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A Frenchie travelling the world...

15 October 2008

Day against poverty

Dear readers,

Which better day to use to relaunch this blog than the Blog Action Day? So this is a post about poverty in the world.

I am not going to annoy you with whining comments about how the North exploits the South or this kind of typical bullshit. I am going to talk about poverty in front of our own doors. The people we pass in the street but don't really see anymore. Our fellow citizens who are not lucky enough to afford the good things you and me can afford. I assume that you and me do not fall in this category, because, let's face it, if you read this, that means you have access to a computer. And I do.

Poverty in Western countries with social welfare (which includes pretty much all of Europe) should in theory not exist. I don't mean the poverty of just having difficulty to make month ends, no. I mean the abject poverty of the truly homeless, the often sick men and women (sometimes children) in our streets. Our welfare states are supposed to cover for the most dire situations and to offer some kind of "umbrella solution" to the unlucky ones.

And yet, many are falling through the holes in the system, still unable to grasp even the safety net carefully disposed by our modern administrations. But I believe that this is precisely the problem. Administration is not the proper way of dealing with issues which are essentially human and psychological. These people, our brothers and sisters, are often wounded, always ashamed and sometimes psychologically unable to help themselves in the most basic situations. Yes, the safety net exists and should be, if not enough, at least a temporary solution. But many are actually unable to even go to the proper office, to fill in the right paper to read the appropriate form. Some are illiterate, others simply don't know that there are solutions for problems which terrify them. They don't open their post any more, because the envelope might contain another blow to their already fragile state. So they are often hit unaware when they are kicked out of their apartment and end up in the street.

Governments are notoriously bad at dealing with this, because the answer is all too often a human one, not more forms and bureaucracy. Nearly always, the solution could be less costly for society if it was not a standard one but a humanized one. Because extreme poverty means extreme situation, exception to the rule, not generalizations.

Have a good day!

PS: just so you know that I am not talking in the air, I would like to remind the readers that I myself worked for an organization that is dealing with people from the street to offer them support, work and training.

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