Experiencing the reality of poverty

written by Cristina Amato

More than 700 million people, or 10% of the world’s population, live in extreme poverty today.* To increase understanding among people in Seville, a poverty simulation took place on board Logos Hope. These simulations promote poverty awareness to transform perspectives and inspire change.

People Development Coordinator Cecilia Tyamzashe (South Africa) says, “We wanted to raise poverty alleviation awareness in a way that will bring exposure to the great needs of others, and show how one can be a great instrument in helping those around them. We also wanted to address the issues of toxic charity with well-meaning intention, in situations where giving hurts more than helping, by creating an unhealthy dependency. We know that this is a collective effort, not a one-man job and it’s a great way to love our neighbour as we do ourselves.”

The interactive immersion experience challenges the participants with the reality of citizens living in a certain place which functions as a plastic dump site. To support their families, the individuals make useful items out of the trash they find around the dump, working long hours and getting paid low wages for their manual labour. They face corruption and some experience being trafficked in the process, while others lose their homes and livelihood, all setting families back in their attempts to escape from poverty.

After the simulation, the participants discuss their experiences. One female participant says, “It was just 30 minutes, but I was overwhelmed. It felt so hard to face such a hard reality of someone else. We need to pray that our hearts won’t get harder, so we don’t feel numb when we see someone in need.”

A male participant says, “It helped me to remind myself to help those around me. If I want to bring change, I need to do something, I cannot just wait for someone else to do it.”

What can you do to help an individual or family living in poverty near you?

*Source: www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/