Faces of Poverty

If you look, if you don’t avert your eyes, you can see the effects of poverty and trauma on a person.

One of “my” parents happened to come to the classroom this week so I could confirm she was indeed the parent of one of my students. This was so that the student could be released early to her; the parent was not carrying a picture id.

On first glance, she looks older than me. Her shoulders and body frame seem stooped, she shuffles somewhat. This day, however, as we chatted, I noticed her face. Her skin does not sag as mine does now, her eyes lack wrinkles; those wrinkles are reserved for worry spots – the brow, her forehead.

She carries the weight of her family’s problems: her husband has been in a nasty public hospital since before Christmas. Her children are her world, all four of them – she lost a fifth child a few years ago to illness. The family’s new apartment, an apartment they recently found after living in a shelter, was recently the scene of a Keystone Cops-style criminal gun chase. To hear my student tell the story the police chased a suspect right through the front door and out the back with guns drawn.

Honestly, I don’t know how this woman holds herself together. The daily barrage of trying to survive in such a hostile environment would do more than make me look older. She must be one of the most resilient of spirits that I have ever met!

And she is a face to remember. A face of poverty in our land of plenty.

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2 thoughts on “Faces of Poverty

  1. Keen observation. The faces of poverty can also be deceiving. What we knew about poverty: who it affected? Demographics? Socio-economics? Class…etc… is changing. Sometimes poverty may not be a parent in a shelter with 5 kids….poverty may be a former executive who lost his/her job in the recession, house foreclosed and became homeless and now lives in a shelter….very real story but a phenomena not always discussed. Regardless of the case, we all have to be aware of poverty and how close to home it is to all of us. The “99er “white collar individual should get as much attention as the single mother with 5 kids should.

  2. I agree with you BobbyGT, to a degree. What you are saying is true, but another truth is that many of the people who Amy is describing have no voice. They either lack the access, the system-working skills, the education or are simply afraid. I think if you or I experienced the foot-pursuit through our homes that these people did, we would be broadcasting our outrage – at someone. There is an invisible class of people of whom most people in the mainstream are unaware.

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