Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty in Egypt and what goes behind the scenes

You may be amazed by the enormous number of poor people living in Egypt, and that’s what you’ll find out in the formal statistics given by our government.

Believe me, reality is more catastrophic and the numbers are increasing not the opposite!

The standard of living here in Egypt, especially in the main cities like Cairo and Alexandria is becoming very high day after day and the government is not having an effective control over the prices.

Salaries and wages are very miserable and pathetic and nearly don’t cover buying a family’s monthly share of bread.

Poverty is the general word, but what goes under it is more than you can ever count.

Let’s start with the main needs of a human being and a respectable citizen in his country… Food and water.

There are still many villages that are not supplied with water pipes or even any source of clean water, as for the water in the main cities, it’s highly saturated with lead and high amount of chlorine that comes while filtering, and that makes it very unhealthy to drink or cook with directly from the tap.

So it’s only available for the rich and the upper middle class to have high quality filters at their homes or buy bottles of mineral water.

What goes for the water goes for the food.

People become very sick and may get cancer or other strange viruses (that are spread nowadays) due to the cheap and unhealthy kinds of food they get. There are chemicals found in the vegetables, other places sell rotten meat and chicken to the poor. That’s beside the bread that looks like the pill of aspirin, only the pill is cleaner, and the way people get bread is very humiliating and weary.

The second thing is Education and job vacancies.

Many kids get out of school and flee to work and support their families when they’re still very young and those are so many (countless), besides of course they have no qualifications that’ll help them find a good job in the future.

Even those who finish school and sometimes a two years or 4 years institution are given the low jobs and of course the very low salaries.

Third is housing, where more than 30 million poor people are living in a very small tin houses placed randomly all around the capital, Cairo in a very anarchistic way. They rarely get any kind of services which includes electricity, water, gas, transportation, and clean roads and sewage system.

One of the shocking examples are those people who were living in El-Doweiqua neighborhood over the Mokattam hill which collapsed over it’s residents killing most of them under the rocks last month.

Many people are living in the graveyard and have lived there all their lives as well.

The places where poverty is at its peak, the rate of crimes, murders, theft, and rape increases as well and ignorance makes people’s behavior less civilized and vagabond.

The images of poverty here in Egypt are countless; those were just a small sample of a numerous examples of the people’s sufferings.

So, not only to focus on that black image, I have to mention that many NGOs in the last 5 years whose work is based mainly for helping the poor is so much dependent on the efforts of young volunteers and the help of the civil society. They are widening their activities every year and needs participation everyday.

I will discuss later some of the ideas that encourage you start helping the poor and affecting their lives.

So what can a normal person do to help eliminating poverty in his country?!

Well, I guess first we have to be very aware of poor people around us. They’re increasing in our country, so if you visit places and neighborhoods where they live (But of course in groups, and in the morning), you can join volunteers in an organization or a charity group that serves the needs of the poor starting from food and supplies to education and better jobs. You’ll see what I’m talking about from the stories of the people themselves, from their faces and their words.

Finally, if the people here stopped cheating, lying, and stealing the country’s money. If everyone paid his/her duties towards his homeland and felt responsible for raising our nation. If everyone stopped throwing garbage in the street, respected the people whether poor or rich, and accomplished his/her work perfectly… we’ll live a better life and poverty will definitely come to an END!

P.S. I’ll search and put a list this weekend with all the NGOs that you can join here in Egypt, which are concerned with serving the poor.

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