As an American college student, it was pretty easy for me to fall into the the mindset of “they don’t know what they are missing out on, so they are happy with less.” Then I met Jamal.
Jamal was the same age as me and loved all things American. His dirty clothes and borrowed bed told the story of poverty, but his mind raced with the desires of the American life he saw on TV. We both loved music. Going to local shows and spending time together, I realized how similar we were. He was not some poor village boy, shielded from the desires of the world, blissfully unaware of his poverty. He was hurting. That was the first time I put a face on the word “poverty”… and then held up a mirror to look at my own.
Jamal’s story expanded my view of poverty and helped me to make the mental shift from “me and them” to “we.”
When I met Jamal I was participating in a study abroad semester in East Africa with Food for the Hungry. We were studying poverty and economic development. Though I had an theoretical understanding of poverty – it took a personal story for my heart to begin to understand.
What does poverty look like to you?