What Is Poverty

The essay “What Is Poverty” by Jo Goodwin Parker, clearly describes what poverty and how poor feel and suffer due to poverty.

These describe the surrounding and the routine of the poor as they awake in the morning and go to bed in the night, with the same never cleaned, dirty and untidy place of residence, and the never leaving bad smell.  Poverty is working laboriously and being a chronic patient of several severe diseases like anemia.  Poverty is being hungry for several months. Still, feeding the children if you get something to make your tongue wet.  Poverty leads the poor children to skip schooling and compel to plan them to do any occupation that make you earn some money to fulfill your thirst and hunger.  Poverty separates the poor children from the wealthy ones in all aspects of life.  Poverty does not at least let you take the benefit of any public property: health clinics or government schools.  In short, poverty does not let the poor to do anything to proceed in life; rather simply compelling them to be silent and patient.

The elaborated essay of the above summery is from the perspective of first person which directly addresses the second person as the reader or the listener.  So when reading that particular essay, it sounds like the poor directly talking to the reader: complaining about the hopeless future waiting for him or her and their children and how they have suffered in the past.  The poor ask to look at them with an angry heart that will help the wealthy help to poor.

On the other hand, the wealthy people never turn their eyes or care about the poor in usual situations, perhaps, other than they get inspirations from these kinds of articles.  The wealthy people don’t even mind to feed the poor with a single parcel of food: instead they completely ignore the poor whenever they see the poor begging in a polite manner.

We all are supposed to take this seriously and find a solution to the poor who are also human beings like us and suffering without doing and evil act. This essay should call all of us for an action; to somehow lessen the bad situation that exist among poor, so that all of us can live in peace and harmony.  Hope everyone will think about this and take this to an action…

When going through the essay “What is Poverty”, various horrible scenes of poverty came into my mind. The essay sketched in my mind the figures of little, dirty and naked children scavenging for food among the piles of rubbish. It portrayed in my mind lame and hungry people begging for food.  I must add here that we go out of university nearly daily and travel around by rickshaw. My heart feels sorry for the impoverished and the vulnerable rickshaw pullers who drive us a far distance only for 15 or 20taka. I had been thinking the rickshaws belong to them, but it was appalling for me to know they are not owned by the rickshaw pullers mostly. The money they earn is divided between the rickshaw owner and the rickshaw puller. What can they make out of such a little amount? Moreover, I particularly reminisced about the underprivileged people I found at the train station in Dhaka on our first arrival from our homeland country. The affluent people there were arrogantly stepping ahead towards their destination but what about the poor? No any destination, no any aim. How can they imagine of a destination when they don’t even have the starting point – food, shelter and clothing. They stay up under the open sky wavering with cold while the rest of the world sleeps on velvety cushions. They remain hungry over nights while the wealthy people in their milieu enjoy parties. The prosperous people sleep peacefully on the soft beds while the poor stay up the whole night fearing the next day, fearing life. So many things to be worried about, so many things that strangle the sleep of the destitute, so many things that pull down their love for life but alas! No to one is there to understand their pains. Frazzled poor hardly find any source of income, hence their children remain illiterate. This illiteracy appears as the inheritance of the upcoming generation and continues as a legacy. Thinking of all these bitter facts I often ask myself if only the deprived are responsible for their awful condition. I think, some responsibility lies on our shoulders as well. No doubt, our respect and support for the indigent group of the society and care for their emotions can boost them not to mourn upon the situation they are living in, rather to strive to improve the condition. Can’t the poor be brought out of the paucity of life facilities if every well-off member of our society contributes towards the betterment of poor? Please think over this issue. A heartfelt realization of the case may pave a way towards a social reform in favor of the depressed group of our society



On 31st Janurary 2011, I  was invited to a conference held by Chittagong Grammar School (CGS). The conference for the day was based on social inequality, economic inequality and political inequality. One Canadian speaker talked about poverty, and she stated that 60% of the world’s population is covered by the darkness of poverty. Indeed, her speech with the photographs of poor people reminded me of the essay ‘Poverty’ that I had studied in my class.

Whenever I see indigent people in the street begging for money, some questions always come to my mind. Why don’t they do some work? Or why don’t they ask for a loan and start a small business to sustain their living? In fact, each and every micro-detail mentioned in the essay has changed my mind towards the poor. Now, I know all of these questions are fictitious and why the people are actually poor. What I have learned from the essay is that they do not have any choice; yes, not even a single choice which can uplift their lives.

In the conference, an activity organized by the CGS was amazing which reflected the actual life of the poor people. ‘A Hunger Banquet’ was the activity where all the delegates of the conference were divided into groups; that is, 60% of them were poor class people, and the rest were middle-class and high-class people. I was in the poor-class. We had to eat the food which poor people eat every day. It was rice with tasteless curry; whereas, the rich were given many kinds of delicious food. At that time, I had to eat the given food to kill my hunger because I had no other choices. That was a moment for the first time in my life I encountered what poverty is like. I concede that the given food wasn’t that bad when compared to the actual food that poor people eat, but for me it was like hell. My feeling was exact to the feeling and emotions that the narrator of  “Poverty”  had expressed.

Today, I consider Parker’s essay as a masterpiece. I must say Parker has defined poverty in an actual existing way. Moreover, when I pretended to be poor,  a deep sorrow filled my heart. With the inspiring speech and knowledge from Parker’s essay, I want to make a change; I would like to share my gained knowledge and spread health awareness to live a happy and better life.

What Is Poverty?

The essay, “What Is Poverty?” by Jo Goodwin Parker is one of the most touching essays that I have ever read. The narrator’s feelings sound so realistic that they can make anyone understand the meaning of poverty. She talks about the problems she has faced in her life and also about how she has been going through poverty. She defines poverty as sleeping on dirty mattress, eating rotten food, wearing torn clothes, waking up throughout cold nights. Facing poverty is an ordeal that anyone can face in his or her life. One needs to be really strong to suffer and to adjust to a whole life in misery. I am going to talk about the narrator’s view and my own view on poverty.
According to the narrator, poverty makes her think about the dark future. She talks about how society judges her and her children. She refutes people’s saying that they help her. It is because whenever she seeks help, no one gives a damn. She also talks about the consequences of early marriage and unemployment. Due to poverty, her children are suffering from hunger, diseases, infections, and illiteracy, but she can’t help herself. Her job compensates her so little that it is hardly enough to fill the stomach of her children. It’s beyond her expectations to dream about sending her children to school. Therefore, living in poverty without a husband in youth is a pain that she faces every day.
When I read the narrator’s feelings, I reminisced about the hatred I had for beggars. Whenever I saw poor people begging for money, I used to think, “Why don’t they get some work?” I always thought of them as lazy people who want to earn by attracting the attention of pedestrians through their dramatic behavior in the street. In addition, I thought that poor people beget more children to help themselves by turning their children into beggars. After reading the text, I learned that people suffering from poverty beget more children because they don’t have the concept of family planning, or they can’t afford the contraceptive devices. The essay made me feel guilty for the contempt I had been showing to the beggars, who are the victims of poverty. However, it doesn’t include all beggars, but only those who misbehave with the pedestrians when they don’t give them money. It is really difficult to assess whether or not to help them. If it was in the case like the narrator, then surely I would like to help them as much as I can.

Living with Poverty

An essay, “What Is Poverty?” by Jo Goodwin Parker coerced me to reminisce those days in my home country when I along with my four family members had to struggle hard to adjust with the resources we had. I equate the speakers’ condition in one way or other with mine. Although the degree of poverty varies, I had similar experience in the past. No doubt, my parents send me and my two siblings to the best school in the town. Still we encountered economic crisis time and again when the political instability in my country resulted to impair my father’s profession. Since he was the only earning member in my family, the romance between my parents sometimes met the destiny of dissatisfaction and tension.

Although other students in my school had the illusion that I was a daughter of wealthy family, I often went on through hard times giving up my wishes and demands simply because my father’s earning couldn’t support those expenses. Even today it hurts me when I remember the situation in grade 10. I had to retain myself from attending a national level speech competition although I had stood first in regional level competition. They couldn’t afford to send me out of my home town because it was the worst year for us in terms of income. I can somehow relate the speaker of the essay with my mother who too has numerous health problems. Unlike speaker’s husband, my father earns well enough that can easily sustain us, but the problem is with my mother’s health. Till date, she has had three major operations claiming high medical expenses inside the country and abroad. I can call this another blow of fate that she will have to suffer one more major operation.

I often wonder why people having enough money hardly encounter problems like the one who is struggling to manage the living has to. However, I don’t feel that bad because where I am today, counts a lot to me. It’s because of poverty that I am a part of AUW. I’m always grateful for my parents who despite their scarcity dared to send me to the best school and best college that made me able to be a student in an international university. My parents have always been my inspiration and role model who always advice me to have patience and accept what time gives, but  never give up the spirit  to move ahead.

My Response to “What is Poverty?”

When I read the essay “What is Poverty?” by Jo Goodwin Parker, I felt it very convincing. It led me to think about those poor people who I encounter in my daily life. One incident that I still reminisce is that when I was passing through the streets in my home country, I saw a group of children who were dressed poorly, barefooted and looked undernourished. They were carrying a big plastic bag and picking out bottles and metal cans from the pool of garbage. At first, I did not know why they were collecting that wastage so passionately. I evasively walked beside and didn’t bother them simply because they looked filthy and ignorant. Later, when I asked my parents about those street children and their activities, they told me that those children collect things to earn their living. They gather plastic and metal wastes, sell it to the recycle companies and get paid for selling those waste items. They have no option then to do such filthy work.

In the essay, the speaker describes how the poor people are and how hard their life is. They have the stigma that they are not accepted to the society because they do not match the society. However, it’s not their fault. The poor are always striving for better health and education opportunities. The problem is that whenever they try to get rid of one problem, they are pushed back by another obstacle and the cycle of poverty continues. Moreover, the speaker discusses the struggle and hard labor that poor people have to do in order to get a one-time meal, which made me think back to those street children who have to coerce themselves in such unpleasant work for their living. Again, these results to some gruesome consequences such as these children will be the victim of drug addiction.  Due to lack of health and education facilities, the mental, physical and social health of these children gets impaired. In most cases, poor people become bound to illegal activities such as theft, robbery and even murder. Eventually, they may become a menace to society.

Therefore, instead of only being indignant about the matter, we should follow Parker’s suggestions to raise our voices on behalf of the poor people and endeavor to solve these problems rationally and practically.

Down and Out

Although I have read a number of writings, the essay “What is Poverty?” written by Jo Goodwin, holds much meaning and an emotional impression in my heart. In this essay, Goodwin talks about different aspects of what poverty is and connects with relevant evidences from her childhood and adulthood. She also gives us a glimpse of what she and her three children undergo on a daily basis because of poverty. Jo says that being poor is a distasteful reality for her family. Because there was no money, her family had to suffer from different kinds of diseases like malnutrition and chronic anemia due to lack of health facilities. She experienced a different life after she got married, but the happiness didn’t last long after her husband left her and provided no support. Through this essay, Jo wanted to convey the message to us that the poor are in need of desperate help.

            Poverty is a way of life that a person can’t easily escape out of it without strong support from someone or the government. Poverty can be seen everywhere in this universe. It exists even in my homeland. Bhutan is a small country located in the eastern Himalayas between China to the north and India to the west. The majority of Bhutanese people depends and derives their livelihood from agriculture. The distribution of land and assets are relatively equal, yet most sectors of the population are very rich or very poor.

            The majority of the people in Bhutan live in the rural areas, and most of the poverty stricken people are found in those isolated areas where they don’t get good access to facilities like health, education, electricity, etc. The children in this community have to walk a great distance to attend school; therefore, most of the parents don’t send their children to school, resulting into the increase of uneducated population. Furthermore, the rural people don’t know productive skills on how to improve their living standards. Since there are no industries and factories in those regions, they don’t have the opportunity to work, so gradually this factor can lead to poverty.

