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EXPAT

Posted by on Nov 13, 2013 in Blog Articles | 0 comments

EXPAT

Is this the face of poverty?

I am a woman
I am Caucasian
I am a working professional woman (or so I used to be)
I am 59 years old
I am the most educated with stellar credentials from prestigious schools
I speak the Queens English
I am unemployed for five years
I lost my house to foreclosure
I cannot make my rent
I am considering living out of tent and my car
I count my coins
I am living on what seems to be only air
I eat one meal a day
I stay home and leave the air conditioner on only for a few hours to sleep.
I don’t know how I am going to pay the bills next week.
I am scared.
And, when I walk out the door, I look clean, well dressed and stylish for my age
No one sees me as poor
No one sees anything but a successful woman
No one knows
The truth of my reality

The government dole officer indifferent only sees me as another number.
And acts abrasive.

I am Joy

Poverty is colorless. It is the people you never suspect.

It’s 2013 and I am an expat who has lived in Asia but now am in the UK
Fighting to Survive…

POVERTY – Street Vendor

Posted by on Nov 13, 2013 in Blog Articles | 0 comments

POVERTY – Street Vendor

 
 
 
I push a cart
Across a road
In a major city center

I sell handbags
Knock offs
From china

My child sits next to me all day and night
Not in school.
Not in home…
No Father
No Family
Illegal from China minority but I blend into this city because I speak Cantonese…

Playing with an old white Barbie silent
She wears no shoes
She has not eaten since yesterday.
She is hungry.
She wants and waits to sleep on her red striped shopping back bed…
The cover for my chart.
I will sleep on the stool in the alley next to her.
Tonight…

If I make a few sales tonight by midnight
She will eat after I pay my owner the money she expects….

Few have bought my fake mechanise
Everyone too busy today
Its 11pm on a Wednesday night….

I am a widow..

What country do I live in?

Its 2013 in a market in Hong Kong, one of the richest places on earth.
I owe money.
Dominated, I am a slave to a wicked Cantonese woman.

POVERTY in the RUINS…

Posted by on Nov 13, 2013 in Blog Articles | 0 comments

POVERTY in the RUINS…

Beautiful sunrise
Clear blue skies clouds breaking away
Near complete stillness
No pollution
Pedi cabs, elephants roam
Little morning noise.
Kandy

I awake to tea on my patio
5am

1982

My plan to walk
Down the road
To the Hindu Temple.

Void of traditional yellows, reds, orange colors….
This temple has open grounds with grass.
Grey statues of stone.
Ornate.
Not what I expected but what I want to visit first.

I walk.
I talk to merchants.
More smiling and laughing than talking.
I speak no Tamil.
I speak English.
We have ‘eye talk’

I arrive at the Temple…
Serene feeling.
Calm.
Grass less lush than I expect for tropical environment.
No people
Emptiness of the morning.
Surprise.
Puts me in cautionary mode.
To be safe.
As a woman walking alone.
Streetwise San Franciscan never takes risk.
So my ears are clear to listen for danger.

Turned corner
A woman walks towards me.
She in rags
Barefoot
Dark
Dirty
Something not right.
Something different, even in the distance.
I can’t make out why.

She strides to me
Assertively
Not afraid
Not with any fear
But alone.
She smiles, as she gets close enough for me to see her
Face to Face
A Hole in her nose
Half the mouth missing
Finger tips amiss….
But her eyes alive.
In spite of her condition,
Her soul still beams
Through her

I don’t know what to think.
I am taken back but I by instinct and training do not step back
I understand to be sensitive
I know she is suffering.
However, it hits me….

Leprosy
1981
Real not in a text book
Female
30’s

Second woman appears
Hand out stretched with soiled glove
Money please…

Glared eyes radiating on me.
I walked with no money —-no bills
I always walk with only coins, less than one USD.
I wish for more….

Easy to hand over so little.
Harder to know what to do for these diseased burdened women.
How does one alleviate this?

Poverty in the ruins…

WHAT DOES POVERTY ALLEVIATION MEAN TO YOU?

Posted by on Nov 13, 2013 in Blog Articles | 0 comments

WHAT DOES POVERTY ALLEVIATION MEAN TO YOU?

How do you define this?
What do those two words mean to you in the context of individual change?

These questions are important to consider when you evaluate your beliefs about alleviating poverty. They are defining of what your personal stand on the issue is and what your perspective is.

Is poverty defined by the income standards one is raised in?

In the context of a western persons lifestyle in 2013, if one considers oneself, as middle high income in America living in the suburbs of San Francisco then is poverty lower middle class living below the ‘tracks’ along the railroads? Or if you are raised with public school education as a UK citizen with a family in London in an urban lifestyle do you consider poor to be working class from New Castle miners family?

