The mile poverty spectrum
Greetings again from South Africa. We hope and pray that you are filled with the Lord’s blessings.
Today’s blog is focussed around the poverty we are seeing. The range in the one place is quite staggering. Along a mile stretch of land, so many differences in the scale of poverty. All land is controlled by a Chief. Who allocated the land, and the equivalent of a life tenure to the land. This appears to be at about 25 Rand per square metre.
The more surprising end seems on the face to be a little less concerning, it almost seems okay. That is not to say that it is okay. This is where people do have state ID papers but are afflicted in other ways. They are therefore eligible to get a legitimate job, and register for utilities, healthcare and even the kids can go to school.
What are these afflictions? It ranges from family rejection, violence, illness, and the difficulty of finding work. Where they do find work, they can earn reasonably well relative to living costs, but job retention is volatile.
When they have money they make small additions to their houses. They are built in a modular way to allow for the piece meal building. However, the majority of houses are unfinished, or open to the elements. And sadly, much like in the UK, there are house’s with satellite, large flat screen TV’s, whilst the kids run round in tatty clothes, no shoes and they are going hungry!
Without state ID papers you are an alien without any status or rights. With this lack of status, they are entitled to nothing and have access to nothing. They are mostly refugees from Mozambique or Swaziland with no route back, but also with better opportunities, even if close to non-existent in South Africa.
The three basic needs for any child are:
1. Safety and Security
The first of these can be assisted with by helping to secure their homes with windows, locks, and repairing holes in walls and fences.
Mobile healthcare and medics can come into communities and help. These are not common nor widespread enough. There is also the ability to seek private healthcare for emergencies, at a concessionary rate paid for by a charity.
Whilst the other two are provided for in part, education is almost non-existent to some. South African have banned any community school that is not state registered. Without ID papers they can’t attend a community school. So, they are stuck without education.
The combination of these means the most vulnerable are completely trapped. There is little to no way out. These are the people Hands at Work and trying to help protect and raise up. The goal is to get each vulnerable child to the first rung of the ladder, i.e. all three of the above at a basic level.
One of the families we saw today, 2 adults and 4 kids under 8 living in a corrugated iron shack with a paddling pool for a roof (2m x2m).
The Shack and lunch prep
They are Mozambique refugees brought over to South Africa on a promise by the wife’s husband and her 3 sons after they had done the same. The husband has disowned his wife. The sons are married and have now rejected their mum and sister. The result, stuck in poverty.
Whilst we feel very blessed to have the opportunity to speak with them at their homes and pray for them, it is countered by the outrage at how these people can be trapped and ignored by their family, by the state, and actually by any state.
With that in mind, today’s thought comes from Isaiah 58…
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
Isaiah 58:6-12 NIV
On this thought, I’ll draw a close for today.
God bless you all.