Monday, July 20, 2020

The Blind Spots of the Welfare System

 Poverty is the reality of much of the world. We can break it down to many types: social, educational, spiritual, health, environmental, and economic, and these in all kinds of degrees. Life is difficult for many for different reasons and it is not always economic but economics has a lot to do with the way one faces life.

Korea has one of the world's best health systems and we see that Korea will shortly be one of the world's leaders in longevity and yet the elderly often live in poverty. They have sacrificed for their children and many have to live a reduced standard from what they were accustomed to.

An article in the Kyeongyang magazine brings to the attention of the readers the life of a grandmother.  She is bent over, has difficulty walking but daily goes along the side streets near her house gathering paper, old clothes, all kinds of trash.

Despite the condition of the weather early in the morning, she is wrestling with the waste in society to eke out a living for herself and family and it continues to early nightfall. When the day is done she climbs the stairs with difficulty to her 3rd floor and has about 8 dollars to show for her efforts which is more than many others because of her diligence.

The building in which she lives at one time belonged to her. They had two sons and lived harmoniously together until the husband and older son died. The younger son mortgaged the house and entered the world of business, only to fail; he lost the house to the creditor, the daughter in law left and she was left with taking care of the grandchildren. The owner of the building, knowing her situation, allowed her to continue living in the apartment. The younger son left the house and she is waiting for him to return.

She has asked the village office for a basic living allowance because of her situation but because she has a son who is able to work she is not considered in a dire situation but those in the office do give her work to do to help her to take care of the family.

The writer of the article noticed there were a number of those like the grandmother searching for trash to help their families. Since they were all doing the same thing they were competing with each other, and when they amassed the trash and found it gone they suspected the others and hostility arose among them instead of cooperation. He began to figure out ways in which they good cooperate for the good of each other.

They began to meet once a month to discuss their situation. Each one speaking about their situation and in time an understanding of each other developed.

They are now thinking of forming a league to advance their needs. They are being helped to go directly to the wholesaler where they can get a noticeably higher income from their efforts and they are helped with the transportation of their trash, all making the work easier and more profitable.

Those who are helping them are also finding satisfaction in helping the diligent and needful members of society. Efforts are continually made to find those in society for one reason or another who are living in welfare blind spots.

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