Wednesday, 15 October 2008

South Africa: poverty and expats.

Today is Blog Action Day, and the subject for today is poverty. Am I really qualified to write about poverty? I who have never experienced it myself? Well I am going to try.

Fellow blogger ladyfi over here is also participating in Blog Action day, and she is donating money to charity for every comment that she receives on today's blog post, so if you care about poverty, please head over to her blog, okay?

I do not claim to understand the complexities of poverty. Poverty is an intricate ecosystem that seems in some ways to sustain itself, with very few moving up in the food chain. How did it begin? How can it end?

Poverty in South Africa may be a little easier to get a handle on because of the obvious contributing factors of legalised opression of the masses. But it is still a complex situation that will not disappear with the mere changing of a government.

So why should expat South Africans care about poverty in South Africa seeing as they have left it all behind?

Personally, I am so grateful for what South AFrica has given me. I recieved an excellent government school education that in some countries would be considered private school level. I had the privelege of having one of the highest standards of living in the world. I know that some of this came at a cost to other people who are in poverty now. 

I know that not everyone sees things this way, but whether you love it or hate it, you have a part of South Africa in you that you can never escape. The place helped to make you who you are. This may sound weird, but I do feel that because of the nature of the country, we all do owe it something, and we all have something to give.

Whether you plan to go back some day or not, you have the power to make a difference to poverty in South Africa if you want to.

  • Short term solutions include things like donating to charity. Of course there are debates about charities and if they harm more than they help. But they do make a difference to people's lives, people who are suffering right now, and need help right now. And your foreign currency is so powerful in South Africa. A little to you will go a long way there.

Here is a link to a list of South African charities. Most South African charities are not wired up for online payments, which means you will need to send a cheque or make a visit to your bank for a payment transfer.

  • Longer term solutions to poverty are more difficult to participate in if you do not plan to return. 

Those planning to return can consider starting a business that will employ people, and allow them to send their children to good schools, and help to break the cycle of poverty.

If you don't plan on going back, there is still the option of adoption. There are many many orphans in South Africa who have slim prospects for a prosperous future. AIDS has contributed to this number considerably. Again there are debates around the issue of removing a child from its culture. But providing love and food and a safe home environment to a child would seem to outweigh the problem of a child growing up in a foreign environment in most cases. That is up to you. If you would consider adoption of a South African child, click here.

Whether you decide to do something or not, I feel that all South Africans, at home or not, can at least contribute an attitude of understanding and awareness of poverty. I feel that it is no longer acceptable to hear things like this being said (especially not by fellow whities):

 "Look at the conditions in this township. They have all the oportunites in the world now but they are still living in squalor."

I have heard that kind of thing all too many times. Try at least to look beyond the surface of poverty in South Africa. If you can give to your country at least a reflective attitude then you have contributed something.

Here are a few links to some organisations doing good work in South Africa

  • African scholars fund- does excellent work giving scholarships to South African school children and students so they can complete their schooling. The requirements are a low income and a keenness for education. All races are eligible.
  • operation shoebox- collects toys for underprivileged children in the Western Cape and also runs a child sponsorship programme
  • iZulu orphan projects- looks after children and widows who are affected by AIDS in Zululand, KwaZulu Natal.
  • Epworth Childrens village -  work with children from traumatized and deprived backgrounds in Germiston, Gauteng.
  • Lebone House - is a care centre for orphans and vulnerable children in Bloemfontein.
  • help2read - places volunteers in Cape Town schools to help teach children to read. Books and donations are welcome.


Mandrake said...

Jeez Po, Mandrake is greatly impressed. i feel like a loser for not donating anything.

When i lived in Pinelands 2days ago i was sorting through my old clothes to give to a Red Cross orphanage next to my flat. Someone jumped over my wall and stole my Air Jordans. Never gave those clothes ever again.

Maybe i need to lose that attitude and do something.

Thanks for the good psot

Rox said...

Excellent post Po!

I also did one for Blog Action Day, but yours is waaaaay better. :-)

P.S. Great list of ways to get involved, have made a note of many of them.

6000 said...

Yes. Please send me cash.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for sending people over to me! As you pointed out, I'll be donating money for every comment left. Part of that money will be going to, which you could also say is part of a long-term way of trying to deal with poverty as it is all about giving micro-loans to people in countries like South Africa so that they can start up small businesses of their own and thus break the cycle of poverty or unemployment.

A great thought-provoking post!

Kitty Cat said...

Good post, and I agree with you that we all need to have the right attitude. Thanks for the links as well, I will check them out.

po said...

Thanks everyone!

Hi Mandrake, so good to see/hear from you again!
Its weird in the UK they have Oxfam bins at all the supermarkets where you can put your old clothes. They are well set up for charity over here!

Rox: will check it out

6000: well, you are a scientist in South Africa, and I know what scientists are paid in South Africa...

ladyfi: have never heard of that organisation, will check it out!

kittycat: yeah there are some really great organisations.

mylifescape said...

hope u having a good week :)
love your post!

you've been tagged:

Rethabile said...

Good, informative post.

po said...

thank you rethabile

Miss T said...

thanks for that:)...I've been looking for a good charity for wildlife in SA. Do you know of one?

po said...

Gosh miss T no, there weren't many on that list. I remember at school we had save the rhino where we sponsored a rhino. But I don't really know.

Moe Wanchuk said...

Very cool post Po.

Every country on this planet needs to educate the children. Our whole world, going forward, depends on how we educate the children. Also, the parents have to push their kids to learn. Education is the way to end Hunger and Poverty and War.

Thanks again for making me think about this.

Sweets said...

very good post po!

MidniteGem said...

One of the charities I support from the uk is South african Habitat for humanity. You can donate online as well. So want to go and build a house with them when i'm back on holiday - hopefully there will be a build happening then.

I love the concept that it isnt just giving stuff away. There people that are going to live in the house have to make a small contribution as well and then are part of the build and will in a sense build thier own house. Giving a sense of worth and pride.

Its an organisation well worth looking into if you want to do something to help that is a bit more hands on etc.

po said...

midnite gem: I have heard for that charity, it sounds so cool, will check it out!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a million for linking to Operation Shoebox ;)

po said...

That is a pleasure, I love the sound of what you do!