Not so long ago, I graduated law school, I was definitely excited at the prospect of being a lawyer but had a change of heart. I realized I had lost every boy I grew up with to crime, most gunned down as suspected criminals. I decided to work on youth empowerment programs and poverty alleviation programs in my hood and since most get gunned down before being taken to court I was of little help to them as a lawyer any way.
It has been four years. I have benefited, designed, implemented countless programs targeting the poor and I have had a chance to travel the World. I guess I have a lot to be thankful for and But given my personal connection and relations with the people the programs are intended to benefit I feel very frustrated when their lives remain the same. I captured my frustration in a blog titled “No More Time Outs of Poverty”.
It read in part “like many other “slum dwellers” (I so hate this phrase), I have been a beneficiary and Implementer of many youth empowerment and poverty alleviation programs. Sadly, most of them have not had a real impact on our lives – and at times – they have left us worse off despite great promises. We do get chauffeured around, have good food, interact with different people, and dream a bit about an escape from the drudgery of slum life for a while. I am not saying this break is a wholly negative experience; it means a lot to many of us. But from hundreds of such projects, all we seem to seem to get is a time out from poverty, and not a real chance to break out of poverty.
Despite the many failed efforts by poverty alleviation projects I believe we can create a world beyond poverty – a world in which every human being lives a dignified life. Poverty assaults that dignity, and it beckons the good will of others to help, especially to break the poverty cycle. Question is how we reach out to those in need without compromising their dignity. Looking at the aforementioned program, I believe most fail because they reduce us to mere vessel of needs and not authors of our own destiny.
My initial focus was working with young men. But the more I work with young women, the more I get convinced that as young women we would play an instrumental role in breaking poverty cycle. The boys sadly get shot before their 21st birthday, what of the girls; we get babies before our 21st birthday. We are not only ill equipped to be mothers, but we are to raise the children in an unforgiving environment, an environment devoid of so much especially opportunities to realize the their dreams and we have little to offer, yet from birth the children identities are curved for then by others circumstance beyond their control. How then do we raise them to transcend the circumstance they are born into?Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision