Health and Poverty - A Reason to Stand in the Gap
As part of our theme for 2018, #StandInTheGap, once a month our blog will feature guest commentary from a member of the board of directors of The One Less Foundation, highlighting an aspect of poverty, and why they are choosing to be an active participant in the work to end poverty and the importance for them to stand in the gap for those in underserved communities. This month's commentary is from Director, Tosha Washington.
I chose to highlight the effects of poverty on people’s health because when we don’t have healthy bodies and healthy minds, it is so difficult to get ahead and prosper in life. Good health is a cornerstone of human life, without it families and communities fall apart. I think we see this every day when we look at the cycle of poverty and wonder why it is not more easily broken—try learning a new way to think and be when you are chronically stressed and sick or malnourished. How hard is that decision to buy necessary medication or buy food for the family? Can you concentrate on your work when you haven’t eaten a real meal in a few days? What if you had to decide between a 3-hour bus ride to get to the doctor and then a 2-hour wait to be seen or just go to work another day sick? There are so many either/or decisions that have to be made when you are poor, and any decision can put you in a worse position. Poverty breeds disease- from malnutrition to inadequate healthcare, being poor makes it hard to be healthy. At every point in a poor person’s life, lack of money can affect how healthy they can be. I imagine how this must be when you are born into poverty—how this actually shapes your brain and how you think and see the world. When I imagine this, it is not hard to see why the cycle of poverty can be so hard to break. But with those that have means and have the minds, the cycle can be broken. If we are all willing to #StandInTheGap and do our part, we can help those that are vulnerable find a way out. Standing in the gap does not have to be donating all of your money to charity-- although donating to nonprofits like TOLF makes a real difference in real people’s lives—you can educate yourself on the ways in which our laws and policies actually work against the poor and help keep them poor. You can volunteer your time and talents at organizations that work directly with underserved communities. Go to your local elementary school and pay off lunch debts. There is something each and every one of us can do to #StandInTheGap, and we can do these things on a regular basis. It really is up to us as individuals how we want to live our lives and how we want to contribute to those around us having the best lives they can have. We all need to be healthy to thrive!!
Member, Board of Directors
THE ONE LESS FOUNDATION
(Added note: for more information on the effects of poverty on mental health, check out our blog post from Broke and Broken - The Psychological Effects of Poverty