CONTEMPLATING POVERTY

In America, we think of poverty as communities that may be low income, individuals that receive public assistance, living in public housing, or in the most extreme cases the homeless living on the street. Depending on the city, the amount of needy individuals my vary. Downtown Chicago has a considerable amount of homeless. Most corners are occupied by a beggar.  They have the option of going to a shelter, YMCA, or other organizations for help. But what happens when that is not available?

In Bangladesh, it’s a bit more overwhelming. On the streets of Dhaka I see entire families occupying the streets living there. Every few yards there may be a beggar, man, woman or child. Some of them have missing limbs, clef chins, and other severe physical or mental handicaps. There is no public assistance or housing. No opportunity for people to get the help they actually need. So they take to the streets and highways to beg for money. Families living in the medians under plastic. Children filling water bottles from the sewage and sifting through landfills.  The slums are constructed of corrugated tin. It makes me rethink what it means to be poor and to live without.   In our country communities of a lower socioeconomic status have access to things people here can’t even fathom. Heat, air, clean running water, and money from the government. Even those working here can hardly afford to take care of their families needs, but at least they are not on the streets of Dhaka. Rethink your perspective on what it means to be needy.

There are many garment factories here that feed our capitalist nation.  People who make garments earn between $35 and $53 per month for your department store clothing. For example,  80% of Gap clothes are made here. I passed the garment factory which made national news after collapsing a couple of months ago. The settlement for those injured is close to $250.00 per person although they may be missing limbs and not unable to work…. counting my blessings with each day that passes.