Wednesday, April 30, 2014

International Workers' Day

The condition of workers as we approach International Workers' Day is seen in many articles in our papers and magazines. The Peace Weekly in one of the columns by a university professor recounts the story of a  woman who was the cleaning lady in a  university dormitory.  She had to travel one hour and a half to get to work. Her husband was seriously ill, and she  became the bread winner for the family. There was little  she had not done to sustain the family, and hearing about the need of a cleaning lady  at the university, she applied, and received the job. It would be a secure position, with medical insurance and  a lunch supplied, which she considered an answer to her prayers.

Happiness lasted only a short time. She had to take the first bus in the early morning to be at work by 7:30 am  and  finish at 4:30 pm. It was a 9 hour day and far from  easy. When she received her pay in her  bank book it was not what she expected. She was told by the person in charge that the time of lunch and rest was deducted for a 6 and a half hour day of work. Her lunch depended on left over food, and often she would be without a lunch. She was faced with a disappointing situation.

She was told by her friends that she should join the labor union. "This unreasonable situation has to be given voice and to search for the rights of the workers." For her this was not a possibility. She had a sick husband, a mother- in- law, and three children. Her eldest daughter, because of a lack of education,  worked as a nurse's aid in an oriental medical hospital, her son worked part  time in a market to earn his college tuition fees, and thinking of her youngest child who was preparing for college, she was frightened that she would lose even this job.

Her religion gave her hope in overcoming the difficulties she faced in eking out a living for the family. She wants to  receive a just wage for her labor. The irony of the situation, the professor reminds us, is  a  center for the education of our students in human studies, does not see those who are working in their buildings without the basic human needs, filled. She wonders how many would know about the situation, she  doesn't  think there are many.

She selects Pope Francis as one of those who has shown where his heart is; both in what he has done and what he says. His care and love for those most in need, she says, is the reason  he is so well thought of among the world's citizens. This was true of those in China's history.The concern for the least in society was always a sign of a wise ruler and one who won the respect of the people.  She also brings to our attention the president emeritus of Brazil, Lula. During his time in the presidency, he worked first of all for the lowest on the social scale and won great respect for his position not only in Brazil, but throughout the world. He  solved the countries debt and made Brazil into a strong economic country in the process.

This is what the world is looking for now in its leaders.  She hopes the teachers in our colleges and universities will be forming these kind of leaders for the future. Both Pope Francis and Lula were leaders who have shown us the preciousness of those who are poor and alienated. This concern is not to the columnist's way of thinking a difficult task. It is the way to win the  hearts of the people and a short cut in winning the trust of the citizens.

She concludes the column by saying that those who want to be considered capable in our society need to open their eyes and look  around. If one has the desire they will find the way to become a person respected by the citizens; the opportunities are all around us.

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