Friday, August 7, 2009

Deprived of sunlight

Momentary or monetary Eclipse?

"No school today" the sorrowful words of my young friend strike my heart with their puerile and brutal honesty. They reflect realities of the young and beckon the memories of the old to remembrance. Promptly continuing the tale - "the teacher wanted fifty thousand. we have none." - the words delivered without a sign of hesitance and are embroidered with a subtle and sincere sadness .

Chirps of a bird carried on the cool July Breeze form a sorrowful melody - perhaps on any other day, amongst any other moment in time, the simple beauty of the bird's voice would embody happiness. Yet amongst the turmoil the notes take on a melancholy meaning. Memories of a Canadian childhood where school was not only available, but also enforced, clash with reality in Twapia. Five grades of school were already a sacrifice for the family; a sacrifice made of love and hope, of opting to spend kwacha on education rather than whatever it is adults desire to spend money on.

"Education is key for a good life. I only have grade 3, no not my children. For white collar jobs they need education. You see, food is good, but education is better." explained the father.

Somewhere in this train of sacrifice and dreaming there was a breakdown - the tracks ended. Reality can no longer sate the dreams of the father, no matter how simple it may be to want to send a child to school. How is it that hard work has lead to this? What of the families with no jobs - can they send their children to school?

Preternatural predator?

Poverty is vicious - veiled arms reach into every aspect of life - for me it is beyond comprehension, anytime I can think of "need or want" in my life it is superficial and trite compared to this family, or any other family's abyss of no opportunity. This lack of opportunity is an embodiment of poverty that is a low hanging fruit - it's easy to identify and easy to write about.

Asking various people within Twapia about poverty does not render any single answer. No universal household to household description has been discovered yet. Is there a symbolic representation of poverty?

Death has long been portrayed as the grim reaper; skeletal form draped in a dark cloak carrying a cruel scythe to harvest the souls of those whose time amidst the living has expired. Can poverty be portrayed so symbolically? Are these stories, these remarks of starving families and unschooled children the grim reaper portrayal of poverty?


  1. I do not understand what needs of the poor people are. They want high clothes and other things, which the rich have? They want high meal? The automobiles? Or the social status is important? But the social status is only idea, dodge of culture. Or it is the true famine, absence of house... What is the poverty?

  2. To quote one of my friends in Twapia: "Poverty is when I am going somewhere on the road and something goes bad. BOOM. It hits me. I can't go far. Without poverty I go far"

    Another friend - "Poverty is not having good* food, not having a house, not having clothes. How can I become something else with out these?"

    *good refers to more than one nutritious meal per day.