Do you know what poverty is?

87 posts in this topic

 

It's a story of steadily improved fortunes over three generations, but I wonder what will happen with my generation's kids. They're already extremely privileged by any global standards.

 

I think it's important to teach them about the "simpler life", even if they grow up privileged. I make my 5 year old work when he wants a few coins. And I don't buy him Wii, iPods, or any other such scheit that I see his schoolmates have. That feeling of [American] entitlement starts young...

 

Screw all the high-tech toys -- take them camping out in the backyard, instead! Look at Dan's post above: THAT sounds like a fun childhood, "rich" with memories.

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I've been thinking about how very grateful I am to have running water, just being out of it one day. Dishes piled up. I had to use hand sanitizer after using the bathroom/toilet--and many sanitizers are useless against norovirus--the big one most people are worried about these days. I thought of people, even in the West, without running water, and how that impacts their health and the labor of their days. I'm grateful for so much. I saw a brief bit about people living on Hartz IV for just a few weeks, and the impact of eating the same foods, of not being able to go out to the pool or to buy a paper or have a coffee or go to a movie--to be out and social. And what if an emergency further reduced the circumstances of their lives--not being able to fix a washer, or some other item that they depended on before losing their jobs...

 

Then to hear on U.S. radio about small dollars of aid that will be tacked on for home care...$50 won't buy much, but the man thought that it was a "useful" sum on top of what other little money they had.

 

I've often thought how I'd like to help more people then myself and my friends. I do give, but I know that big organizations spread the money between so many needy that it's just a pittance left to each. But then, do you hand out money and become a target? Get people dependent on you/upset if you suddenly can't give? I wonder how relatively well off people can contribute to individuals without becoming a target of rage or a lawsuit. I wanted to give my car away when I go to Germany, but if there's a problem with it, then I could be liable. So, I'll probably give it to a junkyard, rather than giving it to someone I know a little who could really use it. Sadly, people who can really use things are often a little unbalanced, given their circumstances,(or maybe the cause of their circumstances)and if they think you are flush and they are needy...

 

Well, anyway, these issues have just been on my mind. So many people seem to have grown OUT of poverty here, but I know plenty of struggling folks on an acquaintance level at least.

 

The woman I was thinking of giving the car to I have known for almost two decades. She's a handful, but also very nice. Of course she'd probably walk and ride a bike, but there are times when it's valuable to have a car, as some of you expats without cars have discovered. But she's kind of crazy, sadly, and I wish I could just be a nice person without having to worry about lawsuits. I mean, you can ALWAYS get sued, even if you can defend yourself.

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funf, give the car to the Polly Klaas foundation (for missing children). That's what I did... a nice old Mercedes Benz, in fact. A very worthwhile cause. You will NOT be held liable for anything.

 

http://www.pollyklaas.org/

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Thanks, m. Definitely something to consider--I have given another car to an organization. I just am wanting to learn how to benefit individuals if I can.

 

I mean, I know they fixed up my car and gave it to someone deserving, but sometimes there are not so "deserving" people who fall through the cracks. Families always get attention, single mothers...this woman was sexually abused by her father and just never snapped out of it. She doesn't look "deserving" from the outside.

 

I'm thinking of fixing the horn, but it would be very expensive. I've got a stylish car with leather seats and power everything--older, but nice. But the horn doesn't work. Flips me out, too, but I've never fixed it, just driven very cautiously. (Good for me, too, as I can't let somebody hear my road rage.) But I wouldn't want to give it to an individual without a working horn.

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That feeling of [American] entitlement starts young... Screw all the high-tech toys -- take them camping out in the backyard, instead!

 

The worst thing about the high-tech toys is they feel entitled to be entertained by something else 24/7.

 

My daughter just discovered last week that her BFF (boy, 5 years old, attorney father) has a TV in his car. Also, five TVs in his house, and Wii. We have one TV, with antenna reception. For now, she can be mollified that we like to chat together in the car, not watch TV, and we sometimes like to do things other than watch TV at home. But it's hard to explain these things to her without seeming to criticize her friend's family, and anyway I suspect the big-time whining about the Joneses, whoever they are, will begin soon.