Is poverty the location you live in and refined more to the education system one attends in a location? Is it the people who are homeless and sleep under the stars, the bridges, in the parks, or in their cars, or in mud huts, or bamboo houses?

Or is it the number of meals one can eat daily? Or the amount of money one spends on food weekly? Or determined by the class of car and year of make that one drives or whether one takes public transport? Or the style and brand of cloths one wears (or doesn’t wear)?

Or are the poor only people who live in foreign countries far away from where you live?

Is that poverty?

In the context of the vision you hold, how do you want to alleviate that?

THE FACE of POVERTY— November 2013

Posted by on Nov 13, 2013 in Blog Articles | 0 comments

THE FACE of POVERTY— November 2013

Words shorter than paragraphs.
Sentences written from the heart
Feelings in the skin of my soul
Stories of what my eyes have seen.
Memories …..

The eye of social justice
My Catholic upbringing…..
My namesakes never forgotten….

St Teresa of Avila
St Therese –The Little Flower
Mother Teresa
Guided me to help the poor.

POVERTY – Coke

Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in Blog Articles | 0 comments

POVERTY – Coke

COKE CANS

Mother
Brother
Baby

Scavenging
For
Aluminum
For
Money

Hill Country
Walk
Through
Field
To
Town
Then
Home….

Working Day
Mt Hagan
Papua New Guinea
2007

POVERTY – Boys

Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in Blog Articles | 0 comments

POVERTY – Boys

 

Naive
Behaving with wonder
Eyes clear
Alive…..
Two boys
Rathafarians…

Like all children
In all places in the world
Curious

Addis Ababa
Ethiopia
2012

POVERTY – Hunger

Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in Blog Articles | 0 comments

POVERTY – Hunger

 

Starvation
Drives
Extreme
Actions….

Feet up
Head down
Tongue licking
Garbage bin…

Boy
In
Rags

Scavenging like a dog….

Tibet
1980’s

POVERTY – China

Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in Blog Articles | 0 comments

POVERTY – China

 

ROTE LEARNING

Loud screams
Calculated answers
Mathmatics

Heard from the outside
Children’s
Echo’s

Petite
Child Teacher
Age 16

Rural
Education
Blackboard Chalk
Wood desk and bench

Cold
Grey
Cement

Two by two
Boys and brothers
Try their best

All literate
All learning
All desiring to know more

Exited with so little
Minimalism at its best…..

Poverty
Exists
Still
In
China
2013

THE POOR in HONG KONG—- Did you know?

Posted by on Mar 2, 2012 in Blog Articles | 0 comments

THE POOR in HONG KONG—- Did you know?

Even the richest of the world’s communities has a percentage of people that live below the national standards. As I end the 15 part Hong Kong Chinese New Years series I want to write about poverty in this affluent city.

Not unlike in America where so many people from outside the nation (foreigners) believe America is a rich country and no one is poor, there exists the same misunderstanding about the SAR— Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong.  Marginalized communities do exist in rich cities, in the more affluent locations.

Did you know that 20% of Hong Kong people live below the average standard? Many live in squatter style tin huts hidden below hillsides or tiny 50sq ft rooms? These abodes are sheltered in ways that few people are aware of.  The conditions of the individuals and families who reside in such living spaces are cramped and many times fire and health hazards.

Although the statistics are not as alarming as in other parts of Asia (in a population of approximately 12M, 1/5 are poor), many of these people are old and do not have more than a few hundred Hong Kong dollars (USD $80-200) of their own income or of government subsidy per month.  They live with a roof over their head and very little cash. There is a silver lining, unlike in other societies in the world, the poor are not shunned or considered outcasts…. They are normally not individually bullied or pushed around yet they as individuals and as marginalized groups are just forgotten. They are left to their own initiatives to struggle and survive. The city moves fast and acts as if all people have wealth and can afford everything. Poverty in the eyes of most Hong Konger’s does not exist. Alleviating poverty is not the high priority of the government.

To survive in this city the poor work up into their 80’s and 90’s. They work as street vendors, wet market salespeople, and toilet and street cleaners.  They scrub the street alleys, pick up the litter, and collect building site and street side salvage materials (wood, steel, copper, tin, cardboard, plastic bottles, tin cans). They cart and carry away society’s rubbish:  Many are what I call “the first responders”—- those who sort, reuse and sell items that otherwise would be wasted. They survive on a meager income generated by doing these menial tasks. They, by dire need and necessity, are Hong Kong’s most conscious environmentalists.

