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what it's really like...

Dan

I always thought that I "understood" what it was like to face poverty - that was, until today. I participated, along with about 30 or so others, in a poverty simulation put together by the United Way and United Ministries in Greenville to give us a better understanding of what the world of poverty is really like.

This was my scenario: I was a 13 year old girl named Opal. I had a twin sister and a 3 year old brother. I also had a 21 year old brother who was our primary caretaker because our daddy was in jail and couldn't post bail and our momma hadn't been around in over two years. We owed around $250 in utilities, we had to get our baby brother to childcare every day (which was thankfully paid up), we had to get food stamps (which meant going through the DSS process), we had to complete certain tasks like going to school, going to the bank, etc. all while using only a certain amount of money and transportation passes. My older brother who was supposed to take care of us was also at junior college and so on top of taking care of us all - he went to school, or was supposed to. Needless to say, it was a pretty desperate situation. Oh - I failed to mention that our rent was thankfully already paid for the month - so we really only had to eat, pay our bills, and go to school. (ha!)  We role-played for 15 minute increments (which symbolized a week at a time).  During our four "weeks" - we successfully lost our home, forgot to eat, spent two of those weeks at the "DSS" line, left our baby brother at the childcare facility (oopsss....another reason Dan & I dont' have our own kids yet....), got jipped out of an extra $100 from the landlord, had our utilities cut off, and eventually had to go to the homeless shelter, which by then was full - it was bad!  Really BAD! 

Yet - as bad as it was for me, it lasted only an hour... and it was fake. Right now, I'm sitting at my kitchen table, sippin' nice cold lemonade and eating an orange, typing on my computer with wonderful wifi, enjoying the nice breeze blowing in from this beautiful spring day. Sadly, that's not the case for many in Spartanburg. In fact - I can guarantee that a young girl today in Spartanburg went to school worried about her dad in jail, missed her mom and wondered where she was, fought with her sister over who would help take care of their little brother, and worried that their older brother wouldn't be able to take care of them much longer.

Opal is a real face of poverty - she's not just pretend...

Poverty is real, and it's hard, and today my eyes were opened just a little bit wider to see what it's really like...