See Me Not Poverty
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See Me Not Poverty
The notion is simple – look beyond poverty to really see the human being you are dealing with.
As simplistic as it sounds I really feel that this mentality fails to be adopted by the mass. For example, most people feel pity and sorrow for the victims of poverty we see in UNICEF or Save the Children adverts but aside from the sadness do we really think about who the person displayed in front of us is. Do we think about their hopes and dreams? Do we think beyond the need for food and help and think about what their personality is like? Are they bubbly? Shy? Outgoing? Quirky? Loud?
My honest answer is when seeing advertisements for charity I didn’t think of these things. I wouldn’t look at the person on the advert and think about what they are really like. More to the point, I wouldn’t see myself. After a personal experience of working with a community living in a dumpsite and cemetery area I have realised just how important it is that we see the individuals who are living in poverty as full human beings with every want, need, hope and desire we individually want.
Teenagers living in a dumpsite go through puberty the exact same as teenagers living in a mansion. They have the same hormones, the same want to be loved, the same silly fall-outs and niggles as we did growing up.
Couples living on a dumpsite have the exact same relationship quirks as couples living in Chelsea. They go out on dates. They get nervous about seeing one another. They get butterflies at the mention of their name.
I could go on forever saying how much we all in common regardless of whether we are paupers or prince’s. Personality is not something that can be lost in the midst of trash and squalor. We all have freedom in our personalities and it is something that no amount of poverty, corruption or environmental decay can take away from us. The people I met were all different. Some were shy, some were drama queens, some were short tempered, some had dreams of going to Paris, some of being a pastor, some travelling the world.
I think that when we look at crisis situations and think how emotionally drained we would feel in the situation of having to watch the heartbreak of our children crying and not being able to accommodate their needs. I can, only to a fraction, understand how I might feel in that situation but I will never fully understand. That is why it is so important that when helping the homeless, or whoever it may be, we see ourselves, our friends, our family. They are individuals, with a personality, wants, needs and demands; let's not strip them of that.
Next time you walk past someone living on the street and you can’t give money, it's not a problem, but at least give them a smile and consider who they are. It costs nothing. But walking past with your head down, pretending they are not there, strips everything human about the interaction. Don’t dehumanise. Recognise that we are all the same. Breed compassion.
See Me Not Poverty.