Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Understanding Poverty

          I was really excited about my trip to Salasaca- a weekend with my Anthropology class learning about Indigenous weaving techniques. All I needed to do was pay the $50 deposit, so I took my debit card to school to withdraw money. When my class ended at 5:30, I loaded the crowded bus with my backpack on my chest and my arms crossed protectively over it. I got off the bus at the stop where the super market was; I got some groceries and loaded them on the conveyor belt. I brought my backpack to the front and felt for my wallet- it wasn´t there. I dropped to the floor and frantically searched every pocket. Still not there. I stood up and told the cashier I didn´t have my wallet who responded by rolling his eyes and calling someone over to take the food. I walked to an internet cafe so I could call my mom but realized I had no money to pay for the call.
          I got home and opened the cupboard to see half a bag of rice and a can of corn- good enough. I went to sleep tossing and turning, trying to figure out how someone had robbed me and what I had done to deserve this karma.
          The next day I asked my roommate if I could borrow 50 cents to get to school. I didn´t have money for lunch and was already hungry. I got on the bus with my backpack on front, looking at each person´s face, imagining a thief inside each one. I guess I had gotten too comfortable and had this horrible feeling- this is not my home.
          Although I lost $200, my debit card, my student ID, and a beautiful green leather wallet from Morocco, all I can do now is try and understand why this happened. I didn´t know how I was going to buy my next meal and realized a large percentage of the world lives like this, so I decided to look up some statistics. I found out that over 3 BILLION people live on less than $2.50 a day! In Ecuador alone, about 30% of the population lives below the national poverty line- which is much lower than the poverty line in the United States. Even though I had seen these statistics before, I have never fully understood them. I have never felt hunger in my belly with not even a cent in my pocket. I have never not had enough money to ride the bus to school.
          Today, I struggle with poverty alongside 3 billion other people. Tomorrow, I receive cash from a wire transfer my mom will send me and I will return to my privileged life. 
          As I am writing this on the bus, I look up to see a woman playing with her baby. The woman´s shoes are torn and it´s raining outside. The baby´s clothes are dirty- not dirty from playing in dirt, but dirty from having to wear the same clothes every day. Nevertheless, the baby screams with joy and the young mother responds with a giggle. I imagine it was her husband who stole my wallet. I imagine him buying shoes for his wife and a coat for his baby with the money he found in my wallet. Suddenly I feel alright about everything that happened. Although I don´t have enough money to eat lunch today, at least a family in Quito will be able to afford new shoes and a warm coat.

No comments:

Post a Comment