To me these men and women are heroes. And, I wish they could be acknowledged and provided more assistance and support by the government and by the affluent community they serve. I wish people were aware of these hero’s.  In their quiet way, in their simple lifestyle they have helped the city to be a cleaner place. And, in the most densely populated, affluent city in the world where it is common place to consume more products per capita than in other countries of like geographical size, these local vendors and collectors of rubbish have shown an act of responsibility the rich may just take for granted. Without these people the streets of Hong Kong would not be clean and comfortable to walk down. Nor, would a reuse and resell sub culture exist.

I being a mobile resident of Hong Kong, never staying too long anymore, just passing through between assignments in other countries always is aware of this black n white, local Chinese style dressed women and men.  I understand poverty. I see it every day in Asia’s poorest communities. Thus, I expect a similar level of poverty to exist on the edge of any richer community. The poor have always coexisted next to the rich but as individual and family income increases people grow further away from understanding the woos of the poor.  As we improve our lifestyles we move ahead leaving behind past financial problems. As countries industrialize expectations change. And, it is mostly only those who work in the field of poverty alleviation that truly understands the concerns, issues, problems, risks of being poor in a modern world.

In Hong Kong indifference (attitudes of not wanting to know anymore) shows. People walk around, on top of, and without courtesy or concern for the poor.  It’s a hurried environment, busy, nonstop, non caring environment.  To me the SAR is the fastest and noisiest city in the world. It is a place where you need to have a lot of money to live comfortably.  No one expects or thinks anyone should be poor. Few acknowledge, except when they are doing their philanthropic duties at Rotary, Zonta, Lions, to go out of the way to help these hidden and hard working vendors and rubbish collectors.  And, probably these workers would really not like to be acknowledged publically. To me these hidden people are ‘just’ getting on with life.  They do feed their rice bowl (that is never more evident than at 7am in the morning at Dipidongs and Yum Chow Restaurants).  But, the difference in their food consumption, their personal home belongings is the polar opposite of those in the sky rise luxury city flats or beautiful village island homes.  Today in 2012, if any of those more affluent urban dwellers were to visit the government subsidized flats, the village or city hillside tin homes, I think many would feel ashamed and guilty at the realization that people in Hong Kong—- like these rubbish collectors, still live below world health standards. Many living in appallingly uncomfortable, unsafe abodes.  It’s terrible to see these squatter huts residing beside such a rich populated dense concrete jungle skyscraper society.

If you are a Hong Kong resident who lives comfortably in a flat in the Mid Levels or Stanley or Pokfulam or the Peak or in Kowloon can you name a village area with tin roof homes or 100sq foot subsidized government flats? Have you ever stepped foot into the poor’s domain?  Have you ever asked questions about these people?  I believe, but maybe I am wrong, that 90% of Hong Kong’s community can honestly answer NO to these questions.

For those of you who read this story today, I write to make you aware of poverty amongst opulence. To make you remember to open your eyes when you walk down any of the world’s city streets or visit Hong Kong.  I am sure if you look you will see evidence of the poor living amongst the rich. Be aware, it is not just in the back hills of China, or the Desert Mountains in the Middle East or the village seaside in the central Asia Pacific Islands that marginalized communities of people live. It is right here in the city in Hong Kong…….just as it is right there in America’s major cities.

Did you know that ¼ of HK children are poor, 1/6 of the households that are ranked poor are hungry, and 7% of the people live in flats smaller than 200 sq ft— (nicknamed TRAPPED CAGES)?  Twenty percent (20%) of Hong Kong residents live below the poverty line? And, as food prices increase (lunch boxes from street vendors today cost HKD 30-35 or approx USD $5-6), and inflation rises (in 2011 it was approx 7.9%); the number of poor households will become more impoverished, more hungry.

http://video.ft.com/v/1181961103001/Hong-Kong-poor-struggle-with-inflation

And, as more and more people move from rural areas to populated cities (for example from China to Hong Kong); there will be an increase of individuals, of families, living below the national standards. In Hong Kong, the vendors and collectors are just two of many marginalized groups existing today in the city.

Isn’t it interesting… I, THE AIDWORKER could be giving my time and service to the people of Hong Kong.
My knowledge on development issues pertains to this urban environment just as much as it does to a rural far flung location of the world. That’s fact not fallacy. It’s the sad truth.

What can you do to make this reality change?

2011 news on poverty in Hong Kong—–

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/hongkong/8818102/Hong-Kong-under-pressure-as-poverty-levels-rise.html

http://varsity.com.cuhk.edu.hk/?cat=19

http://www.oxfam.org.hk/en/news_1651.aspx