohammad Yunus began his first steps in microfinance. One day he met an impoverished single mother of three named Sufia Begum, working to weave bamboo stools, morning to night whilst living in utter destitution.
 
“Do you own this bamboo?” he asked her.“Yes”.
 
“How do you get it?” “ I buy it.”
 
“ How much does the bamboo cost you?” “5 Taka” (22 cents US).
 
“Do you have 5 Taka?” “No, I borrow it from the Paikars.”
 
“The middlemen?” he asked. “What is your arrangement with them?” Scroll down to the full story below. 
 
Where: Mogabiri, Tanzania
When: 1998
Context: In the high country of Tanzania certain multi national and other interests have encouraged coffee crops to be grown.
 
It is harvest time at last. Once the harvest is brought in and sold Yusufu can buy some new tools for the farm, stock up on food and buy new uniforms for the kids. The rep from the multi national beverage producer has turned up again but this time it will be different. No acceptance of a lower price will be had as a co-op has been formed and it is strong. The same old arguements go on. The man from the beverage factory wants a ridiculous price that will bring him vittually zero profit for his toil. The co-op stands strong until the rep throws up his hands and gets in the car as if he has been pushed too far. He knows that further down the road he will be stopped by one of the co-op members, wanting to do a deal on the side as this year has been tough. The unfair price is agreed upon, and one by one the others hear and cave in. Something is better than nothing, after all.
 
This is one of the means by which Yusufu will stay in poverty. 
 
 
Where: Musoma, Lake Victoria, Tanzania
When: 2000.
Context: Fisherman dealing with a international exporter. Originally told to us by a worker at the factory.
 
Day after day the fisherman has brought his load into the fish factory which exports Nile Perch to the West. He has been told that his money will be paid when it becomes available. He argues a little but is used to this. Come the time that the money is available the factory manager scans his finger over the record of the kilos and kilos of fish than he has brought in and gives him the final figure. The fisherman, who is illiterate, argues the point as he is sure the figure is as much as triple the amount. The argument gets heated but for the manager it is all a show. He knows, as does the fisherman, that if this goes to the police the man in gaol that night would be the fisherman. The manager has far more standing and bribery fire-power than the fisherman. He would then be under extra pressure to pay bail and be subject to the usual abuses of prison life. All this while his boat is sitting idle and his family go backwards financially. The fisherman backs down and accepts the total. The next day his catch is delivered to the same factory.... these are the means by which this man is kept in poverty.
 
 
Where: Musoma, Tanzania
When: 2000.
Context: Viazi, a single man, is trying to earn a living by bringing produce to the city on his bike.
 
Day in day out Viazi makes the long ride to the village in order to get the produce he knows has a market in the city. The margins are small as he on sells to the sellers in town and they must also make their money. With a wide sack tied on the back of his bike Viazi knows he must ride very carefully and get off the road if a truck is coming. He does this with skill but one day a truck is travelling at speed and recklessly ploughs into the sack that Viazi is carrying. Viazi and his bike are catapulted forward, somersaulting over and over, causing massive injuries. The truck speeds on. Viazi lies there bloody and broken beside his crumpled bike. Thankfully a mini bus (daladala) has seen the “accident” and picks Viazi up and carries him to the town hospital. Thankfully again, Viazi has an uncle on the staff there so the usual bribes are done away with to admit him.
 
Two years late Viazi is still hobbling about but has just started trying to ride again. He has been supported by his uncle up to now but must try and make his way. Tanzanian law demands that a vehicle causing an accident like this should be impounded til the case is settled and compensation paid. The truck was seen on the road within two days and no compensation had come Viazis way. When I quizzed him on why he had not sought this I was told that the owner of the truck was a wealthy well connected man in town and that any attempt o fight him on this would see Viazi in deep trouble.
This is one reason why Viazi may never make it out of poverty.
 
 
Where: Musoma, Tanzania
When: 1999.
Context: Yohana has an Aunty who has severe pain and needs him to take her to the hospital.
 
