Perspective on Poverty
by Sarah Catherine
If someone had asked me how I felt about the issue of poverty a year ago, my vantage point would have been that of a sheltered teenager who knew little about the world beyond the United States. I would likely have responded with generic statements about how unfortunate and unfair global poverty is and thrown in a few facts I picked up from the news or gathered from the Internet. While I could have empathized with the problem, I did not know what real poverty looked like, nor would I have stopped to think, “What can I, Sarah Catherine Lucas, do about this issue?”
Thanks to Dustin’s GreenHouse and the time I spent traveling and volunteering in Peru during the summer of 2011, my perspective of poverty (and of the role I play in helping to address the issue) has changed dramatically. The GreenHouse journey opened my eyes to many things, the extent of global poverty being one of them. The experience also inspired me to become a voice of change.
I vividly remember the first time I walked into my room after our three weeks in Peru. I saw my huge, freshly made bed and heard my mother say, “I laid out clean towels for you to take a shower.” I immediately began to sob. I had just spent close to a month living in a community where a family of five live in a structure a quarter of the size of my bedroom… a place where a bed is a block of wood with a sheet over it (if you’re lucky)… a place where a shower, a kitchen sink and a toilet is the Amazon River!
Today, if someone asked me how I feel about the issue of poverty, I would tell them poverty is the friends I left behind in Peru living in houses with floors made of dirt. Poverty is a mother named Rita sleeping on the streets of Iquitos with her newborn infant lying on only a piece of newspaper. Poverty is the baby I held at a medical clinic who is not going to live long enough to learn how to walk because she has a parasite caused by unsanitary drinking water.
Poverty is not just a current event or a global statistic; poverty is a human issue. If we are ever going to change things, people like you and me must step beyond our comfort zones and experience it first-hand. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my journey with Dustin’s GreenHouse, for the perspective I gained through the experience or the voice of change it has inspired in my heart.