In today’s world, we often times hear horror stories about being homeless. People then go on to share these stories on their social media profiles. Occasionally, one story will go viral. Another will raise a few eyebrows. But, in general, people have short memories. Even the stories that go viral often “lose steam” and become irrelevant. And – it’s even worse than this. While it’s nice that people are talking about poverty, does this actually translate into action?
On the surface, it certainly seems so. In 2014, close to $360 billion were donated in the US alone. However, it’s not so simple. While many of these donations come from individual households (which is promising to see), it doesn’t necessarily mean that poverty rates are dropping. On the contrary. As the total dollar amount of donations increase, so does the poverty rate. So, what gives?
Unfortunately, many people unknowingly donate to organizations where most of the charitable money goes to everything but charity for the poor. Every organization has overhead costs. This is something that many people don’t take into account when donating. Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, on the other hand, has very little overhead costs; most of the money donated goes directly to charity. What this does is it directly affects the poverty rate for the worse as most of the money goes to everything but charity.
Additionally, people are under the assumption that they are donating and doing good. This causes them to continue to talk about poverty but the right measures and actions aren’t being taken. The right course of action is always education. But, how do you educate the educated? A good start is to volunteer. However, equally as important is putting yourself in one’s shoes. The issue with this is: how do you get someone to live temporarily like a homeless person? You don’t. It’s out of the realm of reality. Thus, people don’t really understand what it’s really like to be homeless.
Allow us to Explain
Before we start, we would like to make one thing, already mentioned above, clear. No amount of words will help people really understand what poverty is truly like. With that said, we have a responsibility to educate as many people as possible.
Many people are under the assumption that poverty is mainly about a lack of food and necessities. This is certainly true, but there are feelings attached to this that are far worse than poverty itself. One of the worst things for homeless people isn’t even the lack of food; it’s the lack of feeling of security or belonging. Many homeless people feel like a failure. These feelings can further drive serious mental health issues (depressions, stress, anxiety, etc.), especially in children. Poverty puts severe restrictions on social life – for both adults and children.
It is common for homeless people to frequently jump around from place to place. It is almost a given that they will forego at least one meal per day (and many times two). There is no ‘home base.’ Even homeless people who have access to various shelters – their stays are oftentimes cut short while food supplies are limited. And if you’re a family with children? It’s hard to feel a sense of happiness at any point during the day. Imagine living in a depressed state of mind 24/7. This is what many homeless people experience daily, for years on end.
The Yad Ezra V’Shulamit Program
We don’t claim to have all the answers. Poverty is a tricky “subject” and is even difficult for our staff to fully grasp. At the end of the day, we are not the ones in the situation. And though we experience it day in and day out through our volunteering, it is not us who live in this constant state of homelessness. However, we do our best to relieve some of these feelings with our various programs – for both adults and children. Our program are specifically aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty once and for all. Education, in addition to job placement, is a great start. Throughout the years, we have been fortunate enough to have helped thousands of individuals in Israel. And as we currently see it, this is just the beginning to completely eradicating poverty.