When I used to think of poverty, I would imagine cardboard boxes on the street, beggars at intersections, and tattered clothing. But in truth, poverty is so much more than what can be seen at a stoplight. I attended a poverty simulation at Tyler Junior College in spring of 2015, and it changed my entire perception of the poverty around me.
Everyone at the simulation was grouped into bunches of three or four people. After we had been seated into these groups, one of the presenters began a video. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops created a video so that people like you and me can get a better idea of what life in poverty is really like. You can view this video at usccb.org, I strongly recommend it.
As baffling as it may be, people in poverty generally pay 1/3 more than the average household because the only houses they can afford don’t have enough insulation. While having a decent long standing relationship with a utilities company can eventually get reduced rates, it certainly seems impossible to keep good standing long enough when you can’t afford regularly priced utilities.
Anyway, as the simulation began, everyone within a group was assigned a role. For example, in my family, I was a five year old boy. But some of the others of my group were dealtthe role of parents, and all the responsibilities of taking care of the group. In my position, I truly began to feel hopeless, stuck at school unable to work like my “mom” to keep bills paid, while my disabled “father” could not do much more than pawn any valuable belongings. Throughout the simulation, each group had rent, utility bills, and varying surprise expenses. One group may receive a traffic ticket, another might win $200 on a lottery ticket.
We had to attempt to stay afloat. Some groups became homeless. “Families” had to split apart due to lack of vacancy at the homeless shelter. The frustration was real. At the end of the simulation, different groups spoke about how the simulation affected them. The man who simulated a pawn shop owner admitted to being appalled at how easily he stopped caring about his impoverished customers, becoming consumed in the greed of how much money he could make.
There is a way to end the war on poverty. It starts with helping others. Poverty comes from more than a few late bills or bad decisions. Poverty comes when those who need help are turned away, or left to fend for themselves. You can make a difference. To find out how, please visit usccb.org.
This is a test… maybe a poverty test… although probably not.