Latest estimates put our World Population at around 7.4 billion. 5.65 billion live in Asia and Africa, compared to only 1.1 billion in America and Europe. Today, an estimated 1.2 billion will suffer from hunger (calorie and nutrient deficiency) and annually, 9 million will die as a direct result.
In 2016 there were 1,810 billionaires in the world, worth a combined wealth of $6,500,000,000,000. The cost of living index (Consumer Price Index) in the UK is 81, the US is 74, Vietnam 39 and the Philippines 35.
A Street Story
The endless number of stories that could be shared is equal only to the millions of poor in our world. This is one such example, one poor child.
A Child Sleeps
I stopped outside a modern-day shopping mall on my way from a nearby Soup Kitchen. The two photographs below are real life.
It was around twelve on the morning of 7th July 2015. The boy, probably older than he looked, perhaps 13-14 years of age, was sound asleep close to the entrance of a busy high street restaurant and oblivious to everything going on around him.
The area he had chosen as his bed was dry and relatively clean. The ground had a slight upward slope to the restaurant door, perhaps with his arm, it acted as a kind
Then something unexpected happened. An old man stopped and bent down beside the boy. He shook him by the shoulder and waited.
The boy slowly emerged from his deep sleep and as he did, the man, choosing his moment, forced something into the partially opened palm of his hand. The boy, alert to the man’s actions, continued stretching his arms and legs as he struggled to compose himself.
Slowly he stood up and, in his daze, he watched the old man walk towards the restaurant door and enter. At the same time, he kept looking back into the palm of his hand… his thoughts were his, alone!
Uneasily, the boy followed in the direction of the man but, after only a few paces, his path was blocked. He knew the rules, only customers were allowed inside the restaurant. As a street boy, he was barred and the armed Security Officer strictly applied the policy. Indeed, he didn’t have to do a lot to deter the boy, just show his uniformed presence.
The young boy waited for the time when he would catch the eye of the old man through the glass door. It seemed long in coming, but when their eyes met, it was overwhelming for the boy. No longer dazed, he smiled, laughed, waved, jumped… and shouted, “Thank you, Sir,” “Thank you, Sir…,” while keeping his hand firmly shut.
The boy’s presence at the restaurant door was soon considered unwelcome. With a hand gesture and slow return walk towards the door, the Security Guard instructed the boy to leave. Before the guard could open the door, the still joyous boy had walked back to his “old bed” and picked up a small unnoticed plastic bag! The bag contained his sole belongings. He had placed it in the corner behind him while he slept. It was a small bag of cooked rice, shared with him earlier in the morning by another street child.
Our Help Projects
Not all poverty is the outcome of war and violence. The two countries that we work in, the Philippines and Vietnam, are peaceful. The Philippines, 102 million people, gets 13.5% of its GDP income from overseas Philippine workers sending their salary back home but an estimated 1.5 million of their children don’t go to school. Vietnam, an estimated 94.5 million people have around 10% of its people, mainly ethnic tribes and the disabled, living in poverty.
Our, “Help For The Poor,” projects include:
A. Food and Clothing
i) Dollar-a-day meal provision:
The meals are cooked by volunteers or provided through local businesses, at a very generous rate, to a Feeding Center or School. If a school, the Headteacher identifies the “Severely malnourished” and “malnourished children,” with the help of local Health Advisers. Often the attendance of participating children improves dramatically; they know they will receive something to eat on school days!
ii) Children and Family Basics
It’s inevitable when working with the street poor, additional individual and family needs will arise; we try to help. Basics will often include help with clothing, laundry, general hygiene…, as well as, a little food for the family weekend.
iii) Religious Trainee Experience Bursaries
Anyone who has walked hand-in-hand with the street poor will have been filled with multiple emotions; from fear to humility. We provide a small number of bursaries for Trainee Priests and Nuns to identify a project, use the funding to buy clothing, food or other resource and then go out among the poor and extend their hand of care.
The old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime;” it’s very true. Everyone needs self-respect and life skills. The point at which we yearn for such a life starts in childhood. Helping poverty-stricken families to break their cycle of destitution can often be broken by supporting their children’s education.
Although education is theoretically free in the Philippines and Vietnam, charges still apply. The poor cannot pay for their children’s uniform, shoes, bag, books, pens… or the expected routine school extras.
We won’t create lawyers, doctors or teachers from among the street poor overnight but we can set the seeds of growth in motion, today. Our, “Help For The Poor – Education Projects,” include:
i) Home-school Bursaries
This project’s main focus is street and highland/rural children. It has a few simple principles: encourage families to send their children to school, pay for their uniform plus extra needs and raise each families self-esteem. Periodic events are arranged for the families and regular checks on each child’s attendance as well as their end-of-year report is overseen by a trained volunteer.
ii) Help for the Disabled
Our love to help the disabled will be no surprise; it’s everyone’s hope that the disabled are fully cared for. However, specialist skills and enormous resources are required. Sadly, if you are a disabled child in a poor family, of course, you are loved, but you are not generally their first priority. The groups that we make a small financial contribution to, seek out disabled children in communities, provide access to a daily education (plus residential overnight care where needed) and give ongoing parental training and support.
|Additional Info: Our expenditure has ZERO on-costs. Our program delivery is 100% free of personnel costs or other administration fees; the people who deliver, give freely of their time. All funding goes directly to the purchasing of meals, clothing, materials, etc. using local providers or volunteers. We work closely with other agencies including, Religious Orders, Church agencies and local schools. All our projects are long-term, generally a minimum five-year commitment.
As Jesus said, “The poor will always be with us,” so, we must help.
God Bless you for listening to the voice of the poor, they heartily thank you.
Don’t forget the cry of the poor:
Your prayer is all I ask.
Your prayer that asks the Lord.
To bless those here beside me.
The hungry, the broken, the beat, the poor…
… Thank You, Jesus …
[Prayer based on poem by Spencer Betz]