Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What do you do about poverty?

There is poverty on every corner in Palembang. I don't even need to leave the house to see it. I buy eggs from this old lady that lugs a bucket of them around the neighborhood. Her feet are all cracked and her face is like one of those wrinkly ones you see on the cover of National Geographic.

In a way, we have become accustomed to seeing all of this. Its not that we no longer notice the poverty, its just that this really is the norm here. Sometimes I feel that there are so many poor people around that maybe I've got it wrong and those that I see are really the middle income people and the extra extra poor looking ones are the "real" poor of Palembang.

Last year, I made a point to visit some homes for underprivileged children to see if there was any volunteer work that I could do. They don't have such programs and didn't seem to want help. They wanted cash. I don't agree with doing that so we bought rice for these places. My enthusiasm also fizzled out and I didn't go around looking for more places to buy rice for.

Instead, I thought I'd do my bit by helping those that I come in contact with daily. So, we help the driver and the maid with school feels, time off for school and tutoring.

Its a new year again and ever since I saw that little girl on the weekend I've been trying to think of things that I can do, apart from handing out my loose change.

A friend of mine has a clever idea of giving out pencils to the children. I like the idea. Maybe they could be children some of the time instead of weaving through cars begging on behalf of their lazy parents. Maybe it might inspire just one of them to break through this cycle.

I have some new ideas floating about my head but none that I really like at the moment. What I'd really like to do is to buy some of these kids lunch and have a chat with them. I think this is where I'll start.

I'm open to ideas and suggestions so, leave me a comment.


Mike said...

I think the pencil idea is on the right track. Although you may want to order imprinted pencils from the internet. Put an imprint that says 'free pencil'. That way they won't turn around and try to sell it to someone.

Kellan said...

I don't guess I really have any ideas, but I think it is so good that you are trying to find ways to help. Surely there is something. Maybe try some sort of "pay it forward" project - where the thing you do for someone is done under the condition that they have to something for someone else ??

Have a good day, Amanda - Kellan

Dani said...

Welcome to Palembang, Amanda. Nice to have you here. Best wishes.