A World Without Poverty
I believe that my community must change its views on poverty in order to eliminate it.
This is the life—the beliefs, the hopes and the fears—of a Social Work intern.
Of course, in the Social Work curriculum, we learn about social problems. But, with the elite and protective atmosphere of my university, social problems for me were simply something discussed in class. Sure, there are social problems for some people out in the world somewhere, but these problems are far removed from the bubble that is my university.
The problems that seemed real were the ones that I saw in other places, like the news. I knew a lot about problems of child abuse and neglect and crime. Those were the real issues that seemed to affect my community. Those were the real issues that needed to change.
My internship, however, has opened my eyes to a problem that is often forgotten: the plight of the working poor. Our office helps eligible clients in crisis with bills. I had always thought that most people that lived in poverty had somehow put themselves in that situation: they chose not to work, or they chose to have 25 children, or they chose to live beyond their means. I am amazed at how many community members come through our doors who do work, and who don’t have 25 children, and who try to live within their means. I am shocked at how something that would be a relatively insignificant financial concern for me—like a car in need of repair—can send a family spiraling into financial crisis. I am frightened that people come through our doors that have missed just one paycheck and now they are struggling to catch up.
Unfortunately, social service organizations have limited budgets, and we cannot help everyone who is eligible. This frightens me. I wonder what happens to the families that we don’t have the funding to help. I wonder what would happen to me or any of my loved ones if we missed just one paycheck. I am terrified that all of the preparation my family and I have done to secure a stable future could fall to pieces in the same way that it has for these families.
I am afraid, but mostly, I am angry. I am angry that my community seems not to recognize the plight of these families when many in my community are themselves just one financial crisis away from being in need. I am frustrated that I don’t know what I can do to solve this problem.
Finally, I have hope. I hope that my community can learn to recognize that poverty often is not the fault of those living in it—it is the fault of the curveballs that life throws their way. I hope that once we recognize what poverty is, we can eliminate it. This I hope; this I believe.
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