Poverty and Social Exclusion

On Monday,  October 17th, the world will honor the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a day marked in Parisian history at the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.   A day in history when living in extreme poverty was not only considered intolerable, but a violation of basic human rights.

This year’s theme as outlined by UN.org:

“Moving from humiliation and exclusion to participation: Ending poverty in all its forms”

What does it mean to live in poverty?

For a broad explanation of poverty click here  and learn the differences between absolute and relative poverty in the world.  For statistical information check out this link from the United Nations about poverty reduction accomplishments since the 1990’s and the current  17 Sustainable Development Goals, the first of which is to eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2030.   (extreme poverty defined as living on less than  $1.25 a day in developing countries.)

“By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.”

When the word poverty arises, the mind is wired to think of financial hardship.  But the definition of poverty reaches far wider, and includes any insufficiency or lack.  Poverty of imagination, poverty of spirit, and poverty of purpose and passion are examples of poverty that less frequently surface when the mind is prompted.

Last summer, while living in Uganda, I vividly recall incredibly spirited women going about day to day routines, so grateful for life, for opportunities to succeed, opportunities to earn a living, opportunities to become integrated into the community’s social fabric.

Here is a thought-provoking excerpt on the subject of humiliation and shame that people living in poverty face, and the interrelated issues that arise as a consequence.    I may be dating myself, but when I read this excerpt, I thought about the movie Pretty in Pink with Molly Ringwald, and her handmade prom dress.  She suffered humiliation at school because she couldn’t afford things that her classmates enjoyed, like new clothing.

The author continues to write about humiliation and shame leading to social exclusion, and that is a profound realization.   How painful and mentally defeating to live in those circumstances, wanting desperately to escape, but too ashamed to ask for the necessary help fearful of disdain and disapproval.  We can and must do better than that.

Importance of Social Connection

As humans, we are wired for connection.  Togetherness. Community.

A sense of belonging.

The reality facing many people living in extreme poverty in the world is social isolation.  The world can become incredibly small, and power entirely out of reach when living a marginalized life.  Poverty, through it’s complicated and interconnected web of causes, forces victims into a cycle of isolation, disempowerment, and withdrawal.

How do we make a difference when the the numbers seem so large? How do we reconcile our efforts in the face of the staggering statistic that over 1 billion people live in poverty?  We remember the quote by Mother Theresa and we choose action.

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.  But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Monday, on October 17th from 6-7pm,  I welcome you to my home to join hands in the poverty eradication efforts underway by nonprofit BeadforLife.  I will have tables full of handmade recycled paper jewelry  from Uganda to appreciate or purchase, with all proceeds funding their incredible work.   I look forward to sharing photographs of the women enrolled in the programs so you will feel a personal connection and understand the tremendous impact your support has in their lives.    We will #standinlove and ignite potential around the world!

This will be a special day of exchange, honoring those living in poverty, and connecting with their beautifully rich spirits.

Let’s be drops in the ocean together.

Remember to wear your beads on Monday!  Use hashtag #standinlove and #beadforlife to show your support!

xo Jen

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