Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Poverty of Hope"

When I read about World Vision child protection policy adviser, Jesse Eaves' journal about his travels in Eastern Eurpoe, I took particular notice to his story on Romania. What actually caught my attention and made me want to read on were the words trafficking in Romania. It made me recall a friend's story about women trafficking there. Young women and children in poor areas of Romania were abducted or lured to neighboring countries only to be sold as prostitues. Some were never heard from again.

Jesse Eaves' journals were very interesting. It spoke of the harsh realities of poverty where children were separated from their parents or abadoned. His statement that even in Europe there are impoverished people and that he didn't have to look far to see this couldn't have been emphasized more. It made me think of the children in Smokey Moutain who have to be scavengers in a mountain pile of garbage just to be able to survive, or the children who were made to drag tons of logs instead of carabaos just so they can buy food for the day. It was the same everywhere...only some are in worse situations. But one can make a difference and change things if we choose to go beyond despair and hopelessness. Eaves' Day 2 Journal showed how a child's experience with poverty can make her determined to overcome her family's impoverished plight.

His Day5 journal was most interesting. He spoke of a guy named Steve Haas who works for World Vision in the United States. Steve Haas had given an amazing talk about how poverty is not just about money; it’s also about broken relationships. Another World Vision member had said that the biggest obstacle in combating poverty had nothing to do with economic poverty. She said the hardest part is dealing with what she called the “poverty of hope.”

Eaves explained “poverty of hope” beautifully in his journal:

"I think about the children forced to beg in Albania and the mothers who rent out their babies to forced begging gangs.If there’s one thing I’ve realized on this trip, it’s that when people seize the opportunity to improve their lives, access to money alone is not the solution. By talking with people who took advantage of World Vision programs, I learned that the most important thing for them was not monetary but relational.
I saw this relational enrichment in people like Flori in Albania, reaching out to kids in his old community to show there is a way out. I saw it with Nina in Georgia, who not only got off the streets and into a job, but was able to begin the healing process of dealing with her family’s past and reconnecting with her brother and father. And I saw it with Karina in Romania and her determination to heal her mother’s poverty of hope through succeeding in school, remaining vigilant against exploitation, and being a living example of optimism to her siblings. All of these individuals took action in the face of adversity and we must do the same.

And before you shrug it off and say, “Well, there’s poverty everywhere. What are we going to do?” More often than not, we ignore the more than 2,000 Bible passages calling us to seek justice and work on behalf of the poor, the oppressed, and the exploited. We hear the words. We see the images. But we fail to act. We look the other way.

Through looking at specific examples of poverty, exploitation, and empowerment, I want to challenge us to expand our personal faith into a public and transforming relationship with the poor. If you get nothing else out of these entries, at least understand that you have a role to play in ending injustice."

Jesse Eaves' Journals: