Poverty can mean a lot of things. I have now spent 4 months in a country that is on the top of the lists when it comes to materialistic poverty in the world. But the people in this country are spiritually and emotionally rich in my opinion. So what does it really mean to be poor?
In general my experience from this people is that it’s more important with a big heart than a big house. It’s more important to show love than expensive accessories. It’s more important to eat Gods word then three meals a day. Even though some not always have a choice when it comes to clean clothes and food, they are still generous with what they have. A helping hand or some heart touching words are never hard to find.
When we take the bus to work or walk in the streets here in Antananarivo, a child often comes up and asks for food money. How do you turn down a child that apparently is starving. How do you turn down an elderly that clearly don’t have a shower or the possibility to wash their clothes. We were told to not give money to beggars because then they will just keep begging, and some don’t want to get a job since they get money on the street.
My thoughts about poverty have changed the last months. I went through a period of culture shock when the materialistic poverty in this country hit me. It hit me when I realized that economical safety is something unknown for the majority of the malagasy population. I am used to the safety we get in Norway where you always can take a loan, or get support from NAV if something happens. But here there is nothing called economical support. If something happens you have to deal with it, with the sources you have. Your children has to go out of school and work, or you have to sell the house and live in a hut. So lately I have had more sympathy for the children and families living on the street. Now I give money to people singing or playing instruments for money, and I’m trying to smile and say hello even though that makes it even harder to walk away.