Poverty

Tomorrow I start instructing an online course called Issues in International Community Development for students enrolled in an International Community Development Certificate program. (I’m doing this in addition to the research here in Jamaica – which is now in full force – I’ll post an update soon!)

It’s got me thinking today about poverty and how to put this considerably large issue into chewable snippets. Even though I’ve been working as a social worker for the past ten years, poverty still stumps me. And humbles me just the same.  Strikingly, poverty, for the most part, looks the same the world over.

Poverty is the dirty feet, swollen from walking, begging and standing on the hot pavement.
Poverty is ragged clothes, covered in dirt, sweat marks and holes.
Poverty is unkept knotted hair, nails, teeth and drooping shoulders.
Poverty is wheelchairs and crutches, situated on street corners, under doorways and around light posts.
Poverty is the beads of sweat, grunting exhaustion and mouths wide open for drops of water.
Poverty is that quiet voice seeking attention, as well as that loud one, questioning the universe.
Poverty is the bold steal or break-in, desperate for survival.

However, poverty has another story. One even more powerful than the first.

Poverty is the endless smile and candid wave from a cardboard box, at the end of a long day.
Poverty is creative ingenuity, capturing treasures found in heaps of garbage for a well thought-out business plan.
Poverty is the courageous ask, the trembling hand, extended out in kindness.
Poverty is the will to persist, not give up, and to return that same place for ridicule, every, single day.
Poverty is the long and winding story, the dreadful circumstance and quite often, the path not chosen.
Poverty is shining eyes of hope, belief and faith in self, when society has indeed let them down.
Poverty is a community of friends, looking out for one another, soldiers on the frontline.

And finally, poverty is a glimpse at happiness. The joyful leap into a mother’s arms. The sprinting down the street for a chance encounter. The gazing up at the stars. The soccer game in the alley, loud with cheers. The making the best of what you’ve got, without misery or complaint.

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