How Poverty Separates Parents and Children

poverty separates parents and childrenThis is a study documenting the heart-breaking choices faced by disadvantaged families in raising their children in poverty.

This document is a journey.

A journey to six countries around the world: Guatemala, Haiti, Burkina Faso, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

A journey into lives of some of the very poorest families in these countries.

A journey that, despite the diversity among these countries, brings us back each time to the same hope of very poor parents and children to be able to live together, despite all forces that combine to separate them.

A journey that brings us back each time to the strength and protection family members of many can offer one another in the face if destitution.

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Many things can be learned from this document, but foremost among them is perhaps the realization of how many hidden efforts parents and children in extreme poverty make in order to stay together.

In efforts to protect their children, very poor parents continually find themselves faced with unfair and inhuman choices in their daily life. These same choices can be so misunderstood that they lead society to condemn the parents. In one country, for example, a mother must leave her children alone unsupervised while she works very long days to ensure that the family will not go hungry. And yet, she knows the dangers her children face because two of her children have already been killed in violent incidents in the street.

What do human rights mean when very poor parents around the world face similar choices between things that are not optional but their children’s well-being?

This journey to different parts of the world and to the misery people face leads us to a question. If this determination of parents and children in extreme poverty to live together is so strong, what would happen if we dared put this aspiration at the heart of our antipoverty policies?

What if this aspiration enabled us to create links among the many policies that can be so hard to harmonize at international, local and national levels? What if this aspiration brought together economic policies and human rights policies, employment policies and access to culture?

What if building on the aspiration of parents to live together enabled us once and for all to put an end to extreme poverty?