Thursday, July 18, 2013

The harsh realities of poverty

Washing her clothes
     I live, work and breath every day in the midst of poverty.  My clinic serves the poorest of the poor in the middle of an extremely poor community.  I care for children that have not eaten, who don't have shoes to go to school, whose hair is tinged red from being in a state of chronic malnourishment. But even among the poor there are levels of poor.  In the States, there are so many resources.  Honestly, we have rich poor compared to so much of the rest of the world.  Food stamps, unemployment, soup kitchens, and the list goes on.  This is the advantage of living in such a wealthy nation.  Here, the resources are absent.  No feeding programs, food stamps, or social resources of almost any kind other than what the Non-Profit organizations like ours has to give.  Given all that, it still shocks me at times, and humbly reminds me of the country I live in when I see what I saw today.  An adult woman of probably 35 or 40 years old found a fountain next to a restaurant, and the only clothes she owned, she took each item off one by one and scrubbed it down in the fountain before putting it back on.  It left me humbled and saddened.
      Never have I been in a place in my life where this is my reality.  I pray I always keep that heart for the poor and never forget what I do have.  Not long after we got here, 5 years ago, Madison being  barely 11 years old, we found a young street boy curled up in his single t-shirt sleeping on the street.  We took him to a used store and bought him a pair of pants and some food.  Madison was so troubled.  She said "mom...we have SO much, and he has nothing...we need to give everything away and help him."  I said "honey...that is exactly what we have done.  And here we are, to help people just like him."
  I told her not to feel guilty because we had things and he did not.   I said it isn't shame on us, it is shame on them that have and do not give as we have been mandatd by God to do.
     So pray for this woman who has left 100% of her pride to have come to this place in her life where her only clothes she must wash piece by piece in a fountain in the middle of the city.  And while you are at it, pray for all the other people who are seeking God and seeking peace in their lives.

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