Sunday 20 February 2011

What are you doing to help yourself?

UK, France, Germany, Sweden and US are Welfare states – a model of provision by the state, social protection delivered in conjunction with government, independent, voluntary and autonomous public services.

Outside of the above countries there is little and often no financial support available if you do not work and provide for yourself.

We have visited many countries without welfare assistance and in these countries these people work bloody hard, long hours and with little pay to survive and I mean survive...not sit back, claim benefits and moan at how the government aren’t providing them with jobs from the comfort of their social housing, with Sky on a 42inch flat screen TV. Now I know people can’t always control their circumstances and do not choose to live like this, but I don’t think anyone knows the full meaning of poverty until they have experienced it.

In Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, poverty is rife. I’m discussing these countries as I have visited and seen some of it 1st hand. Begging in these countries can be aggressive, but I’ve only been to the tourist areas where no doubt they ‘play’ on the emotions of the tourist with their spare cash and feelings of guilt, they will grab your bags at the airport in exchange for a few pence to take them to your tourist bus or follow you around with hands open, mainly kids just asking for money till you give them some to go away and take your guilt with them.

Now I am seeing things differently, living in South Africa there is poverty here and the people are very gracious about it. We pass a man every morning living in a tree, he roles his blanket up every morning at 6.30am and goes to work, he stands at the traffic lights with a selection of phone chargers, tax disc holders and tights and walks up and down the stationary cars, just holding them aloft, not trying to get people to pity him, not pestering for you to buy his stuff, just doing a job and people wind down their windows and buy things from him. There’s the woman on the side of the road near the school, who sets up her stall around the same time and lights a fire in a large drum on which she BBQs sweet corn all day, she sells mainly to the domestic servants at the end of the day on their way home from work and passes by in their cars stop and buy.

Did you know there’s a minimum wage for domestic servants depending on whether they’re full or part time, they have maternity and paternity rights and the average wage is approximately 90p an hour. They work in our big houses from 6am often walking many miles to get there and back and return late at night to their tin roof houses where the rain comes in.

So next time you sit back and complain about how unfair life is and how no one is doing anything to help you, just ask yourself this question... ’what are you doing to help yourself?’