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Poverty Stories


By Spiros Tzelepis

Witnesses about poverty

A. This article is a promise to me to do something more for Bisaso and Jubilee than praying for them

B. The quotations are the exact words of the kids. I have not changed the grammar or the structure of the sentences.

One of the challenges that mankind has to face at the beginning of the twenty first century is that of poverty. It is well known to everyone that at the end of our century, the world shares its wealth more unfairly, more unequally and more provocatively than it did at the end of the previous century.

It is also noteworthy that the boundaries between wealth and poverty among the countries and inside the cities of the same country have radically changed; they are not stable and immovable any more. Very fast and very easily people may pass these boundaries and they usually pass them towards one direction: that of poverty (see people who lose their job suddenly).

Of course, everyone knows that the existing resources are enough for everybody to have a home, drinkable water and the basic sanitation facilities with a cost lower than 100 dollars per person. However, if this is obvious, why do statistics show increasing poverty in the developing countries and inside the cities of the industrialized countries as well? It is a common secret that the reason for poverty is the unequal distribution of the wealth and the increasing unemployment. Therefore, it is time for humankind to understand that it has to bridge these inequalities and to prevent their expansion, if people really care about the problem. Many of today's problems have their roots in poverty. Phenomena like illiteracy, emigration and social upheavals, many diseases and deaths and sometimes wars would not happen if the world's wealth were distributed more equally.

The above is a bit of my thought, but what I write cannot describe the problem as clearly and lively as the witness of two children from Uganda which I had the luck to share with the kids of my team in the Junior Summit. I am rewriting them, hoping that this will contribute to raising the awareness of people who haven't forgotten yet that we have to look a little further than our own little world.

Bisaso is a sixteen-year-old boy from Uganda. He joined our team later than the other kids and this was due to poverty as he wrote to us. In his introduction he wrote, "I am a child who comes from a poor family of seven people. I have the parents, but have a lot of problems. That's why when I got a chance of the Junior Summit I saw it as a blessing for me to express my problem worldwide. Poverty in the family that affects me leads has a shortage of school fees". Later Bisaso apologized to us for not sending messages frequently. "I am your fellow friendly, peaceful kindly participant with many problems here in my community. I am not fine because of the problems. I am using the school facilities for communication. At our home, we have no any communication facilities. That is because I am not sending much work. I attend to be on computers at 4.15 p.m. to 5.00 and sometimes from 5.00 to 6.15 not on Internet. I am not allowed to go to the internet. I do not have access to internet." When Bisaso tried to describe the situation in his country, he wrote to us:  "In my country, the children face problems that lead to malnutrition and starvation, internal strives and wars. Here the families are forced out of their homes with their children. Others go wandering in various places with nothing to eat for several days and end up in some camps. So I have no solution yet, if you have may you help." The last time Bisaso wrote to us he asked us to pray for him. I have not heard from him since then.

Jubilee is a girl from Uganda, too. Describing what she had to do in order to contact us, she wrote: "I had to walk for several miles to  school today only to find the teacher's office locked. I waited for a few minutes, then decided to go to his place, luckily I found his daughter who agreed to give me a few minutes, so now I am here." In another e-mail Jubilee was very sad and was wondering "why people with brain, but no money cannot go to school, while those with money, but no brain can." She spoke to us about the reason for her sadness: "On Wednesday, I was sent back home to collect school fees. I pleaded to the teacher and she let me study for that day. At home, I told my mum that I would not be allowed in class without clearing. She said that she doesn't have the money until Monday. We do Saturday test and I could not afford missing it. I cried, but mummy said that she couldn't do anything. I do not remember feeling such pain in my life. Well, what I am getting at is that day and night people are dropping out of school due to poverty." She also gave us a picture of her country: "Street children are shot and called thieves, some are so young and innocent. The girls are raped and have nowhere to report." She has wondered many times "why irresponsible parents give birth to more children than they can feed." She has opened her heart to us about her family and she ended: "You can say I am just trying to survive."

I have nothing more to write. I just want to remind people of something: "You people are lost, if you forget that the fruits belong to everyone and that the Earth belongs to no one." (Jean Jacques Rousseau)

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Reconstruction: July-August-September 2002

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