Residents of the Bhimnagar community welcome the youth ambassadors into their neighborhood.
Premature judgement. The closing off of ideas and possibilities before they even begin to unfold. As a society, we need to stop judging what we don’t know and/or understand. We need to stop being scared of the unknown and instead, gain first-hand experience before we pass judgement. Such was my experience with poverty and malnutrition. For example, when I tell you that I’ve just returned from a trip with World Vision to India what are the first things that come to your mind? You might worry about my well-being having been exposed to the harsh reality of poverty that can be found across our globe. You might wonder whether I experienced culture shock or whether I had a safe and enjoyable trip. How many of you would ask me how much fun I had? How buoyed I was by my experience? How much hope I have for a better future world? How many incredible, inspiring people I met? My guess is not many.
You see, we have it all wrong. Our window on the world is that poverty is a big, dangerous, unconquerable entity from which there is minimal chance of escape. And how do we know this, how do we happen to arrive at this assertion? Certainly not with first-hand experience of the incredible work charities like World Vision are doing. No, supposedly impoverished people do not have what we have, therefore they must be unhappy, despairing even. Materialism is not enabling, it is disabling. We forget that these are people who find themselves without food, without clean water, not statistics, rather than personal stories of inspiration from real people. Poverty is documented as a statistical story. If I took one thing from my trip to India it is that people can and do escape the poverty trap. That rather than spiralling deeper and deeper into despair under the oppression of poverty, people are just waiting for a chance to rise above their situations and forge a better future for themselves and their communities. Rather than preemptively judging impoverished people as desperate, how about you wait and meet them first before judging them? It makes me so sad that people are viewed this way just because of circumstances that they can’t control. You can’t control what circumstances you are born into but what I saw in India is that you can control how these circumstances shape who you are.
I can honestly say that the most inspirational people I have ever met have either been living in poverty or had just escaped the poverty cycle. These people are so grateful for what life gives them, they are content with their lot and will never complain no matter how hard it gets. These people are closer to their roots as human beings than we ever will be. These people are more compassionate, more generous and friendlier than countless people I have met who live in much more fortunate circumstances. They are willing to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of others, something that can barely be found here, in one of the most liveable countries in the world.