Thursday, June 2, 2011

On Clothes Shopping and Poverty

On Monday I bought some clothes - the first time since before March 9, Ash Wednesday.  I had promised my daughter and her friend that we would take a "girls' day" and go shopping when they returned home from college.  I didn't buy much - two t-shirts (one a solid white), a pair of denim capris, and a sun dress.  After I returned home, I sorted through my closet and drawers, eliminating those items that didn't fit well, those that were beyond their "use by" date, and those that I just didn't wear.  I felt pangs of guilt as I discarded clothing (actually turned into rags) that I knew people in other countries would be glad to have and wear.  But it's not socially accepted to wear stained or torn clothing in our country.  Why?  Because we're rich beyond belief.  

Many of my regular readers know about my connection and work with Haiti.  Words and even pictures don't do Haiti justice.  You have to see it to believe it.  And I know that there are many other places in the world that are just as heartbreaking.  Recently, a (I suppose) well-meaning family member sent me one of those forwarded emails that I detest.  This one was particularly offensive as it talked about how the original author could not understand how "our" (American) good money was shipped overseas to help children in other countries when we have children in need in our own country.  I saw red when I got this email.  I wanted to find a picture of an overweight, low-income child in America and contrast it with a skeletal. starving child in Haiti.  There's just no comparison.

This morning I spent some time reading this blog by Kat, a woman who is blogging about her visit to the Philippines for Compassion International.  In this blog post, Kat begins by talking about her need to redecorate her bathroom, then she shifts gears and tells the story of her visit to Rose Ann's house.  She says, "It was so hard for me to fathom that we were not pretending…that this was Rose Ann’s daily life. It was her future as far as she could see.
It was just one day for me. Only about 25 minutes actually. But everyday she wakes up in that room. A room she could cross in a single step."  Kat is no longer concerned about redecorating her bathroom.  
And I've come to feel the same way about many things in my life, including clothes shopping.  In the United States, it's easy to get caught up in the spiral of wants because we're not exposed to the people with true needs.  Plus we are daily exposed to messages that tell us that we don't have enough...of anything and everything.  We need more and better and faster and newer.  Take a few minutes to read Kat's blog, watch some of the YouTube videos, learn about poverty in your country and abroad.  And then take steps to do something about it.


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

And here I am with my 3 large sacks to take to donations (photo to come because I really am quite shocked at the fact that I could easily fill 3 large sacks + that does not include the pile of items for friends).

I did not watch the videos, but the stories are quite heartbreaking, and they are just one in a billion. I have to say that my only personal contact with poverty in another country is from traveling to Mexico + staying in a posh condo on the beach, when across the road is a shanty house made of corrugated metal + the beggar children, everywhere! Many in our circle of friends have traveled to Asia + often tell antidotes, many involving the level of poverty in so many places, you are right, not like here.

Cherie said...

Shona, ever notice what people in third world countries are wearing? All our discarded t-shirts. It's crazy to see an Old Navy t-shirt with an American flag on in on someone in Kenya.

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

At the Goodwill outlet I used to shop at in downtown Nashville they would have these enormous crates that were to be shipped to other countries. All our discarded clothes and shoes.

By the way, after I read your uniform post I kept on going through stuff + managed to fill another bag. AND I did get rid of that 3rd tan skirt.

Cherie said...

Shona, well done! Now I just need to do more editing...

Deanna said...

I see those comments about foreign aid on Facebook periodically and it's all I can do not to say something. Most of us in America haven't the slightest idea of what true poverty is.