Poverty is something that robs people of their dreams for tomorrow. It’s more than just a bank balance: is about people and families. Some define poverty as a severe deprivation of basic human needs – including food, water, health care and education. Poverty also means a lack of resources, power, education, adequate housing and encompasses a multitude of social issues. When living in poverty, those afflicted cannot access things that others can, and there is a lack of opportunity to change their lives. The monetary figure we attach to this thing called poverty is only one of the symptoms. In order for poverty to be effectively addressed, the issue of “opportunity” must be at the forefront.
Entitlement: A sense of entitlement is often found in poor communities. There are demands on government to supply all people’s needs, creating a culture of apathy. This apathy has stripped people of dignity and respect, having to rely on others to provide for their daily necessities. Begging on the side of the road, transactional sex, illegal activities and general hopelessness are some of the symptoms of this apathy mindset.
Charity? Charity is not a sustainable answer to poverty. Handouts do not solve the root issues of lack of opportunity. If the bank balance was the root issue of poverty, then the social grant system would surely solve all the problems. As we know, however, that handouts create a dependency and do nothing to change the downward spiral. Those in poverty need to make conscious decisions for themselves and work to get out of poverty.
The Impact: The horrendous cycle that poverty draws people into has terrible impact on people’s psyche. They begin to believe that they are not worth earning a decent wage. They think that there is no future for them or their family. They begin to live out their self-defeating beliefs.
Our Role: To sustainably address poverty in South Africa requires much work on all levels – from the macroeconomic policies to the on-the-ground support of those caught in the trap of poverty. Living Way is focusing on the community level. We are about empowerment. We want to provide tangible opportunities for people to get out of poverty. Nobody can get somebody else out of poverty. Even if we pour money into under-resourced communities, it is not going to solve the deeper issues of low self-esteem, lack of confidence and limited opportunities.
Our holistic model is a sustainable way to bring a new way of living for those living in under-resourced communities. Empowerment – not dependency.