Now I have to disagree with Mr. Webster and I know plenty of people who could be categorized in this category yet I consider them the richest people in the world as they have their family, their friends, and their country, what else do you need? I started this blog stuff in the first place was reading about the ‘Blog Action Day’ on a couple of my regular blog hits that I do each day, thank you ladies I hope my voice is now heard by someone. I consider this as a Carbunkle hot topic and sadly I am now breaking one of my golden rules and discussing current events but bear with me please.
Fast forward to a small sleepy fishing town that is on an island off the coast of Belize and there you will find poverty but (again IMHO) is for a definition that I think that Mr. Webster needs to rethink. I have been blessed in that I have been going to San Pedro since I was very young and I have lots of Belizean friends both nationals and residents. Over those years I have had the privilege to be invited into their homes and as a child (spoiled brat) first my initial (typical US is better than you) impression is that these people live in filth and are poverty stricken. Sadly I looked at them keeping score in my mind that we had a better TV, bigger house, this and that and now I say to myself I should have been smacked in the head by someone. Two years ago one of my friends invited me, my wife and some of our traveling friends to his house and I saw a different view through the traditional US rose colored glasses and saw not poverty but a healthy family that is richer than any US housing project household in Memphis. Sure the house were 3 small rooms for a family of 5 by US standards but yet the house was clean, the beds were made; the kitchen clean and everything had a place and the house was filled with laughter, joy and love. One of our friends who were also visiting the house remarked to me that they live in 3rd world poverty to which I quickly corrected her in that the toilet worked, the lights were on and that the kids were wearing clean clothes and yes they had an outdoor shower but this is the tropics after all! Are they poor and in poverty – absolutely not, they are happy, the children are nourished and free of disease and the family structure is in place. Yet through the rose colored glasses eyes of the ‘Ugly American’ they are in poverty and I strongly disagree with that.
In my humble opinion I feel that the definition of the word poverty should say that people who live in an economic state and are not either educated or shown that there is a better way or lifestyle for them. Case in point is the San Mateo area of San Pedro Town in Ambergris Caye as this is now the point of my rather lengthy Carbunkle rambling. San Mateo is an area of the island that is above the flood plain and yet the residents of this area live in stilt housing and use versions of London bridges to commute back and forth to the rest of the island. Do these people live in poverty, I think not, they are happy, they are good people and know right from wrong yet (again IMHO) they don’t know that there is a better life out there for them. Due to the houses being on stilts and the water table being above flood plane there is no septic system so the residents are forced to use chamber pots and then empty them into the water that is above the house. The dysentery, the disease and the stench is horrible and yet the children are happy, the parents are content and this is where I think that we as educated, computer literate bloggers (still weird for me to say that) need to get involved and take action. Last month there was a public outcry from some people on the island as a small girl died from what they believe was related to the conditions of the water and area but now it has gone silent and I believe a stink should be raised! Granted money, benefits, and all kinds of raffles may help but I think that we need to focus on educating these wonderful, great people and tell them that this is not healthy and that there are other options for them on the island. There is one diamond in the rough in this area and that is the Holy Cross School that sits above the stench and is a tireless educator and patron for these residents and for those children who may not get the same opportunity as you and I would. I am not going to go into detail but I can assure you that this school, its teachers, faculty, friends and administration work tirelessly to educate the children and parents that there is a better lifestyle and living conditions for them, once they realize that money is great, but education is power will they chose to move and to better themselves. We have all heard the old Chinese proverb and I am going to close with it; Give a man a fish and you feed him for the day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Typical San Mateo housing on stilts
And where is the playground for them to play on?
San Mateo’s version of London Bridge
During the Rainy Season the roads get washed out
Please visit the following blogs to get more information as they give more of a snapshot in to the world of San Mateo.