Blog Action Day 2008 “Poverty Is Not Created Equal”

Blog Action Day 2008 post

I wrote this post on February 14, 2007. It changed me. I believe this single post helped me evolve into the woman I am today. The amazing thing is, I have changed since then. I have been to Kenya twice since that February and I have seen this kind of poverty up close once again. It’s difficult to describe. I hope one day you will join me on one of my trips, then you too will be changed forever.

I am part of an amazing community of moms on a website called CafeMom. I wrote a post there informing some of my fellow Moms about a company called BeadForLife. I wrote about how I loved their products and gave some basic information about the beautiful necklaces that were made by Ugandan women. To me, it was a typical “Rocky trying to make a difference” post. Some moms thanked me for the information. Some posed the question, “So while I think it’s a noble effort to help the poor, why look so far away from home?”

I labored over this question for hours. I gave birth to this post.

I know what I do here in the U.S. to help out the less fortunate. The key word being less fortunate. You can read HERE what poverty means in America. Poverty here in the United States does not equal poverty in third world countries. We, as Americans, are not poor because of genocide, drought, or being victims of war. There is no comparison. We are lucky to be Americans. We are lucky to have the ability to get financial aide from the government in the form of Welfare and Social Security. Third world countries do not have this luxury.

From Africa to Guatemala, there are families living off $1 a day, have no access to clean water, and cannot receive any medical care.

That is a tragedy, not a misfortune.

If you are an orphan in the United States or living in foster care, by law a child has to go to school. In most African countries, it is a huge opportunity and a gift to be able to go to school.

That is a tragedy, not a misfortune.

I am defensive over this issue because I have been attacked by those who disagree with my international adoption. “There are so many orphans here in the United States, why couldn’t you adopt one of them?” is one of my favorite questions. Being orphaned in the U.S. is not even close to being orphaned in Liberia, Guatemala, or India. It is a life or death situation in these other countries.

That is a tragedy, not a misfortune.

My daughter is living proof. The birth mother to my eldest daughter worked washing clothes, seven days a week, making only $30 a MONTH. She was doing this alone and raising three children. Her husband left her after he got her pregnant. She could not feed her children. My daughter was fed soda and tortillas for the first 10 months of her life because her mother could not afford milk. My daughter could not sit up at 10 months old because she was so malnourished. Let’s read that again… could not sit up at 10 months old. She could not form words or any real sounds when I brought her home at 18 months old. Her birth mother had to separate all three of her children because she could not feed or shelter them. The eldest daughter was living with the grandmother, the middle daughter stayed with her, and she had to give up the youngest for adoption. There was no Welfare, no Social Security, no food stamps and no shelters for her to go to so she could remain with her children.

That is a tragedy, not a misfortune.

We are the luckiest women in the world no matter what are financial situation is. We don’t have the same fears as those mothers living in third world countries. If we are poor in the U.S, we worry about where we will live or how we are going to pay for the next meal. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, a mother worries about soldiers coming and raping her and her children every night. She worries about her sons being kidnapped and forced to be child soldiers, who will then be brainwashed to kill and rape other women. She worries about getting her hands cut off, her breasts cut off, and objects like knives, rifles and broken bottles shoved up her vagina because the soldiers thought that would be entertaining. She worries that her and her daughter will be impregnated by these soldiers. She worries about contracting AIDS from these monsters. She will then worry about dying from AIDS.

That is a tragedy, not a misfortune.

My passion to help other mothers will not be limited by the borders of our country. It doesn’t matter where they are living. They love their children just as much as we love ours. There was no misfortune that put them where they are.

It was something horrific and tragic.

So, I am sorry that all my efforts are not directed towards the poor in the United States. I do my part by donating clothes to domestic violence shelters and money to the food bank in my community. But in the depths of my soul, I believe if you are poor in the United States, be grateful still.

Because you don’t want to be poor anywhere else.

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2 Responses to “Blog Action Day 2008 “Poverty Is Not Created Equal””

  1. Kathy McGraw October 15, 2008 at 11:46 am #

    Rocky- Your last line says it all, “Because you don’t want to be poor anywhere else”. I can totally identify as many people asked me why I am a member of an Organization overseas, and why do I help these children when we have poor people here. Rocky you said it perfect, our poor isn’t the same thing….we do indeed take so much for granted. Even today in this Housing Mess and people losing their homes, what happens….they rent? Not the same thing.

    I have way too much I could say, but for now I will just say I ignore the ones that say “why not here.” They might be ignorant, but they also might just be uninformed.

  2. Overcoming Lifes Obstacles October 15, 2008 at 3:04 pm #

    Great article! I couldn’t agree with you more. I work in the welfare system in California.
    You might be interested in my post Poverty in the United States”
    It clearly shows how many so called impoverished Americans live – not all of them.

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