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Immigrant

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As an immigrant from South Africa, I have lived in two different cultures. The effects of poverty in South Africa are widespread and affect every aspect of the society. Witnessing the wealth in the United States and the immense poverty in South Africa, I find it hard to believe that this is the same planet and that people are not aware of or allow others to live in such poor conditions. After recently returning from a visit to an AIDS orphanage and the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in South Africa, I have observed families devastated by poverty and the AIDS crisis. After visiting one of the burn units, I saw the face of poverty. Simply to stay warm, families light fires in empty drums. These are frequently knocked over by children who, as a result, get burned. This tragedy exposes another dire issue, the poor quality of the health care system.
This system is in shambles. People have to wait for hours, if not days, to get care in government hospitals. In addition, after being released from hospitals, children are placed in crime ridden and unsanitary shack townships where there is no accessibility to proper medication and treatment. These conditions leave the children vulnerable to infection and other complications.

Growing up in South Africa has made me aware of the effects poverty, which include high unemployment, rampant crime, the lack of a quality education, illiteracy, and a severe health crisis exacerbated by the AIDS epidemic. All of these problems have left a void in society where children are growing up without parents, who have died of AIDS, as well as the added hardship of having to live with the stigma of AIDS. This is all the result of poverty. It is a vicious cycle. Poverty leads to a population less educated because they cannot afford schooling. Without quality schooling it is difficult to earn a livable wage. The AIDS epidemic is directly linked to this issue because a large portion of the population has not been adequately taught how to deal with and prevent AIDS. This problem, if not controlled, could easily bring the country into further turmoil.
I believe that it is the responsibility and the role of the global community to help quell the problems in South Africa and Africa as a whole. Most of the problems in the country are rooted in poverty. It is a complex situation to solve, but one that truly needs our attention. Through my involvement with Model United Nations I have seen that with true international cooperation major issues can be solved; however, the initiative needs to be taken. By providing housing and jobs, and not simply giving handouts to the underprivileged, people gain the hope and means to support their families and, in turn, contribute to the wellbeing of their nation. In the 21st century it is simply unforgivable that we ignore the cries from a child in impoverished countries like South Africa.





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