Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty - What is the answer?

(I almost started out this post with the words, "Dear Friends" but don't want to sound like John McCain.)

Awhile ago, Cameron told me about Blog Action Day, an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. They say their aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. (photo credit - read the story)

In 2008, the Blog Action Day theme is Poverty. Again, they say, Global issues like poverty are extremely complex. There is no simple, clear answer. By asking thousands of different people to give their viewpoints and opinions, Blog Action Day creates an extraordinary lens through which to view these issues.

Today, I am short on solutions. What I do have are stories. Last Friday, on my way to court to file a report about one of the kids I work to advocate for through CASA, I passed a woman who was making her bed for herself on the sidewalk. She was settling into her sleeping bag at around 3:45pm. On my way back, I walked past her curled up in the sleeping bag, apparently trying to sleep just steps from the entrance to the underground train. (photo credit - read the story)

At the bottom of the stairs, I passed a man holding a cup out, begging for change. As I walked away, I heard him frantically saying, "Please, God." "Please, God." "Please, God." "Please, God." (photo credit - read the story)

I stopped by my office to drop off a few things then headed out to where Cam was picking me up for the day. I passed a woman, on another street corner, begging with her two young children. They were somewhere between 5-10. The boy was covering his face with something. I imagine he may have been feeling shame. Maybe he just didn't want to see all of the people walking past them like they were invisible. The girl was doing her best to help her mom engage the crowd. I wanted to ask this woman why she was out there with her kids but I am sure that she wouldn't be if she felt that she had a better option. (photo credit)

Why didn't I stop? On my way from the ferry to my office, a walk of about 10 minutes, I walk past an average of eight homeless people. I just cannot stop and talk to each of them let alone begin to help. So, generally, I stop and talk to no one. (photo credit - read the story)

I do what I can, working, for very little pay, 30 hours a week to try to help the 30 kids who are on my case load at CASA. I volunteer with Project Homeless Connect.

On Monday, I had lunch with a friend who also wants to do something, has also worked in the non-profit sector and also volunteers but we don't have the solution. (photo credit - read the story) Note: These photos are not of the people I saw last Friday but they are photos of the people I see everyday. They are from an amazing set of photos taken of people on the streets of San Francisco.

What are you doing? What should we all do? Here's one idea.

If you haven't yet, please visit and considering signing The One Campaign Declaration. As the video says, "We aren't asking for your money. We are asking for your voice."

Another way to have your voice heard is to vote. I am hopeful that if we elect a president who has a plan for addressing poverty, if we elect Barack Obama, that will be a step in the right direction but we all have to be willing to help. He says, I'm asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change... I'm asking you to believe in yours.

Cam and his students have some ideas. What are yours?

Here are links to other things I have written on the issue of poverty:
Make Poverty History
What I want for Mother's Day
We are African
Tonight's the Night the World Begins Again.
Why I live here
Stood-up by the mayor
Do I look taller?
I had to wear a hairnet.
Why I'm bitter (and appreciate him noticing).

Thanks for your interest and caring. Peace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary - an excellent post. It has been a while since we connected in the blog ether but we are contemplating the same things - I am currently looking at practical issues of poverty in a unit I am doing at college. And posting some observations such as this - trying to ensure there is more than an academic interest in the issue is the main thing!