Tag Archives: poverty

The Pamela Positive: “If You Can’t Feed a Hundred People…” – Mother Teresa

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.” – Mother Teresa

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), best known as Mother Teresa, was a Catholic nun known for her work caring for the poorest of the poor in the slums of India.  She was born in Albania, and joined the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary at the age of 18.  She became a nun in 1937, while teaching at a religious school in Calcutta.  She began her work with the poor in Calcutta in 1948.  In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, which presently has 4,500 sisters and is active in more than 100 countries.  Mother Teresa came to international attention with the 1969 documentary, Something Beautiful for God.  In 1979, she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her inspiring work with the poor.

The Classic Pamela Positive: Celebrate True Wealth

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Wealth is a state of mind and life. We tend to associate poverty with money. But poverty can be mental, emotional or spiritual poverty. I am often struck by this in my travel and volunteering in developing nations. Often, the divorce rates are low. Families not only stay together, but also spend time together. They gather food from the fields together, cook together and share meals together.

Contrast us: 15 minute family dinners if we are lucky. Fast-food and food distanced from its natural base. We eat alone; we eat in our cars. Divorces are easier to get, and in our mind it can be easier to allow those thoughts in as a possibility, rather than work through critical issues. So we lose the connection to family. We lose the connection to the local farm. We can lose the connection to long-term commitment.

We lose our greatest asset in natural wealth: relationships. Relationships with ourselves, our families, the earth. This wealth creates happy, balanced, productive, lower stress lifestyles, because we are connected in the way we are meant to be.

Further, we often pass by our heritage and where we come from. In many emerging nations, and especially in the continent of Africa, we see tribes value their connection to their heritage as primary importance even above their nationality. There is a deep-rooted connection to rituals and history which keeps people grounded in who they are, and the deeper, long-term meaning of being a part of a larger community in their lives.

Poverty is about money, at times. It has to be addressed as people should have the opportunity to live productive lives and make choices about what they would like to devote their lives to. Poverty is also about our well-being. Often when we get beyond “money poverty,” we forget “well-being poverty,” and get trapped in a go-go-go consumer culture.

I hope we can celebrate the healthy wealth that is accessible to us all in positive, committed relationships with ourselves, one another, our families, our earth, our communities and our heritage. How wonderful this is available to us all.

Early On In Inner City: Keep on Loving, Keep on Believing

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Very early on in my inner city work, I was a volunteer buddy for a person in the projects.

It was East Palo Alto. My buddy was a 22 year old woman. She had five children from five different men. They lived in a two-bedroom apartment in a complex with wire grates on every window.

At the time I was 16. Fairly nascent in my volunteer work, I was eager to jump in and help. I was still shocked by all the poverty, only 2.1 miles away from my home. The word “UNACCEPTABLE”  was spelled foremost in my mind. It’s what drove me everyday.

 

We would meet to discuss life. To just spend time together. This time, I had made an effort to bring her a casserole that I had made for her family. We had agreed to the time. I figured as a busy mom that she would really appreciate the meal. I was now here and knocking on the door.

 

I knocked.

 

I waited.

 

I knocked again…. again.

The casserole rested warmly in my hands, as I shifted its weight to knock.

 

This time, I knocked a little bit louder. “Gloria”? I asked.

 

I waited a little bit more.

It was 6 p.m., and awfully silent around the projects. There was some blaring music coming from a far-end apartment. Then it would stop, silent…it was a bit eery. I wondered… were people sleeping? Working?

I waited some more.

 

I knocked again and called her name. I waited.

 

I knocked again and said, “Gloria, this is Pamela. I have our dinner… would you be able to open up?”

 

The response was silence. I left the lukewarm casserole on the doorstep, hoping that it would be received and walked away to my car.

I didn’t hear form her.

Every day I tried to call her.

Nothing.

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Weeks later I heard from her. On this phone call, I learned a lot:

“Gloria, how are you? I stopped by for the dinner the other day as we agreed but you weren’t there?”

“No, I was there.”

“You were there?”

“Yes.”

“Gloria, what happened? We decided that I was going to drop off dinner… I was excited to have that there for you.” There was silence.

“I didn’t feel like it,” said Gloria.

