Every Summer I visit my country of origin, Peru. I always have a wonderful time hanging out with my family and friends, tasting one of the most wonderful cuisines in the world, and seeing breathtaking landscapes all around the country. Despite of all its richness, I can’t help to ponder on its extreme poverty and this visit is not the exception.
It is Sunday night and I can’t erase from my mind heart breaking instances that I witnessed throughout the weekend. In just three days, I saw a four year old asking for 10 cents to buy a piece of bread at three in the morning, a father having dinner while standing because he didn’t want to miss his payment of a Sol (Peruvian currency, almost ⅓ of a dollar) for watching someone’s car for several hours, and a mother cleaning an entire apartment for six hours on a Sunday morning for about 13 dollars. While this kind of poverty is not new to my eyes, it never ceases to break my heart.
It is painful to watch so much poverty while others have so much and sometimes take it for granted. It creates within me awareness on how fortunate I am to live in America, a first world country with plenty of opportunities and resources. I know that being American I can get a check for unemployment under certain circumstances, I know that if I don’t have money for school, I can get loans or apply for scholarships, grants, or assistantships. Additionally, I am protected by law on the minimum wage I earn at any job and I am surrounded of helping organizations such as nonprofits that provide free resources to individuals in need. All things and more that third world countries don’t count on.
As one of ACA’s main goals this year is to globalize counseling, I ask you to think about how our profession can reach out to others overseas, especially those from extreme low SES who don’t have access to the resources that we, as Americans, do. It’s not easy to believe in yourself when you grow up in this kind of poverty. Therefore, it is important to be familiar with these environments and empower these individuals so that they can overcome their circumstances and give back to others.