Puta and Wayan lean in close to look at the pictures of my family on my laptop. They smile at Brydie and Jem– pale skinned and honey haired. Their own son, Gede, peers over their shoulder. This is family. We get it.
My Indonesian extends to a few phrases vaguely remembered from Year Seven classes – their English is much better. We mime and grin our way through a conversation with all the usual elements – how have our UnitingWorld partners helped them change their lives? What was life like before? You can read their story on the page opposite – it’s inspiring. This is poverty ending, for real people, right now.
And then comes a question I often wonder about, loaded as I am with my iPhone, Mac and expensive camera. Internet is widespread throughout Indonesia, as it is throughout most of the world. Everyone, no matter what their situation these days, is made painfully aware of all they do not have. The people of this community are no exception. I ask Puta and Wayan, with the help of our interpreters, how they deal with this knowledge.
I watch them smile and nod, their eyes meeting mine as they listen to my question translated. They are grateful to be asked.
“It’s hard. It’s so hard.” Wayan tells me. “What we do now, we do for our children. For us, no school, no learning, but for them – we believe they can have something so much better. Better food, better homes.
“We are working hard for them. Everything for them.”
It’s an honest, dignified reply and it stays with me. I think of all that I invest in my family. There is no great gulf between what I can provide for them, what they have or what they long for, the way there is for Puta and Wayan. Internet and globalisation has radically changed the game for people in developing countries.
Since the turn of the century, extreme poverty has more than halved. So have deaths from malaria, maternal deaths and childhood mortality. That’s worth celebrating. And when I imagine what legacy I want to leave, it’s not only about my own children. It’s about contributing to the next generation for whom ending extreme poverty is not just possible – it’s urgent. Never has inequality been more obvious or more painful. Strong, determined, and creative people are more than capable of providing for their children – when we work together to share what we have, that next generation will thrive.
Right now, in recognition of the Uniting Church’s success working with communities overseas through UnitingWorld partners, we have the opportunity to make a big impact by combining your gifts with Australian Aid Funding. We’ve committed to raising $1 for every $5 we’re eligible to receive from grants from the Australian Government to make six times the impact. Please give if you’re able.
Cath Taylor, UnitingWorld.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the family.