What It Feels Like to Be Truly Poor

truly poor


Poor Middle Class Is Not Truly Poor

Being truly poor was something I had no idea about before I put the pieces together for this blog post. Living in fear of not having enough to eat is not poverty. It is a poor middle class fear. On the other hand, having to go without food is truly poverty. What the family in this story goes through is completely alien to me. I am simply part of a growing US phenomenon, the Poor Middle Class. By the standards of the people in this story, I am very rich.

This prize winning video, Reel Time: Bone Dry: Winner of 2013 Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award
(Produced by GMA Network, Philippines) is a Philippine documentary on child malnutrition as well as the shocking living conditions of the truly poor.

To quote the YouTube.com description, “This documentary tells the story of Mary Rose, a girl from a very poor family living in a slum. Although Mary is 10, her height and weight are comparable to that of a 5-year old child. She lives with her five siblings, who have all been diagnosed as severely malnourished. Mary’s mother, Vina, earns less than a half a US dollar a day, and has to single-handedly provide for her six children.”

Mary Rose is small and underweight for her age due to malnutrition. But she is big in spirit, insightful and strong with determination. She has two dreams in life, to get an education, she wants to be a doctor, and to eat chicken meat. Imagine never having tasted more than the broth from a chicken but not the meat. Think about going to school without having eaten and falling asleep in class. In addition, Vina, Mary Rose’s mother does not waste money to buy soap because that takes money away from buying food for her children. Imagine any of these and watch this deeply stirring video. Then you will know in your heart, and feel in the pit of your stomach, what it must be like to be truly poor.

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Resources for the Middle Class Poor

social justice advocate

Are you part of the Middle Class Poor? We are. How did it happen? What are we doing about it? These are the two questions I will answer in this blog post.

photo of Randi Shubin Dresner
Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO of Island Harvest
I’d like to make a few points about being Middle Class Poor. We are not alone. The problem is increasing. The government plans to have less involvement in helping to solve this problem. For example, as illustrated in her article, Hunger is all around us, yet it doesn’t have to be, Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO of Island Harvest explains what is going on. Her post starts with the following statement, “The recent vote by Congress to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — the food stamp program known as SNAP — over the next 10 years is alarming. If these cuts become law, those who are already struggling to afford food will be thrust into further hardship, increasing hunger across America and right here on Long Island.”

Because the problem is increasing and the government will have less to do with solving it, we will have to find alternative resources to solve it ourselves. That is a big part of the reason for the title of this post and the creation of a Facebook group, Resources for the Middle Class Poor. There are many private donors and nonprofit resources, like the Island Harvest Food Bank that are currently helping people.

Island Harvest website
Island Harvest website

Right now, I would like to go back to the question, how did it happen? For us, the answer is simple, ‘2008’. In the same week, my husband was laid off from his job and the stock market crashed. The fallout from that led to my own crash, physically and emotionally. I was hospitalized and became unable to work. Our lives have changed dramatically in the last five years. We had savings, we had security and we thought we had stability. The rug was completely pulled out from under us. We went from being middle class to being middle class poor.

The upside of having our lives turned upside down is that our new lives have brought us extraordinary challenges and opportunities that we never imagined experiencing. Sometimes it has been terrifying. But the more we go through, the more miracles we have received and the stronger we become. Our fear has been replaced with faith. We are inspired to pass on to others what we are learning as we help ourselves navigate our new path as part of the Middle Class Poor.

For more resource information, refer to my facebook page and group shown below.

My husband volunteers working with others and is actually studying to become credentialed in a helping field. I have gone completely wild applying my years of social media marketing studies to using social media as a communication tool for this serious, real life issue. I have created numerous facebook pages including, The Middle Class Poor and the companion group, Resources for the Middle Class Poor. As we help ourselves to grow into our new state of existence, we are working to help others who are in situations similar to ours. Together we will change the world. It may only be our world. But as Ghandi is credited with saying, ‘Be the change in the world you want to see’.

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