Poverty is not knowing all the things I know. Here, in the migrant camps, all the basic information that I take for granted that I know, and can access, is wealth. All the reading I have done on nutrition, childbirth, parenting, how people learn, child development, here, they are gold.
If you took all my money away I would still be wealthy beyond words, because I have information in my brain: I taught an expecting mother what her baby looks like inside her uterus this week, what a placenta is, how the baby is nourished and what happens after she is born. It was amazing! Mind blowing. She didn’t know these basic things. She didn’t know that the umbilical cord comes out after birth, along with the placenta. She didn’t know that it doesn’t hurt her or the baby when the umbilical cord is cut. She didn’t know that she should eat protein to keep the baby strong.
Other things I just know that most of the people I meet here don’t.
The list goes on.
Parents don’t know how to help their children’s brains grow and develop. They don’t know that it helps a child to listen to them and answer their questions. They don’t let children explore and learn from the things around them. I know this because when I teach my class on how parents are teachers, and can help children to grow smarter and better equipped by talking to them and listening, and engaging with their children by showing an interest in what they are learning, they tell me that this is a very new way of thinking. They tell me what is usually done, it often involves hitting children for making mistakes. I get to watch their faces as the interpreter speaks and can see as the thought takes hold.
I am wealthy because I am able to look at a problem, like water dripping somewhere it shouldn’t, analyze why that is happening, and then come up with ideas that would fix it. I can do analysis. I can think about something and understand why it’s happening and then understand how to change that something if I want to.
It seems pretty basic to a westerner, but it is not basic here. People don’t do analysis. They don’t try and understand why something is the way it. That’s just the way it is. There is no way to change it, even if it is harmful.
I am rich! And it has nothing to do with money.
Everything I teach is a gift. Every bit of information I pass on is wealth.
And that’s why we do community education.
Without education, none of the material aid we provide will make a lasting difference. We teach the adults, the parents, in order to be able to have a larger impact on the children, so that the next generation will have these things we take for granted.