Life can be such that every now and then you get into a situation that takes you down memory lane, right?
So I’m walking on the right hand sidethrough a tunnel to meet two nice buds for what’s fast settling as a once-a-week lunch date. An activist or volunteer (they’re never in short supply here. Both are big deals.) is swaying at a junction and as I approach that point, she reaches out and hands me a brochure: November 5 DAY OF ACTION.
I’ve been invited to ‘TAKE ACTION’ and ‘JOIN THE MOVEMENT’ to rid this otherwise great province of poverty. I wonder to myself: Poverty?! Really?!
From my ‘invitation card’, here are the reasons we’re (including me, ahem!) in poverty: UNEMPLOYMENT IS AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH, ESPECIALLY FOR YOUTH, and EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIMS ARE THROUGH THE ROOF.
And this is the call we need to shout to power: REDUCE TUITION; PROVIDE PUBLIC HOUSING; QUALITY PUBLIC HEALTH CARE; AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE; EMPLOYMENT EQUITY; A LIVING WAGE; FAIR EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE RATES; and RAISE SOCIAL ASSISTANCE RATES.
My mind is taken away from what its mulling (can’t remember now what it was) and for the next minutes I have to walk to get to my destination, poverty takes the front seat.
Just recently, when the great countries of the world were only seven (G7, anybody?) we were high up on the pecking order, meaning we got to “fund” the unfortunate who were wallowing in poverty. Now those countries are 20. Not an overly huge club.While we’re still kind of up somewhere and look too fragile because our position (and influence) is really threatened by the raising giants we surely haven’t hit dire straits.
So I ask myself; what is this poverty I’m being invited to rally for? It looks completely different from what I’m familiar with. At that point my mind recalled how, not long ago, when I lived in Mbarara (I still technically do – it holds a special place in my heart), I and my buds had a way of taking in and living at peace with such scenarios.
And it was really simple, albeit a little curt but in a nice way. Say that you were feeling hungry and someone came to you sipping a cool fanta, or munching delicious Pringles, and the person bemoaned how hungry they were. Usually the fitting reply would be: Hunger can really manifest in different ways (enjara ein’emiringo). And so can poverty!