In Tanzania, when your Aunty calls, “no time right now” is never the answer you give. If she is sick and you are the number one cousin, or most nearby, it is your job to go to the Tanzanian bank i.e. to inform the relatives and to beg them to see how much they can find under the mattress, cause that rainy day is here! Yohana did this well and found 20,000 shillings. Now the path to care must be walked. The minibus (daladala) to town was 1,000 shillings. The admitting nurse needed 2,000 (a bribe, though she is paid a wage) because she has her struggles too. The admitting doctor also wanted 2,000 shillings (a bribe, though he is also paid a wage). Yohana ran around town to buy surgical gloves, sutures and medicine for the operation, totalling 10,000 shillings. Having done this he returned to the hospital to negotiate with the operating doctor. He said he would settle on 8,000 shillings minimum as a combo deal of bribes and operating costs. After a long argument Yohana and the relatives gave up and brought Aunty home to try some traditional medicine. These are the means by which Yohana and his family may never bank on receiving good health care and may always be in poverty.
 
 
EXTENDED STORY DETAILS FROM ABOVE
Where: Kivu, DR Congo
When: 2009
Context: This story documents the fragile existence of women in the midst of poverty and war. The neglect of her husband in not providing the most basic duty of care for her has plunged her into deep poverty. Originally copied from a CNEC partners release. Find them at http://www.cnecpi.com.au
War and abuse of power and responsibility is one reason why Nabwami will struggle to make ends meet.
My name is Nabwami Namihonga, I am 38. I come from Ufamando, a village located in the territory of Masisi, in Nord Kivu, I arrived here on Thursday, 04 March 2010.
 
I am married, and I had 8 children, but only two are alive right now. Two died as a result of the war; the others died through illness. I have two boys left. The oldest is eighteen, and the youngest is thirteen, and they still go to school. The eldest is in his third year of teaching school, while the other is in his sixth year of primary school. While I am here, the children stay with their father
family.
 
I am here at HEAL Africa, because my foot is wounded, and needs to be operated on. But there are also many other issues due to the sexual abuse I was a victim of. It happened in September 2009. You know, the school year starts in September here, in D.R.C. As my husband and I didnt have enough money to prepare the school year for our two sons, I had decided to go to the field to cut some bananas, make the traditional drink, and sell it to the market to cover for the school fees. Due to the lack of security in our forests, caused by the F.D.L.R. presence, I had asked my husband to join me to the field. Unfortunately, he had refused. He had preferred to stay in the village and play Mangula (an African game similar to Chinese Checkers), as men usually do in our village.
 
So, another woman from the village, also with financial difficulties, joined me. Once in the field, about 10 F.D.L.R. guerrilla turned up. The other woman had spotted them from a distance, and had fled without telling me. The F.D.L.R. men said, “Tembo women are proud, we have to hurt her much before raping her”. This is why I was stabbed in the foot, with their bayonet, and then raped.
 
It was the men from the village, who came to pick me up, and take me back to the village. When my husband heard the news, he told me I must already be infected with a deadly disease, and, as a consequence, he would not live with me anymore. He packed up his things and left. He is currently in Walikale, a neighboring territory.
After 6 weeks, I knew I was pregnant, a pregnancy as a result of this rape. Two days after the rape, a health worker from the village next door gave me first aid, and sewed the wound on my foot, and that was all the treatment Id received, as there is no hospital or health centre in our village or surrounding area. If there, I could have gotten medicine that could have saved me from this pregnancy. It is now 4 and a half months old.
A son of my brother, called Matata, lives here in Goma, and knows HEAL Africa and their programs quite well. While he was visiting the village, he advised me to come here to get appropriate treatments. My family got me from my village up to the Ngungu village in Massisi, and from there I was brought to Sake, where a HEAL Africa vehicle picked me up. The doctors, in charge of me here, say my foot must be operated on, but before this can happen I have to take some medicine for a while.
 
