If you're poor, if you can hardly support yourself, then it is only logic the last thing you'd want to do is to have more kids, right? This may be logical but clearly it is not what is happening in the world. The population is growing fast. However, the number of the poor is growing even faster because more and more children are born into poor families. But... Surely this defies the logic, doesn't it? What's happening here?!
Quite a while ago, I was having a conversation with Walter, a middle-aged Indian gentleman. The question had been bugging me for a while that why would you have kids, and not even only one or two, but five or six, if you yourself go to bed hungry at night? Surely the poor can see the dire situation they themselves and their families live in, can't they? I asked Walter this, given he was Indian and brought up in a country plagued by poverty. Walter is an immigrant thought, having lived in the West for the past two decades. So he had seen the story from both sides. I'll never forget that conversation as it was very enlightening for me. Walter agreed that it, of course, makes sense that if you can barely make it yourself, you shouldn't bring someone else, whom you cannot support, into life. That is a purely and simply sentencing them to a life of hardship from the very beginning, without any fault of their own. But this is the way we
see it. Chances are, if you use the Internet and are reading this article, you do have a decent level of education and know the world outside your village or town, wherever you're from. But many don't. Many people living in poverty do not get any
education whatsoever. Many are not even literate, let alone getting educated about protective measures to prevent pregnancy.
Basically, as Walter explained it to me, the root of the problem comes down to two things:
- The very poor do not get a proper education or learn life skills (including preventive measures) outside their small and typically closed communities - so basically they don't know any better
- Some also still have the very old school mentality that more children could help them with the chores and farming and hope that their kids will grow up and improve the whole family's situation
The problem though gets worse - what these people fail to understand (because they haven't been educated so they don't know any better) is that the kids born into poverty, without access to proper education and learning proper life skills, grow up (that is, IF they survive) to form yet another family with even more children living in poverty, not being able to provide a better situation for them and hence the cycle continues.
Break the cycle?
How, then, can the cycle be broken? The answer is proper education and cultural improvements. Education is not only
about getting a University degree. It doesn't even have to be formal, in many cases. It is about learning the way of the world, learning about how the others live and learning skills out of the community one is born into. If the poor had smaller families, they could support themselves better. They would then provide more opportunities for their children to progress and at least be able to provide a chance
to break the poverty cycle for their families. But this could only come about with planning and providing education in affected areas - this can
be done and it is a must!
And, it is our job to do it.