Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Social Injustice

Social Injustice

Home visits this week. Occasionally when doing this we run across caregivers abusing the Compassion children by taking the mattress or other items we have given the children and using it themselves or by treating the children poorly because they aren’t their children. These Compassion kids live with an uncle or maybe not even a blood relative so the child gets treated like a 2nd class citizen or worse. Recently we went out to do home visits and we ran across a blatant case of social injustice on another scale. One of our Compassion kid’s mother was living in a small room behind a school. Her home, which was built by her late husband, was being rented to the brand new school and being used as a girls dormitory. There were approximately 50 girls living in the home, sleeping in bunk beds. The school just happened to have been started on almost the same grounds that the home was on, so the home was basically part of the school. The money that was being paid to the woman by the school for the use of the house was around $12.50 a month, meaning that each boarder was paying $0.25 a month to live there. If this woman were to rent this house out herself to each student, collecting their monthly rent, she could charge them each upwards of $4 a month or collectively $200 a month. The school was paying her $12.50 a month and essentially keeping the rest. Blatant social injustice. This woman, as a peasant farmer, just didn’t have the clout or the leverage (or so she thought) to combat this so she just accepted what the school offered and made due. Meanwhile, as you could imagine, the girls living in the house are treating the house like any group of teenagers who are renting a place would treat it. They’re destroying it. Not blatantly, but by living in it and not treating it with the same care and respect that an owner would. So Compassion is intervening on her behalf and dealing with the school to either increase what they are paying her per month, buy it completely or she will rent the place out herself to the students which is my recommendation thus creating a sustainable and fairly substantial income for herself for years to come.

Random Factoid

Speaking of incomes, I read in the local paper that Ugandans monthly who earn 400,000 Ugandan Shillings (Ush) or $250 US dollars are subject to 30% taxation. That’s about how much I make as a PCV and it’s a very modest salary, but for a Ugandan it’s fairly substantial. When you take into consideration how few people make that sum of money it clearly represents the upper tax bracket in this country. In learning more about taxes, the people who line the streets to sell bananas, meat on a stick, and bottled water to buses when they stop all wear the same color jacket (more like a lab coat). They wear them to show that they have paid taxes for their earnings.

Birthday Wishes to Ella!!!

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