Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Unimaginable Poverty

What is poverty?

The online dictionary gives this definition:  The state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor.

How many of you have met people who are truly poor?  I mean - NO money, NO goods, and NO means of support?  It's overwhelming to look into the eyes of an impoverished person not because of what is seen, but because of what is not seen - hope. 

Here in America we've become dependent on the government. If we're poor, we depend on food stamps, Medicare, subsidies, and giveaways. The middle-class and wealthy do the same thing - we depend on the government to take care of the poor! Here in California, public schools have continued to provide breakfast and lunch to many of the state's poorest children during the summer months. Money that could (and should) be going to actual education goes to feeding the poor (who are rich by third world measures).

What has happened to our hearts? When did we stop caring for one another, checking in on our neighbors, helping family members in crisis, and reaching out to the poor and indigent? To those who complain about the "bleeding heart liberals" and the government giveaways, let me ask you; are you doing your part?

The government in South Africa is widely corrupt. I visited a couple of the poorest communities and I traveled past many, many more and they get little or no help from the government. The poorest live in aluminum sheds that are roughly 6 feet by 6 feet square boxes. Some are slightly larger - perhaps 8 feet by 8 feet.

I saw a 2-year-old boy named MoFo who can't walk. His disability? Malnutrition! I'm so ashamed of us. People around the world are dying of completely preventable diseases like malnutrition, starvation, water-borne illnesses, and AIDS while we complain about slow internet connections, or what kind of music we should sing during our church services.

I spent a couple of days working in the community daycares. Imagine 12-15 three and four-year-olds sitting in a tiny shed to learn and eat their lunch. It's heartbreaking.

Refilwe is not just an orphanage, but it is a conduit for education and change. The South African government policy of racial segregation known as Apartheid was officially denounced in 1992, although Nelson Mandela worked tirelessly (even from prison) for many years prior to promote racial equality. Refilwe teachers work alongside the community teachers to break the cycle of education inequality and to reverse the stinkin' thinkin' that Apartheid instilled in the minds of South African blacks.

For many generations the best that South African blacks could hope for was just enough education to get a job working for the wealthy white Afrikaans. It's taken a while for some blacks to understand the importance of sending their children to school. The teachers at Refilwe work tirelessly to break the cycle of poverty, and are invested in the hope for a better life for all South Africans - black and white.

To donate to Giana and Refilwe:

Northside Christian Church
Attn: Giana Stoeckel - Africa
2709 E. Nees Ave.
Clovis, CA  93611

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