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Eradicating The Heart of Poverty

Poverty can sometimes only be a state of mind, based on our perception and what we value in life. It is also a disheartening reality for many. The Webster dictionary describes poverty as having a chronic need for money and material goods. How many of us in America one of the richest countries in the world, have this chronic need to have and desire more and more?

Earlier this year I visited my native country of Belize. A relative of mine invited me to her country home. I noticed that my cousin took a lot of food supplies with her. I did not question her actions but noted that she said we were going for one night. After we got to our destination, I went exploring by myself. When I returned she invited me to accompany her as she visited with some of the local villagers. She drove about a mile along a lagoon that was partially dried up. As we neared the end of the sand path she pulled up in front of a shack. She greeted a rather plump girl who appeared very young. As they exchanged greetings, the woman's face lit up. My cousin handed her a large portion of the food supply she had brought with her. The woman thanked her and went on to say she had some wonderful news. Without hesitating she began to narrate the events of her day. She attended church that morning. After the service commenced the pastor placed fifty dollars in her hands! She said, she rejoiced as she walked back home.

"When I left for church this morning she continued, I did not have any money. There wasn't any food in my house to feed my children." She ended with; "Something tells me that this is only the beginning of many good things to come."

Later that day, after our initial encounter I talked with her a little more. I asked her about her family and children. She was indeed very young. I was almost twice her age. I did not see that we had much in common, with having a number of children as the exception. I shared that with her. I did not see the point in sharing much else. She was bubbly and cheerful the whole time we chatted. I responded to her in our native tongue. Doing so enabled me to identify a little more with her. She was blessing me in an unusually way. I began to examine myself. If I was ever poor I was not cognizance of it. This woman had a richness of spirit. Did this is mean that I now possessed a poorness of soul? Or had my priorities changed? How could that poverty-stricken woman be so satisfied with her nothingness? I have so much and I aspire to have much more.

Hunger is a daunting reality that ravishes the body and eventually deprives it of its very being. Slavery and abuse brings about poverty for many. They bind up any one who becomes a victim to any of them. Of any of these do we know which the more potent offenders are? In our quest to eradicate poverty should we try to eliminate every circumstance that brings it into being?

Charity begins at home. If we are unable to see the need of those around us, chances are that we will not be able to comprehend the needs of others we are not familiar with. Aren't our own children starving for our love and attention? Do we as parents even have enough time for ourselves? Is our busyness justified because it emanates from our trying to fill our children's and our own chronic need for money and material things? Are we in our country of abundance dying because we have this deep hunger within our souls? Are we enslaved by our possessions? Is this the reason we are less able to give? Are we trying to fill our own hunger with material wealth and entertainment? Is this the reason our deprived children are dying via their own hands? Can we truly as another sort of improvised nation make a significant contribution when we too are suffering as a result of our own wants?

I applaud Live 8 for the wonderful job they are doing in bringing about world wide awareness. After coming face to face with poverty, I had to examine my own thought process. I made no attempt to influence the young woman's beliefs or to discourage or encourage her with my ideals. I believe that the first step is to accept that wealth and poverty come in many forms. People can be rich with material things but poor in morals and relationships. In contrast others can be poor in material things but content with the things that bring meaning to their lives. It is essential however, that all human beings have the basic necessities, like clean water, food and shelter.

For the most part, funds contributed to aid in providing these basic needs are not enough to reach all areas of our world. Individually one may not be able to contribute a large portion of money but together our help makes a difference. Who needs twelve pairs of shoes when they can only wear one pair at a time? Think about contributing the four dollars you spend a day for coffee, to help provide clean water for an entire village.

Ruth Andrews Garnes was born in Belize the second of six children. She moved to New York City at age eighteen. After studying nursing she worked in the emergency room in Bellevue Hospital. She currently resides with her husband and seven children in the Houston Texas area. Having always had a heart for hurting children she adopted four sisters. Through her writings she hopes to be able to make a difference to hurting children everywhere by giving a voice to their struggles.

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