Poverty, a world problem
Imagine living in a house without running water, imagine living in a house without any electricity. Imagine poverty. Imagine eating the same food every day for months in, now imagine not having more than one small meal a day, imagine spending all your day worrying about the source of this sole meal, imagine wearing the same worn out clothes for years and years, imagine a mother not being able to send her kids to school for not having a bit of money to give as allowance, or for not having clean clothes for her children. Imagine going to school for no more than five years, or even not going at all, Imagine being unemployed due to lack of education, Imagine dying at the age of 24 for a petty disease that can be treated with a simple vaccine such as Cholera, imagine dying at the age of 4 for being malnourished. Imagine poverty.
Poverty is a complex concept that has been proven to have several effects on humans’ physical and mental health. Several studies have shown that the conditions that go hand-in-hand with poverty — a combination of environmental factors and emotional stressors — can actually slow the development of crucial parts of the brain involved in regulating behavior, impulsivity, and mood. Given the multitude of factors that Poverty plays on, it can no longer be defined by simply calculating the income of a family, it is a multidimensional concept that includes much more. The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative released an index that thoroughly defines poverty dubbed the global multidimensional poverty index (MPI), it is split into 3 main dimensions each of which have two or more indicators. The first dimension is health and its indicators are nutrition and child mortality. The second dimension is Education and its indicators are years of schooling and school attendance. The third and final dimension is Living Standard and its indicators are cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, flooring and assets. According to MPI, people are considered poor if they exhibit 3 or more of the mentioned indicators.
Many people have never experienced a lack of any of the 10 indicators of poverty, therefore having these things is taken for granted. You would read about the conditions in which the poor are living, you would feel empathetic and wish you could help in some way, then five minutes later, you would find yourself complaining about not having a specific type of food for dinner, or over losing your internet connection for a few seconds, or over a dirty shirt you were intending to wear, or, or, or.
Imagine you are sitting in a pitch dark room, situated in a pitch dark labyrinth house, imagine trying to find your way out of this pitch dark room and into the light, some way you manage to find the door of the room, you open it to find yourself in another pitch dark room, then another pitch dark room, and another pitch dark room with absolutely not light in sight. Even if you managed to imagine that, you will still not have touched base on what it is like to be poor. Stop imagining and instead, give yourself some perspective. I stopped imagining when I lived a fraction of these situations, when I witnessed poverty first hand as part of a project I was doing to have a better understanding of poverty, I lived in a house with no running water, no electricity, where several options of meals is non-existent, where a mother couldn’t send one of her kids to school because she didn’t have any clean clothes for him. I’ve lived it but still I couldn’t fully understand, because the house labyrinth I was stuck in had a clear path towards the light. I knew my stay was temporary and I will be getting back to my life. However, one belief of mine has become more and more solid, the path towards the light lies in sustainability and sustainable living.
Imagination is a beautiful concept, it is the source of creativity, but no matter how imaginative you are, certain situations have to be experienced, you need to give yourself a reference point, one cannot understand darkness if one doesn’t know what light is (yin-yang).
Written by Baha Al-zain