On the Life of a Poor Person

Kevin Do - Senegal

March 6, 2013

Picture the following life:

A person living in a village in Africa. You already picture some poor starving child probably. Let me continue the description. This person is living in a village with no electricity or running water. If he wants water, he has to go to the village pump and fill a bucket. Of course that bucket is also for his showers too. His room is a six by nine foot area. Pretty small right? Especially considering that he shares it with his brother, and sometimes even guests. He sleeps on a mattress though, one made of empty rice bags sown together. The capital of the region doesn’t even have running water. He eats the same meals every week and the main methods of transportation are biking and walking. If you want to go out at night, you need a flashlight, or risk tripping over random articles of trash, including plastic bags, empty peanut shells, flashlight batteries, and other miscellaneous items, strewn across the path.

Does that sound like a person living in poverty to you? If I had heard that description of someone’s life this time last year, I would have thought so. But now I know that’s not the life of an impoverished person because that’s my life now.

After all, I have all my physical needs met. I have three meals a day, sometimes even snacks. I have a roof over my head that doesn’t leak, and it’s even made of concrete. I have more than a sufficient amount of clothes and a monthly income from Global Citizen Year. I’m fortunate enough to be in a politically stable country. My access to basic health care isn’t terrible either. I have work too, which is more than a lot of people here can say. The icing on the cake is that my host family is getting solar power. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this kind of life isn’t tough or poor, but it is sustainable. I’m surviving, living, and maybe even thriving. But then the question remains, what is the life of a poor person then?

Before I give my opinion, I will say that it has been influenced by  The Lives of the Poor a study by the World Bank.

Kevin Do