            When I came to Bangladesh for my studies, I was so much amazed to see hundreds of beggars in such a small street of Chittagong. Because of not having proper housing, they have to sleep in the pathways, deserted home, and public streets. They have to stay hungry and thirsty. After encountering those people, I was deeply touched and came to realize how lucky I am of having a roof over my head and having food to eat. Therefore, we must keep in mind that poverty is not a choice, but it’s a lifestyle a person faces due to many circumstances. We must never look down upon the poor people; they are also human beings just like us. Instead, we as a whole must try our best to contribute every little support that we can in every small ways.

Juast Imagine It Was You (What Is Poverty)

As I read “What is Poverty?” by Jo Goodwin Parker, I could exactly imagine the dirty room with lots of mosquitoes flying around and strong smell of urine on the ground. I am not from a rich family, but I have never been that much poor too. When I read the essay, I imagined myself in that condition, when most of the time you have no food to eat, you have to wear dirty, torn clothes, thinking about the dark future of your three children tortures you like a nightmare that never leaves, and worse than that, you have to step over your pride and ask for help from all those people who do not care whether you are a human like them or not. At the conference I attended few days ago about inequality in the world and how to fill the gap, guests were divided into three different classes: rich, middle class, and poor. I was selected as a member of the poor class. It was a symbolic practice of inequality. We were supposed to sit on the ground and have rice and Dall for lunch. The moment I found I was placed in the poor category, I felt ashamed. I came with ironed clothes and high hill shoes, with make up on my face and pride in my heart, but I had to sit down on the ground and eat the worst food served in the hall. In spite the fact that the lunch turned out to be the funniest part of the program and the Dall tasted good, I was reminded of something important; poor people are also human beings who like their honor and pride, the fact which is forgotten most of the time. To remove poverty, I don’t believe in communist practice of forced sharing. Human beings should be free to choose if they want to share something with others or not, or if they want to help those who need help or not. They just need to consider themselves in the place of needy people and ask themselves what they would expect from others to do, to glance indifferently, to look with sympathy, or to give a hand for help?

About Poverty


“You ask me what is poverty? Listen to me. Here I am, dirty, smelly, and with no ‘proper’ underwear on and with the stench of my rotting teeth near you. I will tell you. Listen to me. Listen without pity. I cannot use your pity. Listen with understanding. Put yourself in my dirty, worn out, ill-fitting shoes, and hear me.”

That is the first paragraph of the essay “What is Poverty” written by Jo Goodwin Parker. Do you remember the moment when you read it?  Was there something hurts your heart? Last time when I wanted to share my feelings in our class, I failed. Friends, please forgive me. I didn’t mean to make you sad, yet this essay is really moving. I thought the author must write it with her soul, as I was touched by every sentence and even every single word.

Although people often say that everyone is equal when he or she comes to the earth, there are few people have experienced the equal time. The poor are the poor, and the rich are the rich. Even though the poor are as smart as the rich, as intelligent as the rich, and as kind as the rich, they are poor. They have to face series problems which may determine the time that they live on the earth. They have to learn to share things; younger sisters have to wear the clothes that their elder sisters used to wear, and elder sisters have to give up the opportunities to go to school for their younger sisters’ studies. They sell their blood. They sell everything they can sell. In these kinds of conditions, no one can complain. Since they are poor, they have already lost the rights to complain anything. As long as they have food to eat, have clothes to wear, it’s enough. That’s why the poor are very easy to be satisfied.

However, being satisfied doesn’t mean that they don’t want to improve their poor conditions. Indeed, they want. They also want to have a good living and change their lives so that their next generation can get rid of this terrible situation. In order to achieve their dreams, they ask for help, but they are so weak that they can’t walk through the system that people created. They really don’t want to tell others how poor they are, as they cannot use people’s pity. There is common belief among the poor: no matter how poor they are, they need others’ respect. When they tell their stories to others, what they want just understanding. If someone is kind enough that he or she wants to help them, please help them without pity, instead, with his or her sincere, which means a lot to them.

Indeed, poverty is not a permanent thing for a person. If there is any possibility to place the poor into a situation where they can really have the opportunities to create what they want, those people are not poor any longer. Whereas, who can be the force which can do the transition? You may know the answer.