How Do Our Children See Poverty?
I wonder what the 285,000 children who are living in poverty in our country think about the world they live in? They could be asking the following:
- Why do I have to have breakfast at school and not at home?
- Why do my parents struggle to pay for food when they have jobs?
- Why does my mum earn so little money when she is a hard worker and does important work?
- Why are my parents often stressed and arguing?
- Why can't we live in a nice house that isn't damp and cold?
- Why do I have to share a bed with my little brother when he keeps me awake night with his coughing and makes me feel tired at school?
- Why do schools in the rich end of town have so much more stuff than our school?
- Why did the girl in our class, who finds school work really hard, get her help cut because her frustration stops me from learning and uses all my teacher's time?
- Why can't I have a computer at home to do my homework so I can get good marks?
- Why is my teacher and school being blamed for my lack of progress when it is my ear infections and poor health that makes learning difficult for me?
- Why are beneficiaries described as bad people when my mum is one and she looks after my sick Grandma and me well and is a really kind person?
- Why did my mum cry when I lost my new shoes at school?
- Why are so many children sick or hurt in my class?
- Why did my dad have to use someone called a 'loan shark' to fix the car so he could get to work?
- Why does my report say that I am below the Standards and I am not very successful when I work as hard as I can and am really good at sport, singing and making things.
- Why are some families really rich and my family is very poor?
- Why doesn't the Government want to know how many children are poor so that they can help us better?
- Why can't my mum take time off work to look after me when I'm sick?
- Why can't my family eat all the interesting fruit and vegetables that I see on display in the supermarket?
- Why did we stop getting fresh fruit at school?
- Why did the teacher aid, who used to help me with my learning, have to stop helping me?
- Why did my brother kill himself and make us all really sad?
- Why was my school closed, when it was a really good school, and yet rich schools get saved?
- Why is my language and culture not valued?
The really sad thing is that many children won't be asking these questions because in the communities they live in many others are experiencing the same. For 285,000 children the unacceptable is normal. For a small country with an abundance of food and natural resources this is a shameful reality. Many accuse this Government of a lack of empathy and I do wonder how they can do so little about child poverty if there isn't some truth in that accusation. If we have another three years under such an uncaring regime I wonder how many more children will be excluded from having their basic needs met?