Full Disclosure
October 13, 2006

Your role in poverty alleviation – the consciousness of self help

Part 2

In the recent article, ‘Your role in poverty alleviation’, the writer alluded to the fact that, poverty alleviation should be founded on the development of a consciousness among our people, that we can in turn use to better ourselves. This consciousness according to the late John F Kennedy, focuses on ‘change as the law of life’, and warns those who look only to the past or present, as the future is certain to miss them.

As a Vincentian people, our economy which is almost totally dependent on agriculture and tourism, has suffered its share of injustices. This has directly or indirectly affected, us as a people, and for some, remaining in a state where, we are bent on looking at the negatives as our new and main focus. How are we to move forward with that attitude?{{more}}

Human well-being is multi-dimensional and goes beyond income and opulence. As certain as the future is, it only comes one day at a time, and there is much that we have to do each day with regards to poverty alleviation as a collective, but more so individually. Whilst we may not suffer poverty to the extent of extreme deprivation of well-being, or the deprivation of basic capabilities, including: good health, education, not feeling ashamed to appear in public and security from extreme events, there is still a significant number of people worldwide who are insecure, in poor health, illiterate, malnourished and who die prematurely.

If we are to address this problem effectively, then our point of departure should be a focus on the family, and its importance as a partner in laying the bricks towards building a foundation that fosters the growth of a consciousness in the children who are the future of our nation. It is not merely the family’s responsibility to provide the basics of food, clothing and shelter. As the primary and foremost institution that children are entrusted, it is paramount that the parents, both mother and father, provide staunch examples for their children to live by, provide security, infuse high-quality morals, values and principles and invest in their futures. Whilst our government has made strides in providing assistance to those in pursuit of a post-secondary education, there is an indelible need for investment by parents towards the potential educational goals of the next generation of Vincentians who will be in leadership.

We have far too long been grounded in the culture of ‘tomorrow will fight for itself’. Let us start now. The basics of personal money management and investment need not be sought after from a financial advisor. Especially in a time as such, common sense alone would spell out clearly the rising costs on a consistent basis. This factor should propel us even further towards saving and investing a portion of our earnings in an effort to eradicate poverty. Poverty alleviation is not only a task for the government; it is also the job of the people. Personal money management and investment should be taught as a part of the school curriculum. As parents, be aware that you can raise financially sound children from preschool through to high school and instill financial values that last a lifetime.

Having a budget means that you are financially astute and are more likely to live a balanced life. It allows you to plan ahead and prioritize according to your earnings. This will in effect reduce the debt syndrome that plagues most in the absence of a budget. Even the Bible acknowledges that debt has its consequences – Proverbs 22:7 states that, the rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender. Chronic borrowers have to work, not for themselves but for someone else. The turnaround of this situation lies in budgeting and living within your earnings.

On the other hand, some may be convinced that there is nothing in terms of employment that is available. Work was created by God on the underlying principle that if one does not work, one will not eat and rightly so for the sole purpose of self-sustenance. Realistically, there may not be something that appeals to you as a form of work. However, this does not mean that you cannot exchange your time for money if you are without. There is always a little that one can do as work, intently for money.

There is no shortage in the availability of land for farming. There exists the potential to feed oneself and the nation through produce and creation of a market that is viable. We must therefore continue to use the resources available to us effectively and efficiently. To this end buying local products will support family farmers and our local markets.

As a community, investing as a people will prove that we are fully capable of exhibiting examples of economic consciousness, altruism, diversity, fairness and equality. All of these social values lead to the preservation and growth of cooperation and harmony within our community. The sum of these efforts will all add up to a move in the right direction, towards a St Vincent that has a consciousness among its people, that we are in turn using to better ourselves and being situated one step closer to realizing that each day is an opportunity to embrace a future liberated from the strong hold of poverty.

In next week’s article we will begin to focus on our national independence.