Today is the 8 March, International Womens Day. I can see many joyful women, but I am not joyful, as I suffer. I do know that back in my village there is no celebration for women, as when there is no peace, there is no celebration. Women keep running away and they spend the night outside, in the bush.
 
I believe only God can end our current sufferings, as men havent been able to do so."
 
 
Where: Dhaka, Bangladesh
When: 1976
Context: A lady has a small business making bamboo chairs and barely earns US 2 cents per day. Read this article to see the power that debt has over the poor and how Mohammad Yunus began his first steps in microfinance. Originally taken from http://oneworldonepeople.org/ 
 
Professor Muhammad Yunus was a highly respected Head of the Economics Department at Chittagong University, Bangladesh.
 
In 1974 a terrible famine gripped Bangladesh and skeleton like people began to flood into the capital Dhaka. This caused Professor Yunus to feel empty inside. He used to get excited about teaching how economic theories provided answers to 
 
Grameen Micro-Credit is based on the premise that the poor have skills that remain un-utilised or under-utilised. It is definitely not the lack of skills, which make poor people poor.
 
economic problems of all types. But what were the use of theories when all around him, people were dying of starvation. Where did poverty fit into the economics equations?
 
So Professor Yunus decided to take a worms eye view of a local village – Jobra, so he could learn about village life in person. The Poor would become his teachers and the village his university of the real world.
 
One day he met an impoverished single mother of three named Sufia Begum, working to weave bamboo stools, morning to night whilst living in utter destitution.
 
“Do you own this bamboo?” he asked her.
 
“Yes”.
 
“How do you get it?”
 
“ I buy it.” 
 
“ How much does the bamboo cost you?”
 
“5 Taka” (22 cents US).
 
“Do you have 5 Taka?”
 
“No, I borrow it from the Paikars.”
 
“The middlemen?” he asked. “What is your arrangement with them?”
 
“I must sell my bamboo stools back to them at the end of the day so as to repay my loan. That way what is left over to me is my profit" 
 
“How much do you sell it for?”
 
“Five Taka and 50 Paisa.”
 
“So you make 50 Paisa profit?"
 
She nodded. That came to a profit of just over 2 US cents.
 
"And could you borrow the cash and buy your own raw material?"
 
"Yes but the money lender would demand a lot. And people who start with them only get poorer."
 
“How much do the money lenders charge?”
 
“It depends. Sometimes they charge 10 percent per week. I even have a neighbour who is paying 10 percent per day".
 
“And that is all you earn from making these beautiful bamboo stools, 50 Paisa?
“Yes.”
The Professor watched as Sufia set to work again, because she did not want to lose any time, her small brown hands plaiting the strands of bamboo as they had every day for months and years on end.
He had never heard of someone suffering so much for the lack of 22 US cents. The Professor thought Sufias status as virtually a bonded slave was never going to change if she could not find that five taka to start with. Credit could bring her that money. She could then sell her products in a free market and she could get a much better spread between the cost of her materials and her sale price.
 
The next day he had a list made of how many people in Jobra, like Sufia, were borrowing from traders and missing out on what they should have been earning from the fruits of their labours.
 
Forty-two people had in total borrowed 856 taka (a total of less than $US 27). “My God, my God, all this misery in all these forty-two families all because of the lack of $27!” he exclaimed.
 
The Professor lent them $27 and said they could repay him whenever they could afford to. Over the next week, it struck him that what he had done was not sufficient because it was only a personal and emotional solution. He had simply lent $27 but what he had to do was to provide an institutional solution.
 
So the Professor and his colleagues did just that. Today Grameen Bank has 2,563 branches. It works in 81,343 villages and has 8 million borrowers who own 95% of the Bank. It just recently passed the $US 8.9 Billion mark in loans to the poor.
 
 
 

Resources

[divider] [divider]

We Recommend

fairtrade coffee wedding favour 60g
fairtrade coffee wedding favour 60g