During my work commute, I often like to listen to podcasts instead of music. I often listen to a podcast called “48 Days” by a guy named Dan Miller. You may know him from his book, “48 Days to the Work You Love” and his company, 48 Days LLC. Dan Miller is a speaker, writer, and life coach and his niche is helping people, you likely guessed, find and do work they actually love. He’s influenced me significantly as I learned from him that’s it’s not so unreasonable to desire and even expect to do something I love for a living. You can find his website and books at 48days.net. Anyway, he does a new podcast every week and I always enjoy listening. This morning he shared something fascinating.
He shared an excerpt from article called “Stop Helping Us!” by a man named Peter Greer, the president and CEO of Hope International. You can find the article here. In his article, Greer cites a survey where he asked people living in Rwanda how they would define or explain poverty. Let’s remember that Rwanda is considered Third World by most. They are primarily rural farmer communities, though this has improved as of late. Their literacy rate has jumped roughly 20% since the nineties. Also, infant mortality rates have fallen. While about 80% has access to modern healthcare, there’s only one doctor per 50,000 people.
I pulled this information from Rwanda’s Wikipedia page which you can find here.
In light of that, here’s how a group of surveyed Rwandans define “poverty”
- Poverty is an empty heart
- Not knowing your abilities and strengths
- Not being able to make progress
- No hope or belief in yourself. Knowing you can’t take care of your family.
- Broken relationships
- Not knowing God
- Not having basic things to eat. Not having money
- Poverty is a consequence of not sharing
- Lack of good thoughts
Greer goes on in his article to assert that, in light of what these people actually consider to be poverty, our traditional methods of “giving to charity” fail to address the actual root of the problem. Money doesn’t help someone know what they’re good at nor give them hope or belief in themselves that their situation could change, Greer says.
Notice that money was mentioned only once. I find it fascinating that a developing country such as Rwanda would place so much more value on psychological and sociological values rather than simple material needs. It shows what they view as valuable and necessary and draws into question what we view as valuable and necessary for a meaningful life. Take this same concept and apply it overseas here in our world. Does the government handout help people in poverty here? I won’t draw any stark conclusions or make any bold statements from this, at least for now. Today, I only wanted to share this thought because I found it so fascinating.
What about you? What do you consider valuable or necessary for life? How would you define poverty? Let me know in the comments below.