Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Absolute and Relative Poverty

It's pretty much impossible to be an unnoticed observer as a white person in Zambia. Our team stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb, so despite our intentions to the contrary, we always felt like we were drawing unwanted attention.

On a visit to a rural village, I met with the head man of the local area who proceeded to list all of the needs in his region that he hoped I might be able to fix with my implied financial largesse. This was particularly embarrassing because, despite my inner protestation, I knew at some level that he was right to do so. Though I'm not a high wage earner by Australian standards, I'm incredibly wealthy by comparison to the average Zambian.

There's a sense of discomfort that comes with this realisation that I am reticent to discard immediately (though I doubt I could even if I tried). A major reason for the trip was to help us come to terms with the realities of global inequity. It's a salient reminder for us all.

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