Slum Life

Having traveled around the world doing missions work for the past 8 years, I’ve seen a lot of people who are trapped in poverty and living in slums. I ran across this photo blog today via the Boston Globe. It captures the reality of 1 BILLION people around the world.

Sometimes I need a reminder of the things I’ve seen and the people I’ve met. This was a big reminder this morning.  Several months ago I said that I wanted to do a blog series on “What You Should Know” and highlight issues, people, circumstances, and news from around the world. I want to keep that going starting with this post and the link to this photo blog.

After taking a look at these pictures, leave a comment here and let me know what you think about poverty, the reality of slum life, and the people you’ve met that live in these conditions. What I love most about this blog is that there are pictures from places I’ve been in Kenya, Cambodia, Haiti, and India. Many of you who might read this have been to these places as well.  What was your experience?

Here’s the link: The Boston Globe – Slum Life

Kibera Slums, Nairobi Kenya – Taken 2006 by Gary and Katherine Weston

Kibera Slums, Nairobi Kenya – Photo by Gary and Katherine Weston

Kids in Kibera Slums – Photo by Ashley Musick

Kids from the slums of Cairo, Egypt – 2006, by Ashley Musick

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5 thoughts on “Slum Life

  1. I just got back from teaching a marketing course to a group of aspiring social entrepreneurs from around the world. They are all interested in alleviating or at least impacting the impoverished rates in their communities and countries. The training took place at the Digital Divide Data offices in Cambodia. I was exposed to the local culture and learned about many more from the participants.

    My greatest takeaway from teaching and experiencing a new location was my misconceptions. I believed that I would be a target of theft and violence. Instead I was greeted by great kindness and acceptance everywhere I went. I know that isn’t the experience for everyone people but I was impressed by how open and friendly people were of all income levels. The positive memories motivate me to stay involved.

    • Thanks for reading Lindsey! Don’t you just love Cambodia? I have some really great friends who are over there trying to make a difference. While we were there in 2009 we went to “rubbish mountain.” It’s basically a slum inside the capitol where everyone lives on top of huge trash mounds. They live in the dump. In the midst of the dump they had life, family, and a passion to work and earn something better. I appreciated the people there so much. It’s important to stay involved for the sake of those people that you met on your trip. Stay plugged in! Here’s a great organization: http://www.daughtersofcambodia.org/

  2. Everything within me wants to say “ERADICATE POVERTY”…but is that even possible? Why did Jesus say “the poor you will always have…” was that an expression of hopelessness, reality check or was he just using that as a comparison to himself (“but you will not always have me.”) I think that deep down, there IS poverty (so the philosophical may not be of much value) and I think it’s the body of Christ’s responsibility to address it. James 2 says “Religion that is pure and faultless is this: look after orphans and widows in their distress.” Be father’s to the fatherless, take in strangers for maybe you’re entertaining angels unaware. It’s not just a problem to fix, it’s PEOPLE we deem important. And that’s worth considering.

    • I mean, I’m kind of the eternal optimist… I believe in this particular statement Jesus was using the idea of having the poor around in comparison to the time he would be with them. I think that a complete eradication of poverty is out of the question just because of the power of human choices. The blanket of extreme poverty can be stopped. These slums, with enough action, can disappear. It is the body of Christ’s responsibility to do it. That was our charge. I posted a video on this blog not to long ago that stated the combined income of the Christians in American would give us a seat at the G8… meaning we would be one of the most powerful “nations” in the world. With those kind of resources,then there is really no excuse. We have to start caring enough to do something. Good thoughts Jimmy. : )

  3. Coming from someone who lives in an area of pretty extreme poverty I can tell you that the problems created by poverty are very multi-faceted. It’s not something that can be alleviated with one simple solution. Living in these sorts of conditions strips families of their sense of dignity. They need to be given dignity once again and the ability to dream for their futures. Also, when you have been living your entire life in a state of survival constantly living hand-to-mouth, you have never been taught to save or to plan ahead financially (that’s a luxury given to those who aren’t worried everyday how they will feed their children that night). You end up with a lot of hasty financial decisions made or families that are constantly living with an ever-growing debt. In most areas of extreme poverty education is non-existent or schools provide a poor quality of education. There needs to be educational reform for those areas or schools put in place. Often times kids aren’t able to attend school because they have to work to help support their families or fall behind due to untreated illnesses. These children need help entering into school and then removing the barriers that would cause them to leave. However, even with improved education, people cannot rise up their poverty without job opportunities. In my area, unemployment rates and sky high. If families have work, it is usually for only 6 months (planting/harvesting season for the sugar cane). The work is extremely difficult manual labor and is causing kidney failure at alarming rates. Until there are more jobs available there isn’t much motivation to seek education. Then there are issues of water and health care. If your water is contaminated, who wants to drink it. However, if you work 12 hours shifts in 100 degree weather and don’t drink water, your kidneys are going to shut down (which is why so many people here are dying of renal failure). You also have people who have no access or very limited access to health care. I have seen people die regularly or diseases or infections that could be easily treated in the States. Health in general is poor in most areas of extreme poverty. Families don’t have options for eating healthy foods- fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. are much more expensive than the carbs that most people living in poverty eat for every meal. Sorry I know that this response is getting to be ridiculously long, but you can see my point that the problem is really complex. I do believe that the church is called to care for the widows and the orphans to move towards the eradication of poverty. I believe with you Ashley, that extreme poverty does not have to continue! There is no reason that the church in the nations that have so much should stand idly by while their brothers and sisters around the world are literally starving to death or fighting to survive. I believe that if the whole body joins together (like the early church in Acts) that there would be enough to meet the basic needs of everyone, but it will mean a great deal of sacrificing all the extra comforts to which we’ve grown accustomed.

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