“I just didn’t want to open the door.”

************************************************************

Gloria taught me a lot that day.

When you are a volunteer, one of the most important things to do is to not to force a situation.

You are not there to make happen what you think should happen.

You are there to serve.

This is service in an entirely different way. Service does not always mean accomplishment of the task. Some of us Americans are very “doer-oriented.” We want to accomplish. That’s what our founding fathers based our society on: We had to conquer the West. We had to be very resilient and resourceful. In many ways, we still are.

 

With that resourcefulness comes a strong will. That will sometimes prevents us from listening to others or listening to the situation.

As a volunteer, you think, I am supposed to serve the meal. But we don’t know what was going on in Gloria’s mind. She was a mom, twenty years old, with five children. Her jobs went in and out — as did her family.  I can’t imagine how overwhelmed she must have been.

As volunteers we need not to focus “on our side of the story.” “I am doing a good thing. I made all this effort to make a meal. Why wasn’t she there?”

All those thoughts are wrong.

The thought we must have as volunteers everyday is:

“I am here to serve in a way that makes my buddy the most comfortable, with a sense of kindness, listening and love.”  

That does not always mean that you get to complete the delivery of a meal. That does not mean that you get to finish building the house, constructing the well or cleaning up the river.

Sometimes it means being present with someone. Sometimes it means making 6 phone calls before you get in touch with someone. Sometimes it means backing off and giving them space. Sometimes it means showing up on the doorstep with warm casserole, knocking, never hearing a response, and not knowing if they ever ate it. You leave your agenda behind.

To be a volunteer is precious. You listen, you serve, you focus on being present. You love, and don’t judge.

No matter what happens when you serve, you Keep on Loving and you Keep on Believing.

The Power Of Developing Nations

The most impoverished people in the world are allowing our own daily survival.

“Developing countries are home to roughly 80 percent of the world’s population, 98 percent of humanity’s hungry people, and 78 percent of harvested croplands.”  – Brookings Institute

 
 
While 98% of the world’s poor are in developing nations, they are producing nearly 80% of our food.
 
That’s a sobering thought.
 
Shouldn’t we help them more?
 
Support them with greater farming techniques
 
Help coordinate communications among them
 
Share the best practice in each region
 
Send them — not make them buy — the latest agriculture technology
 
And not at all least… genuinely appreciate our own privilege
 
The most impoverished people in the world are allowing our own daily survival. 
 
The most impoverished people in the world are allowing us to eat.

If that’s the case, we should be hopping on an plane with delegates of technology leaders, technology, resources, training programs, support, and much, much gratitude, for they are providing the nourishing meals we have with family each day.

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The Classic Pamela Positive: Celebrate True Wealth

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Wealth is a state of mind, and how we view it with gratitude. Yet we tend to associate wealth with money. But true wealth is in our relationships, the love we have and give, and the joy of each day.  Everyone can be a wealthy person, starting now, this moment.

I am often struck by this positive definition of wealth in my travel and volunteering in developing nations. Families spend time together. They gather food from the fields together, cook together and share meals. It’s all about togetherness. Further, marriages are usually for a lifetime and divorce rates are low.

If we don’t focus on family time, we lose our greatest asset in natural wealth: relationships. Relationships with ourselves, our families, and precious friends who have become like family.

This “living wealth” creates happy, balanced, productive, lower stress lifestyles, because we are connected in the way we are meant to be.

Be Wealthy Today.

With Love, Pamela

In a similar vein, poverty can be mental, emotional or spiritual.

The Classic Pamela Positive: Poverty Be Gone

children-492554_640Poverty be gone. It’s why I get up everyday.  Poverty be gone.  I want my grandchildren to ask me what poverty means.  That’s why we are here.

Please take action today.  Innovative ways to give are right on UniversalGiving, where we vet all our NGOs, with a Quality Model. And remember, 100% goes direct to the NGO. We don’t take a cut. Provide safe stoves to Mayan Women, give food to someone in need, or teach and care for orphaned children in Vietnam.

The Classic Pamela Positive: “If You Can’t Feed a Hundred People…” – Mother Teresa

children-306610_640“If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.” – Mother Teresa Continue reading