I recoiled as the pungent odor of human suffering and affliction pervaded my nostrils. All around me; human skeletons staring at me as if I was from Mars. I was a lion among by hungry hyenas. Little children shod in makeshift clothes made from rags stopped what they were doing to gape. They looked so fragile, so frail, as if they would fall and break into a million pieces at the slightest touch. Trying to ignore their outstretched arms, I continued in stupefaction down the cracked concrete road. Poverty had swept through like a hurricane, reducing these people, who work fourteen hours a day and still barely survive, to flesh and bone.
Here in the western reaches of China, almost twenty percent of the population lives in poverty or just barely above it. In a global context, almost half the children alive live in poverty. Every day, people here ...view middle of the document...
I don’t have nearly that much money, but I did find a way to help.
For half a month, I lived the life of a farmer. It was a truly traumatizing experience for me. Every day I woke up an hour before sunrise to begin work. My back would begin to hurt even before the first rays of the sun splashed onto the Earth. I would stand in the muddy fields for hours, planting rice that will be consumed in a miniscule fraction of the time it took to harvest. The work consumed all my time and energy. There was no extra time to watch television or play ball with friends, the former largely due to the fact that television is unheard of and does not exist here. At the end of the day, my only thoughts were of food and sleep. My mind and body quickly deteriorated. The daily menu included: bread, stale bread, vegetables, water, and some meat on special occasions. After about a week of the work, I became a nearly broken machine. Every day: work, eat, work more, then sleep. It became mechanical. After two weeks I became deathly sick, chiseled down to flesh and bone. People do not realize how hard life can be until they plant a few million grains of rice wearing somebody else’s shoes.
Having now experienced poverty myself, I believe that the world as a whole needs to take decisive action against poverty. The widening income gap between the world’s rich and poor is astronomical, and still growing exponentially. The world’s richest man could feed the whole country of Uganda indefinitely off of his income. This problem can only be solved if people will forget their differences and start to remember their similarities. We are all human beings. We all live on the planet Earth, and every single one of us is equal and deserves an equal chance to life and the pursuit of happiness. If everyone on Earth pitched in a tiny bit, the world would become a much better place with the eradication of poverty. But for now, this problem remains prevalent, and unless something is done, the problem will only grow in magnitude, and millions more will die.