When looking for a definition to define poverty, I realised it was hard for me to either agree on one or to actually find one that summed up exactly what poverty is to me. Through research I realised there are different types of poverty; absolute poverty and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is defined as lacking the basic needs to survive whilst relative poverty occurs when a family’s income and way of living fall below the general standard of living defined by its society (Richmond Vale Academy, 2016). When thinking of the topic ‘poverty porn’, I interpreted that to mean the confronting stories and images of poverty that is happening around us and affecting a vast majority of people.
If we look at absolute poverty, these are the people who suffer from extreme lack of basic food, clean water, poor health and no shelter. These are the children we see on television who need our help, these are the children who are exposed to malaria and are dying by the minute. These are the people who live in countries where poverty is their lifestyle, they know no other way. No education, no clothing, no families and no help.
This is the kind of poverty I would associate with being ‘extreme poverty’. It’s upsetting to think that there are people out there who live in the same world as me but have nothing and meanwhile I have a roof over my head, clothes, clean water and a variety of different foods. I’m a 21 year old who feels helpless in these situations. I could buy a charity bag or a bottle of water for an extra $2 when I shop at Factorie or Cotton because apparently that money will go to help these people but how do I know that. I guess it makes me feel like i’ve done something to help.
But aren’t all types of poverty extreme?
After taking the time to watch the SBS 2015 documentary, Struggle Street, it is evident that there are so many issues around this category of poverty. These are the people who have hit ‘rock bottom’ and have lost hope. From hearing their stories on the program, a majority have tried to succeed but due to life events, such as illnesses or disabilities, they have given up and either turned to drugs or alcohol because that’s what makes them feel a sense of relief (Eschool Today 2010). When I walk down the street and see children and teenagers yelling, swearing, drinking and smoking it’s like you want to shake them and say “you can do better” because Ibelieve in some way, some how they can turn their lives around. But how do you pick yourself up when you have nothing? What annoys me the most is that the SBS program has made this type of poverty almost a mockery for people struggle, it was based on humour rather than the true struggle.
The face of a happy Mother who is trying.
When I was growing up, my Father had an operation on his spine which forced him out of this job and for my Mother to take on more than one job for survival. My younger sister and I were still in school, we still had our lunch and recess, we still had our school clothes, we still had normal clothes, we still had dinner on the table… we were still living like everyone else. Except we were limited to what we could buy. We never asked for a lollie or chocolate when shopping for groceries because we knew money doesn’t grow on trees. I remember when Mum got her christmas bonus and we were allowed to pick one treat because she had extra money to spend on groceries that week. I remember picking a tub of ice-cream because that way everyone could have a treat. Mum was our chef, our doctor, our tutor, our hair dresser… she was everything!
So when I read Jack Monroe’s blog, Hunger Hurts, I could only feel for her and her son. I felt more sympathy for her over the extreme poverty and struggle street poverty because i’ve been in a similar situation. This is where I want to help, those people trying but still getting nowhere fast. I grew up knowing the value of money which has helped me to do this day.
In contrast with Jack Monroe’s blog, The upsetting reality of Modern Day Poverty, by Kathleen Kerridge, also touches my heart in that it speaks the truth.The reality of poverty is saying sorry I can’t afford it, the reality of poverty is buying groceries with silver coins instead of notes, the reality of poverty is going to the grocery store 5 minutes before they close so you can buy all the cheap stuff that will be out of date tomorrow, the reality of poverty is choosing to be warm on winter and have no food or cold in winter and have a bag of potatoes and sausages on a plate.
I started this blog with not knowing how to define poverty, but after reading blogs and research about poverty I have a good sense of what I truly believe poverty is; Jack Monroe (2012) says, “Poverty is the sinking feeling when your small boy finishes his one weetabix and says ‘more mummy, bread and jam please mummy’ as you’re wondering whether to take the TV or the guitar to the pawn shop first, and how to tell him that there is no bread or jam.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Eschool today, 2010, ‘World Poverty’ BusinessGhana.com, viewed 24 March 2017, <http://www.eschooltoday.com/poverty-in-the-world/types-of-poverty.html>
Kerridge, K 2015, ‘The Upsetting Reality of Modern Day Poverty’ blogpost, Kathleen Kerridge, 30 April, viewed 24 March 2017, <https://kathleenkerridge.com/2015/01/28/the-upsetting-reality-of-modern-day-poverty/>
Monroe, J 2012, ‘Hunger Hurts, blogpost, Jack Monroe, 20 July, viewed 24 March 2017 <https://cookingonabootstrap.com/2012/07/30/hunger-hurts/>
Richmond Vale Academy, 2016, ‘Types of Povery’, Richmond Vale Academy, March 15, viewed March 24 2014, <http://richmondvale.org/types-of-poverty/>.