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She might not whine... not if you keep her life filled with activities that she will remember fondly later. It's the simple things... just look at Dan's post. I am big on getting kids to play outside. Nobody does that any more! So sad. And yeah... I was just talking yesterday to Jr's teacher about the fact that we don't have DVD headrests in the car. :rolleyes: We also have only one TV, no cable. :) Jr only knows PBS Kids, and he is never allowed more than an hour per day. My parents had the same rule, and for that I am grateful.

 

Jr doesn't whine about what he doesn't own... and you know, when he brought a real life snake from our backyard for sharing, the kids went hog wild. Nobody gave a rat's ass about his friend's iPod. ;) He is also very proud of little things that he makes (you know, by hammering nails, that sort of thing), and the other kids just look stunned. Get mini-C out and gardening... dirt & bugs under the nails is good.

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I've never been poor (except in relation to being a student and just after university), but my family did live on a tight budget when I was a child. Your post reminds me that my mom told me a couple of years ago that the "pancake nights", when we had breakfast for dinner, represented days when the grocery budget had run out before the end of the week or month. My sisters and I just thought it was fun.

 

My parents didn't like to spend money they didn't have, so they saved up for everything instead of getting loans (credit cards were relatively rare, then.) But we almost never went out to a restaurant, certainly not as a family, and we had a pop-up camper (bought used) that we used for weekends to get out of the house (we certainly couldn't afford to fly around on vacations like my family does now.) My mom sewed a lot of our clothes, especially when we were younger.

 

My husband's family really was poor. His father was (is) a hard worker in blue-collar trades (mostly steel plants), but he was very unlucky and got hurt in two or three major accidents over the years. The accidents were catastrophic for the family, since he lost his wages and had to pay for many of his medical expenses out of pocket. The family got charity for Christmas presents. When he was working, he was mostly trying to make up for lost income. Though he vowed he would pay for university for his two sons (not the daughter, though!), he was never able to help out. Nevertheless, all three of the kids went to university, two got advanced degrees, and all make more than six figures today.

 

But all of our parents' families were even poorer, all of them coming from midwestern farming families. Hubby's were worse off, probably because they were Catholic and had more kids (6 on one side, 14 on the other.) You should hear the father's family (14 kids, now in their 50's and 60's) at their reunions, telling stories that to me are very sad, but to them are cherished memories, even though for the most part they're about various aspects of poverty.

 

It's a story of steadily improved fortunes over three generations, but I wonder what will happen with my generation's kids. They're already extremely privileged by any global standards.

 

 

 

but I wonder what will happen with my generation's kids

Cinzia,your story I'm familiar with.My wife's family homesteaded in Alberta's peace country in the 1920th and that was just a little worse than you explained.As for our kids, I made them scratch for the extras, but I wanted them to have what I did just dream about; a university education.Thankfully they took up the challenge and made the grade.Unfortunately my grandchildren will not know the scratching and I wonder too what will happen with that generation's feeling with their entitlements.

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we lived in a dusty dry town on the western plains in the dakotas, the house was a wooden shack drafty and worn that froze in the winter and was an oven in the summers.

dad was broke most of the time, so when i was a very small boy we would set fishing lines in the local creek to catch fish if there were no fish to pick up in the mornings we didnt have supper sometimes.

every once in a while a farmer would give my dad a sheep that had broken its leg in a gofer hole. he would butcher it and we would have to cook it twice since the mutton was so greasy.

i remember once a big grease fire on the stove it scared me so bad because dad had told me that if your a bad boy you go to hell where you burn forever.

one time late at night i tried to sneek some food fom the fridge dad caught me and beat me up i was 4.

that happened more than a few times.

sundays were always great after church we would go to grandmas house and eat, i liked that.

we would go fishing always i hated it dad was nuts for fishing and would bully me every fall we had to go hunting i became a VERY good shot around 5 or 6 and would get lots of pheasents, but even though i was the best hunter my dad would still bully me by telling me i should have done this or that better.

i always remembered those days when i was a small boy.

