Awareness About Poverty
The World Bank reports that global poverty rose in 2020 as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total number of impoverished people to more than 700 million. Poverty is a cyclical problem — the limited access to proper education and future income draws the next generation into similar circumstances of impoverishment. Reducing poverty begins with awareness of poverty. Three recently published books are raising awareness about poverty, leaving readers educated and inspired to fight against poverty.

Dissolving Misconceptions Through Books

The lack of public awareness of poverty and its detrimental effects has led to many widely held misconceptions. Global Citizen discusses the root of misconception — misinformation, which is “powerful enough to derail the real narrative around poverty, the people who experience it and the fight to end it.”

Misconceptions also can influence the actions of citizens and influential decision-makers. Working to end poverty worldwide begins by eliminating misconceptions and educating society on the true causes and effects of this global issue. Both realistic portrayals of poverty in fiction novels and informative nonfiction books covering poverty can be helpful tools to begin identifying and deconstructing harmful misconceptions.

3 Books that Raise Awareness About Poverty

  1. “The Poverty Line” by Stefen Chow and Huiyi Lin. Published in late 2021, “The Poverty Line” examines poverty regarding food. Authors Stefen Chow and Huiyi Lin traveled to 36 countries and territories to discern the food they could afford each day living on the poverty line set by that country’s government. The authors published and compared photographs of the obtainable food to give readers a visual of global poverty. With 150 million more people suffering from hunger between 2019 and 2022, it is evident that global food insecurity is rising. This is primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of climate change and conflict. Though poverty is often hard to define and visualize, Chow and Lin bring to life what poverty means in different countries through their photographs and elicit the sympathy of readers. The authors’ aim for the book is to give readers “an increased awareness about poverty and food issues in countries around the world and engage in discussion with others.”
  2. “Beyond Poverty” by Terry Dalrymple. Published in 2021, this book encourages readers to think beyond single community projects and begin movements that will transform multiple villages. Dalrymple discusses the “growing network of ministries” utilizing the Community Health Evangelism (CHE) strategy to transform the lives of those living in poverty across the world. The CHE movement looks to “promote Christ-centered wholistic development through empowerment strategies that avoid unhealthy dependencies” and combines spiritual well-being with efforts to impact community development and health in order to bring generations out of the cycle of poverty. CHE initiatives are based on eight outcomes: shared vision, leadership, ownership, cooperation, volunteers, dignity, learning and community.
  3. “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo. Named one of Time magazine’s 10 best nonfiction books of the decade, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” examines the lives of those living in Annawadi. This small slum exists in Mumbai and began in 1991 as authorities commissioned workers for repairs to the Mumbai airport runway. These workers, from Tamil Nadu, packed into this slum in hopes of finding future construction jobs. The book’s name originated from a large concrete wall, covered in cheerful slogans, that blocked the slum from the view of the upper class headed to the airport. One of these slogans was “Beautiful Forever,” which inspired the name of the book “Behind the Beautiful Forevers.” Boo walks the reader through the lives of some of the most impoverished residents of the Annawadi slums. Annawadi and other slums worldwide still face many of the same struggles of day-to-day survival that Boo touches on.

From Awareness to Action

Without action, awareness about poverty is futile in the fight against poverty. Therefore, it is essential when reading to identify and define actionable and achievable goals based on the information gathered.

Misconceptions surrounding poverty remain in the minds of many. Therefore, it is critical to dissolve these misconceptions and inspire people to get involved in humanitarian work to better the lives of the people whose stories the books raising awareness about poverty capture.

– Brooklynn Rich
Photo: Flickr

What Is The Poverty Line?Determining what the poverty line is and who lives below it is a task often left to international organizations. It requires much analysis and research as well as a substantial amount of estimation. That’s exactly what propelled husband and wife pair Stefen Chow and Hui-yi Lin to travel the world, combining their passions and professions, to document how much food someone living on the poverty line can actually buy.

Stefen is a photographer while his wife Hui-yi is an economist. From their frequent traveling, both had become affected by the vast differences between not only the rich and poor but the differences between the poor in each country. The question and this mission became to document what it really meant to be poor.

Although calories are the same around the world, how much can $4.91 buy-in America compared to 64 cents in Madagascar? Through their investigation, the couple spoke with the poor, trying to gain real insight into how they shop for their food. They took into account the basic essentials such as grains, fish, and vegetables but also included food such as candy and more extravagant meats to see how much could be bought in each country.

Going through the markets, Stefen Chow would photograph each amount of food against a newspaper. When asked why he chose this specific setting, he responded that as a photojournalist, the newspaper was merely a product of the artistic process. His focus was on poverty and before visiting each country, they only had in mind the set currency amount they had to work with and nothing else.

Recently, their website received a makeover. It is absolutely amazing how interactive it is with all prices listed in USD. Site visitors can easily see how much meat could be bought in Switzerland, a country whose food allowance for those at the poverty line is $10.25, compared to Nepal, where the poor are expected to survive on 45 cents per day. Images are separated based on developed countries, developing countries, food groups, and even processed or unprocessed foods.

Simple awareness through such well-assembled visual representation will no doubt bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the site. It may shock some while confirming the assumptions of others. It can also exemplify a need for policy changes in certain countries where controversy exists whether the set caloric intake as well as money allocated to food is enough for someone to survive on.

– Deena Dulgerian
Source: BBC
Photo: The Poverty Line