Sunday, October 23, 2011

Extreme Poverty of Caring for the Poor

Millions of Filipinos now living in poverty and experiencing hunger everyday of their lives is a fact that is impossible to miss. I see it at the streets inside Clark when I come to work daily. Young children forced to work with their parents selling whatever they can produce at home. Worse than that, there are more children on the streets of Manila begging for money or food because they have nothing they could sell. Everywhere I went it’s hard to miss the squatters’ area which is a testament to the plight of our fellow men, women and children who undeservedly suffer from lack. Whenever I watch the news channels, documentaries of how poor Filipinos in the provinces do their best just to survive and the difficulties they have had to endure causing them hunger, illnesses and ultimately death were just heartbreaking.

Who is to blame for this?
These images and realities can break anyone’s heart so much that some people express anger towards the government for not doing enough for them. Others would blame the poor themselves for their situation. Pointing fingers to identify the blame, unfortunately, does not produce results. I used to belong to this group. I placed blame to a lot people. I certainly did not blame myself for anything going on. I blamed the government, previous administrations that stole the people’s money, erroneous policies that resulted to more poverty, lack of initiative by the poor to alleviate their condition and every other plausible explanation I could think of. 

A call to action with compassion
At the end of the day, I thought these people who need help certainly would not be better off even if I could blame everyone. What ultimately would help them are some concrete actions from every sector of our society including myself. It would be utterly heartless of me to just ignore them. Although I am not rich to give away huge amounts, I think I am fortunate enough to contribute what I can to help out. And I think every person who has the means can and should do the same thing. It’s in all of our interest that poverty be reduced to its lowest. If we all do this, not only are we being compassionate but we are also solving problems associated with poverty that can affect us directly. We don’t want to get robbed or be a victim of a crime. We know that the poorer the people are, the more it is likely that crimes will be committed for survival. I’m here in Malaysia right now where poverty rate is one of the lowest in the world. People here are not afraid to go out at night or to walk the streets for fear of getting robbed or kidnapped.

How did I do it? – You can too...
When I was figuring out what I could do to help, I thought I had two resources at my disposal. I could either give my time or my money or both. Giving my time would mean that I could do volunteer work for non-government organizations that work directly to help the poor such as Habitat for Humanity, the Philippine Red Cross, World Vision, Unicef Philippines and others. Giving my money would mean that I could pledge to donate a specified amount on a monthly basis that will not strain my budget whatsoever. I have looked at these non-profit organizations and chose Unicef for their direct involvement with children in particular. Children are the most severely affected by poverty because they do not have the ability to get out of it. We consider children to be our future so if we don’t focus on them, we could be voting against the future. 

Learn more about UNICEF Philippines


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