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Friday, March 19, 2010

the rich and the poor

Every now and then, we find popular magazines coming out with findings on who is the richest person in the world. These findings may give popularity to the richest and their value may go up in the market. It will also be an inspiration for people who aspire to become rich or who are already in the race to come to the top slot. On the other side of it, it will reflect the disparities in distribution of income because we may find poorest in the world and the richest in the world are from the same country.

So many measures and efforts are taken to eradicate poverty and help the poor and the needy. But every individual should think (before eating an extra morsel of food, or buying a new dress when you have many or adding a new room to the house or a vehicle which is not essential but because we can afford to), about the poorest for whom your extra morsel may be a feast, for whom your used dress may be a royal robe, and for whom a thatched roof on top may be a palace.

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing. ~John Berger

It would be nice if the poor were to get even half of the money that is spent in studying them. ~Bill Vaughan

To a man with an empty stomach food is God. ~Gandhi

Consider the life of people in Haiti.

At the market in the La Saline slum, two cups of rice now sell for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.

Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared to food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day and a tiny elite controls the economy.

Merchants truck the dirt from the central town of Hinche to the La Saline market, a maze of tables of vegetables and meat swarming with flies. Women buy the dirt, then process it into mud cookies in places such as Fort Dimanche, a nearby shanty town.
Carrying buckets of dirt and water up ladders to the roof of the former prison for which the slum is named, they strain out rocks and clumps on a sheet, and stir in shortening and salt. Then they pat the mixture into mud cookies and leave them to dry under the scorching sun.

The finished cookies are carried in buckets to markets or sold on the streets.

A reporter sampling a cookie found that it had a smooth consistency and sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the tongue. For hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.

Assessments of the health effects are mixed. Dirt can contain deadly parasites or toxins, but it can also strengthen the immunity of fetuses in the womb to certain diseases, said Gerald N. Callahan, an immunology professor at Colorado State University who has studied geophagy, the scientific name for dirt-eating.
Haitian doctors say depending on the cookies for sustenance risks malnutrition.

"Trust me, if I see someone eating those cookies, I will discourage it," said Dr. Gabriel Thimothee, executive director of Haiti's health ministry.

Marie Noel, 40, sells the cookies in a market to provide for her seven children. Her family also eats them.

"I'm hoping one day I'll have enough food to eat, so I can stop eating these," she said. "I know it's not good for me."

I would like to quote Mother Theresa, who said,
If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.

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