The house was small, three small rooms, the bedrooms barely fitting the beds within them. I was in the kitchen sitting at a table, cleared for Carolle and I in a bit of rush. It was in the third room, the living area. The roof above us was tin, the floors concrete and walls brick and concrete, but really more concrete then brick. Pieces of the wall were crumbling around the door frame. There was in fact a fourth room, the kitchen, but honestly having cooked in a similar space in College I don’t believe I’d count it. We had just finished doing a workshop with the woman who owned the house, her 7 year old daughter participating in spurts, over basic finances. As a result of this, I was intimately aware of her personal financial struggle. Yet I sat there with a mug of hot chocolate in my hands, and she’d sent her daughter to go get bread. Carolle and I decided to split a roll. Amidst all her poverty she did not hesitate in her generosity. Yet as I sat there I could not help but think how many times I’d heard this story. The story of the generous poor.
There is a problem with that story. It’s a delightful story. The kind of thing that when you here it brings a smile to your face. Maybe a moment you think “I should be more grateful” or “How wonderful that is, I need to give more to charity”, perhaps in the future you’ll think of it again when you pass the story on to a friend. It’s probable that this type of story has convinced change in the odd person to make a great change to their life and to devote more time and resources to helping the poor, but the fact that the narrative continues says a lot.
Despite stereotypes of the lazy poor, people in poverty work very hard for very little pay. They work just as hard as we do in North America, but they do not yield the same result. This narrative continues because of an economic system that favors the North, because there is something very wrong. We live in luxury and comfort at the expense of those in poverty. This is probably not new information to those reading this, but I do wish to point out that we should not look on those in poverty who give and think “Ah, how generous they are!” but perhaps look to ourselves and not examine our own generosity but our attachment to luxury. Let us as ourselves “Who pays the price?”
Thanks again for reading!