At the turn of the century the World Bank put together an initiative called Voices of the Poor. This collection gathers quotes from the poor on their views on what poverty means to them. They address issues from gender equality to evaluations of NGOs. So far I've only read the excerpts available on the website, but I am looking forward to making these books a part of my collection. Here is a taste of what is there:
- "For a poor person everything is terrible - illness, humiliation, shame. We are cripples; we are afraid of everything; we depend on everyone. No one needs us. We are like garbage that everyone wants to get rid of." — a blind woman from Tiraspol, Moldova
- "Everyday I am afraid of the next" — Russia
- "Nobody is able to communicate our problems. Who represents us? Nobody." — discussion group in Foua, Egypt
- "We keep hearing about monies that the government allocates for projects, and nothing happens on the ground." — South Africa
- "No one helps, not anyone. I would gladly help someone, but how when I am in need of help myself. This is misery (jad). Our souls, our psyches are dead." — Vares, Bosnia and Herzegovina (source)
By seeing things from their eyes we treating the poor with dignity. We can understand where they are coming from. By taking the time to know those who we are trying to help and to know their needs and specific situations there is a greater chance we can help, rather than simply waste time and resources.