By Spiros Tzelepis
"Witnesses about Poverty"
One of the challenges that mankind has to face at the beginning of the
twenty first century is that of poverty. It is well known to everyone
that at the end of our century, the world shares its wealth more
unfairly, more unequally and more provocatively than it did at the end
of the previous century.
It is also noteworthy that the boundaries between wealth and poverty
among the countries and inside the cities of the same country have
radically changed; they are not stable and immovable any more. Very fast
and very easily people may pass these boundaries and they usually pass
them towards one direction: that of poverty (see people who lose their
Of course, everyone knows that the existing resources are enough for
everybody to have a home, drinkable water and the basic sanitation
facilities with a cost lower than 100 dollars per person. However, if
this is obvious, why do statistics show increasing poverty in the
developing countries and inside the cities of the industrialized
countries as well? It is a common secret that the reason for poverty is
the unequal distribution of the wealth and the increasing unemployment.
Therefore, it is time for humankind to understand that it has to bridge
these inequalities and to prevent their expansion, if people really care
about the problem. Many of today's problems have their roots in poverty.
Phenomena like illiteracy, emigration and social upheavals, many
diseases and deaths and sometimes wars would not happen if the world's
wealth were distributed more equally.
The above is a bit of my thought, but what I write cannot describe the
problem as clearly and lively as the witness of two children from Uganda
which I had the luck to share with the kids of my team in the Junior
Summit. I am rewriting them, hoping that this will contribute to raising
the awareness of people who haven't forgotten yet that we have to look a
little further than our own little world.
Bisaso is a sixteen-year-old boy from Uganda. He joined our team later
than the other kids and this was due to poverty as he wrote to us. In
his introduction he wrote, "I am a child who comes from a poor family of
seven people. I have the parents, but have a lot of problems. That's why
when I got a chance of the Junior Summit I saw it as a blessing for me
to express my problem worldwide. Poverty in the family that affects me
leads has a shortage of school fees". Later Bisaso apologized to us for
not sending messages frequently. "I am your fellow friendly, peaceful
kindly participant with many problems here in my community. I am not
fine because of the problems. I am using the school facilities for
communication. At our home, we have no any communication facilities.
That is because I am not sending much work. I attend to be on computers
at 4.15 p.m. to 5.00 and sometimes from 5.00 to 6.15 not on Internet. I
am not allowed to go to the internet. I do not have access to internet."
When Bisaso tried to describe the situation in his country, he wrote to
us: "In my country, the children face problems that lead to malnutrition
and starvation, internal strives and wars. Here the families are forced
out of their homes with their children. Others go wandering in various
places with nothing to eat for several days and end up in some camps. So
I have no solution yet, if you have may you help." The last time Bisaso
wrote to us he asked us to pray for him. I have not heard from him since
Jubilee is a girl from Uganda, too. Describing what she had to do in
order to contact us, she wrote: "I had to walk for several miles to
school today only to find the teacher's office locked. I waited for a
few minutes, then decided to go to his place, luckily I found his
daughter who agreed to give me a few minutes, so now I am here." In
another e-mail Jubilee was very sad and was wondering "why people with
brain, but no money cannot go to school, while those with money, but no
brain can." She spoke to us about the reason for her sadness: "On
Wednesday, I was sent back home to collect school fees. I pleaded to the
teacher and she let me study for that day. At home, I told my mum that I
would not be allowed in class without clearing. She said that she
doesn't have the money until Monday. We do Saturday test and I could not
afford missing it. I cried, but mummy said that she couldn't do
anything. I do not remember feeling such pain in my life. Well, what I
am getting at is that day and night people are dropping out of school
due to poverty." She also gave us a picture of her country: "Street
children are shot and called thieves, some are so young and innocent.
The girls are raped and have nowhere to report." She has wondered many
times "why irresponsible parents give birth to more children than they
can feed." She has opened her heart to us about her family and she
ended: "You can say I am just trying to survive."
I have nothing more to write. I just want to remind people of something:
"You people are lost, if you forget that the fruits belong to everyone
and that the Earth belongs to no one." (Jean Jacques Rousseau).