What Does it Mean to be Poor?

Linda W Living as Anabaptists

Our church is taking the lead in co-sponsoring a Congolese refugee family. Volunteers of various backgrounds, united by a spirit of service, are helping the family settle into a new life. Their circumstances often require more and different help than we know how to give. We are learning by leaps and bounds, we meet and resolve newly arising issues, and we are blessed by the experience.

But many, refugees and domestic working and non-working poor, have no such help. And even with support, this may be what the father of “our” family is feeling currently.

I am so ashamed and worried. I don’t know what to do. I feel stuck. There are nice people here, trying to help. But I just feel overwhelmed and alone.

I tried twice to find a better job. Each time I followed advice; I thought I had it and showed up for work but was refused. Twice I lost my old job and now I’m out of work. I’ve been told I did wrong, I was stupid, and I blame myself. I can’t even pay the rent.

My wife is sick in hospital. The people helping us, say she isn’t being treated right by the doctors. We still don’t know what is wrong with her.

Also, my wife really wants to work but how can she do that with a new baby?

The kids of friends are always at our apartment. With 6 of our own the place is a zoo and food runs low but our friends are worse off than we, and they feel better with us. How can I deny them?!

I’m blessed with good, smart kids. But I hear that the youngest two are so far behind that they can’t understand anything the teachers tell them. They won’t pass their grade. Our volunteer friends will help but they say the kids have to study at home. How can I make that happen when I’m not there and I don’t understand their homework?

Our landlord is going to spray the whole building against cockroaches. We are told that now we have to keep our place clean. We sweep and mop and wipe a lot. But we have no place to keep food other than the fridge. We have no closets so our stuff stays in boxes and bags on the ground. It’s difficult and expensive to get laundry done so we do the least necessary. I don’t like it either but …

I should be glad that many people are helping us. But I just feel that I am no good.