Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Rich and Poor of Palembang

Every city has its own spectrum of rich and poor. There are many cities in this world where the spectrum is narrow but there are also places, like Palembang, with a very broad one.

The Sick
The rich here fly out of the country for their medical needs. The planes to and from this city are almost always full and many of the passengers are actually seeking medical treatment in either Malaysia or Singapore.

The poor are left to the local hospitals. There used to be a free government hospital that supposedly had the elderly as well as babies in the same ward. It didn't matter if they were contagious or not. I heard a rumor that this has closed down. So the poorer people now have to pay and very often, they can't and have no choice but to go home and hope that they can hold on until money can be found.

The Workforce
Many of the rich don't even need to go to work. The rest of them just come and go as they please. I don't think any of them have any fixed office hours. Maybe they don't even have fixed office days.

The poor here work long hours, seven days a week. They usually don't have any leave and only get time off if they fall sick. We have a live in maid here and let her go home every weekend but this is unheard of in the Indonesian households and people are almost appalled that we allow this. Their maids either don't go home at all or only go home once in several months, for a day or two. Their average monthly salary is USD44.

The Homes
This is one house. Not a complex of apartments or two homes joined together. Its HUGE.

And here are some government built flats that are rented out to the poor.

There are also many housing areas like this one with many homes that seemed to be built/repaired with whatever scrap pieces of wood or zinc that could be found.

I know there are many countries like this in the world but its my first time living so close to both the incredibly rich AND the incredibly poor at the same time. I can't imagine what its like to be one of the poor here and witness the inequalities that they face each day. It does make me count my blessings and constantly reminds me to do more to help whenever I can. I wonder if the rich here feel the same way or perhaps they are already immune to the scenes of the poor they encounter each day.


Kellan said...

Yes, it does make you count your blessings. I have often visited Mexico and it is so much like that there - so many poor. The US has areas like that also - in every city.

Take care Amanada - have a good day - Kellan

Bilbo said...

Kellan is right - even in the US we have our very poor areas. We once drove from Washington, DC, to visit friends in North Carolina, and Agnes was amazed at some of the houses we passed in the very rural areas of NC...some of them little more than shacks. It does make you count your blessings (which is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday).

lisa marie said...

Wow, what a wide range of housing!

Nap Warden said...

Wow, what a different world you are living in than Big City USA...Thanks for sharing, it's so eye opening. We all need to remember to count our blessings...

MamaGeek said...

Simply wow Amanda. This post really puts things into perspective and your insight is invaluable. Have I told you much I love it when you post those amazing shots?