human dignity When you look at this photo what do you see? Do you see the poverty? It’s there.

How about this one? Oh, there it is. It’s a bit more obvious.

And these? Do you see the poverty in these two photos? Look closely. Anything?

How about these? The poverty in them jumps out at you, doesn’t it? No?

Well, surely the poverty is apparent in these. Right?

Just a little, you say? But then you think, “They don’t look all that needy. Do these kids really need our help?”

Yes. They do. The presence of dignity doesn’t equal the absence of poverty.


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  1. Feb 17, 2011
    at 1:48 am

    I think it depends a lot on how one perceives poverty. If poverty is the lack of material possesions then in some way some of these pictures don’t say anything about poverty to me. The black girl in the blue dress looking up could be a child of fairly wealthy person in the USA. But what is poverty really? If I think of the spokes of the poverty wheel, we are all poor, until we came to Christ. The best position is to see our need for Christ….. to be poor in Spirit…. for then we can have the Kingdom of God. We all are in desperate situations without Christ. Our lives here on earth are very temporal, but what really counts is our life with God in heaven. That’s what the writer of the song Amazing Grace so well understood, when he said: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a *wretch* like me. ” (or a very poor person like me). Most likely the guy, who wrote it was financially well off. He was a slavetrader and even though he got saved, he still had all that money. (He quit his slavetrading after he got saved.)

    • K Seatter
      Feb 17, 2011
      at 8:49 am

      Well said! These photos speak the Truth to me that “Blessed are the poor… for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. Although financial poverty is evident, even more evident is spiritual wealth!! We are certainly called to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked… and we need to take that call very seriously and actually DO something about it. But the very sad reality is that many people in the “west” are financially wealthy, and spiritually poor – and as you said… the best position is to see our need for Christ.

  2. Ken M.
    Feb 17, 2011
    at 5:00 am

    When Americans think of someone from another country living in poverty we hold tightly to the image of the following. Sad looking eyes with nothing in life to smile about; dirty, tattered clothes; bloated stomachs; flies over their heads; always living in a shack to ready to blow over in the next wind storm. These pictures would surprise many people.
    I have even heard negative comments about people receiving public assistance in this country. If they’re wearing nice clothes and look decent, they’re spending our tax dollars on clothes.
    I quess people in poverty aren’t supposed to step out of our image of them.

    • Feb 17, 2011
      at 9:03 am

      Wonderful comment! I speak to a woman who begs for change in NYC and when people see that she has a cell phone (it’s an Assurance phone, you get them for free if you receive food stamps), they say the nastiest things to her. Like only those who are absolutely and sadly pathetic deserve/need love or help.

      • Beverly
        Feb 17, 2011
        at 9:41 pm

        The problem with the phone isn’t that she doesn’t deserve a phone. she does. The problem in the United States is that there are so many con artists out there and there is no sure way to discern those in need from those who aren’t. I wrestle with this constantly. I have finally decided to give only through my church and other organizations rather than to the individual beggars but still i feel guilty every time I say no for fear that I may be missing the one person who truly has a need.

    • Feb 19, 2011
      at 12:39 am

      It’s very easy to presume things when we see people in poverty. For instance, take Bolivia. When you visit the projects, you’ll notice that a lot of the children have designer clothes on that would be very expensive in the USA. It’s easy to presume that they must have gone to an expensive store and bought these types of clothes. The fact is that these clothes are extremely cheap in Bolivia. The big companies sent lots of these clothes over to Bolivia to be sold in the market place at an extremely low price and then also Bolivian companies do make these types of clothes too and they stick American type labels on them. (Copyright and trademarks are not taken very seriously in Bolivia)

      So, they are actually wearing very cheap clothes.

      As a matter of fact, when I was there, there was a big demonstration by the locals to not allow these imports to come in, because the local market was aversely effected by these imports. They couldn’t compete.

      While I am on the topic of clothes, by the way, if you ever get a picture sent to you by your child and they are wearing something like a curse word on their shirt or a playboy bunny on their shirt, don’t think much of it. They have noooo idea what that represents. I know how you feel. I felt that way many times in the project as I see some dear teenage girl walking around with a playboy emblem on their shirt, but she nor probably the staff of that project has any idea what it even represent. And for that matter, who knows what some of the things on our shirts really mean!

  3. Lindy
    Feb 17, 2011
    at 5:30 am

    Wow! What a powerful photo essay!!!

  4. Feb 17, 2011
    at 5:50 am

    Such an important reminder, so powerfully shared. THANK YOU!!!

  5. Zoe
    Feb 17, 2011
    at 8:12 am

    Kess, the author of ‘Amazing Grace’ was the captain of a slave ship. Following his conversion he became a minister, preaching to William Wilberforce (who was foremost in the abolitionist movement in the UK) and meeting John Wesley, founder of Methodism. He was a fully dedicated minister when he wrote ‘Amazing Grace’.
    As for the photos, they are beautiful. It would never occur to me that a happy face meant the absence of poverty.

  6. Jen
    Feb 17, 2011
    at 8:47 am

    our lives on earth may be temporal, but God has given us wealth to use it responsibly and for His glory. essentially, our souls are the most precious things… and by helping these kids through compassion, you will help them learn about Jesus and give them a better quality of life! and God loves a cheerful giver!!! :)

    thanks for such a powerful blog.

  7. Feb 17, 2011
    at 12:16 pm

    I think this is a good quote and it’s certainly helped humble me:

    Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. -Herman Melville

  8. Feb 17, 2011
    at 6:22 pm

    Great reminder to look beyond what we first see to the reality of life for others.

    Next time your in a shopping centre, take a moment to look at the people around you for you may see signs of spiritual, emotional or economic poverty there too, if only you stop and look.

  9. Feb 17, 2011
    at 8:00 pm

    Beautiful pictures. The last one is haunting.

  10. [...] a blog post I was reading by Chris Giovagnon I fell in love with this quote "The presence of dignity doesn’t equal the absence of [...]

  11. rhea davis
    Nov 29, 2011
    at 3:29 pm

    THIS KILLS ME! WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN RIGHT HERE IN THE UNITED STATES WHO IS IN NEED OF SPONSORSHIP. BORN INTO POVERTY AND LIVING IN AIDS INFECTED AREAS. WHAT ABOUT OUR CHILDREN THAT DOESN’T GET CHRISTMAS GIFTS AND IS HUNGRY EVERYDAY….WHERE IS THE HELP FOR OUR FAMILIES…MY THREE BABIES ARE LIVING THIS EVERYDAY RIGHT HERE IN THE STATES….THEY WON’T HAVE CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR…..THEY GO WITHOUT EVERYDAY BECAUSE WE ARE OVERLOOKED….

    • Jacquie Parella
      Nov 29, 2011
      at 9:17 pm

      Rhea, you are absolutely right. Poverty is everywhere and children all over the world suffer because of it – even in the U.S. What I love about our country is that we have organizations who work to help those in need. Have you looked into some programs in your area to make sure your family is cared for this Christmas? The Salvation Army has an Angel Tree program that is wonderful. (http://www.salvationarmyusa.org)

      Here in Colorado Springs we have all sorts of things available for families that many don’t even know about. Do you have a 411 service in your community? If so, they should be able to point you to what help is available in your town. You may have tried these things already but wanted to tell you about them just in case.

      And Rhea, I just prayed for you and your children. — for provision and for protection. And, that God will bring victory and abundance in all areas of your life.

      He loves your family so much. When you are in the middle of wondering where your child’s next meal comes from it doesn’t necessarily feel like it but He does.

      Thanks for posting. If you think of it, please let me know how you are doing.

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