Think of poverty. Think of a child growing up in poverty. What do you image? Where does your mind take you?
Do you think of a child in Africa, with a bloated belly and arms as thin as a pencil? You may imagine a house with walls made of metal sheets, barbed-wire forming a fence around the property, and a cloth sheet acting as a front door. Does your mind wonder to over-populated Asia where malnutrition is rampant?
Let’s put those numbers into perspective — 43.1 million Americans in poverty. That is over twice the population of Beijing; nearly 5 times the population of New York, New York. If we were to put all those living in poverty together, we would have 4.5 full cities of Tokyo.
For a seemingly so prosperous country, that sounds quite wrong, does it not?
These families living under the poverty line can’t feed three meals a day to their children. They take cold showers because they cannot afford to heat the water. Their sink remains broken because they do not have the money to pay for a plumber whose rate is $40 an hour to fix it — frankly, they can’t don’t even have $20 for groceries.
The loss of a job, ending of a relationship, drowning in medical expenses, and being born into it, are all causes of dipping into poverty. Poverty is defined as making less than half of the median income in America. These numbers identify 21.2% of children in the United States to be living in poverty.
The numbers are striking. Have your thoughts evolved? When thinking of poverty, you may think of your own town. Small Town, USA: the house on the corner with the broken down car in the driveway and no groceries in the kitchen; the student at school with free or reduced lunch; the child you see walking on the road each day with worn-out shoes and a coat with holes.
Poverty will not be solved with the snap of the fingers. But you can put forth effort in the now: volunteer at shelters, donate to pantries, write to Congress, show respect to all workers because you do not know what position they are in, support/shop from local business.