 

i guess in the end poverty can be a poverty of the soul ,i would have been more than ok being a good hunter and worker if my dad had just been kind to me.

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Geez kent, sorry about your mean dad. :( I get the distinct impression that my husband had a similar upbringing, minus all the outdoor activities (he grew up in a small apt. in Germany). I guess you have to find a way to be grateful for the positive things... e.g. you grew up a nature boy. You learned how to survive. That's a GOOD thing.

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Having to wear socks as gloves in winter when i was a kid.Mother left Father and there was four kids.5 years ago stealing mineral water from work so we had something to drink,was free at work.All changed since then and i am not going back to it no never again.

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Like some who have posted here, I've been lucky not to have to scrap around for a crust. Though I have learnt from my father who was born between the wars in Germany and remembered how it was and my mom who was born after the war and had to deal with no food. My dad saved everything because it could come in useful in repairing something later. He would pick up rubber bands, screw, nails laying in the street saying you never know and now he doesn't have to buy one. I have to resist doing this myself as I don't have the space to save everything even though I love repairing things.

 

My mom and grandparents taught me to very thrifty with food. Expiration dates mean nothing to me, just cut the bad stuff off and eat the rest (guess this works better as a veggie as food poisoning from carrots is rare, ha ha). Also to always cook potatoes in the skin because less of the potato will come off when you take the skin off after, aka boiling then peeling.

 

I may not have have lived through the hardships of my parents and grandparents but know that it doesn't take much to wipe you all you have as many things are beyond our control.

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Autumn 1975, working here for a British contract company, wife and 2 kids, no sickness insurance,only paid for each hour worked. Just signed up for a bigger apartment and suddenly taking ill ( Pancreas ) . Lying in a hospital bed, no insurance, no sick pay, no income. Those were the days! I swore if I recovered I would look for a properly paid job with a German company. Now, 35 years later i'm enjoying a peaceful retirement with State and company pension, sickness insurance and all the trimmings.

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Reading about all the hardships the posters or families have gone through, I`m thinking wow!. As someone that came from a `third world` country I realise again how wonderful my childhood was. We lived in a rural area, where we had our own land, house etc and had cows, goats, chicken, pigs and had fresh eggs, milk, meat etc and was able to plant what we ate, yam, sweet patatoe, carrots, cabbage etc..we had mango, orange, banana trees in the back yard, so we really wanted for nothing, just cold hard cash. We had outdoor toilet, kitchen and shower, no running water or electricity, but nor did anyone else. Clothes we had a school uniform, church clothes, going to market clothes and house clothes, not a lot of it. My grandmother sewed our clothes, my grandfather did roadwork when there was work and I to this day love the smell of freshly laid tar....the family members that had the opportunity to go abroad to England or States sent back money to help out. I never considered that we were poor, but when I go back home to visit now I see how much has changed, indoor plumbing, kitchen, bathroom, electricity all the modern amenities...damn some are living better than I am, which is great. Getting an education was drilled into us as we had opportunity in our new countries, but I don`t think they realised it`s not that cut and dry, as most people home think that because you have the chance to upgrade your life you don`t still face hardships of a different kind, discrimination etc...life in general happens. I remember when I moved to England when I was 6 and we had no bathroom in our flat, we had to go to the public bath house, but we never went to bed hungry and had clean clothes etc. I don`t think I gave much thought in the same context to people living in the developed world. I know the history of mass immigration from Europe to North America, but never really though about it, so hearing your personal stories have been very enlightening. I am glad that you have all overcome and have risen above your humble beginnings...great thread by the way...

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True, very true. I'm lucky, I've been dealt a great hand in life an I'm greatful. BUT, I have also made some good decisions and have been helped by friends and family when I really needed it.

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"Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold poison, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad would kill us, and dance about on our graves singing "Hallelujah."

 

But you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't believe ya."

 

(MP -

)
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