Yesterday, I attended a poverty simulation at ASUMH. It was an exercise to show how difficult it is for people living in poverty to manage each month. Participants were given $200, a transportation card, a social security card, and a few other personal items. There was a homeless shelter, a school, a pawn shop, social services, bank, and other providers to make the exercise seem as realistic as possible. Baby dolls were given to “families” to represent children and in some instances, the Department of Human Services had to take the children into custody.
I’ve been through a similar training that was put together by Junior Auxiliary (JA) from Ruby Payne’s book A Framework for Understanding Poverty. The experience reinforced for me the impact that the 14,000 women of Junior Auxiliary make in their local communities each year for children and families in need. There is a poem that has circulated through JA circles for years that came to mind called Prayer for the Children. It breaks my heart when I read it, but I am thankful that there is hope for children who live in poverty through organizations like Junior Auxiliary.
Prayer for the Children
We pray for the children who sneak popsicles before supper, who erase holes in math workbooks, who can never find their shoes.
And, we pray for those who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire, who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers, who never “counted potatoes,” who never go to the circus, who live in an X-rated world.
We pray for children who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions, who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.
And, we pray for those who never get dessert, who have no safe blanket to drag behind them, who watch their parents watch them die, who can’t find any bread to steal, who don’t have any rooms to clean up, whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser, whose monsters are real.
We pray for children who spend all their allowance before Tuesday, who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food, who like ghost stories, who shove dirty clothes under the bed, who never rinse out the tub, who get visits from the tooth fairy, who don’t like to get kissed in front of the carpool, who squirm in church and scream in the phone, whose fears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.
And, we pray for those whose nightmares come in the daytime, who will eat anything, who have never seen a dentist, who aren’t spoiled by anybody, who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep, who live and move, but have no being.
We pray for children who want to be carried and for those who must, who we never give up on and for those who don’t get a second chance. For those we smother and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.
by Ina Hughes, Newspaper Reporter for Knoxville News