Saturday, November 17, 2007

Intergenerational and Chronic Poverty

My girl best friend once described me as someone who knew poverty wouldn't end in her lifetime but works for it anyway. Some days I feel that's too generous of her. Some days, I just look at it as a mantra. How can you live sated in a world where poverty is chronic and intergenerational anyway?

Chronic Poverty simply means people who are born poor, live poor and die poor. Intergenerational means it has been a situation that has affected parents to offspring in a seemingly vicious pattern. If we look at mere statistics, Filipinos are a little better off than our neighboring countries in terms of numbers of the absolute poor. But once we take into consideration the proportions of the poor vs. the rich, we will see that it is extremely skewed in favor of the rich.

Based on the study I'm reading (from the University of Manchester on Life-course, intergenerational and chronic poverty and the SEAsian Youth), the Philippines is better off than Vietnam, but the situation is still dire. More youth are stopping their education to work and get underpaid. More often than not, the youth who are poor today are children of parents who grew up poor years ago. It is very rare for adults who grew up poor to rise above the poverty line. In fact, only an average of 2% population was able to move out of poverty in the last 5 years.

Imagine that, to be poor all your life and to know for certain that your children will most probably stay poor because of the lack of opportunities in education and improved health and well-being services.

It's disheartening. Sometimes, I don't know why we eve bother. But... I still believe this:

If a group of people, no matter how small, work together for a common goal, great things an be achieved.

My students once disarmed me by asking: "Honestly Miss, do you think Poverty will ever stop?"

I don't know if I gave them the right answer, but I did give them an honest one.

Eradicating poverty is probably a hopeless cause. But I'd rather fight for it and improve the chances of achieving the dream rather than not work for it at all. I think, it's worth taking the risk. The benefits of a non-poor world is too valuable not to strive for.

And yes, this I really believe.

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