Poverty Simulation by Rachel Yalley
According to the Census Bureau, more than 45 million (14.5%) of Americans live below the poverty line in 2017. Delaware County has the highest percentage of children living in poverty with Muncie’s poverty rate at 32.2%.
Most often when statistics are used to explain issues like poverty and its effects, it is not much appreciated because they seem abstract until one experiences it. The Poverty Simulation demonstrated to its participants the reality of being poor.
For instance, I was an unemployed husband and father of 3 children, including a 16-year-old pregnant daughter. It was such a stressful situation that my wife (Doug Amman) and I found ourselves forgetting it was just an act. Every issue confronting us was equally important. Trying to prioritize which issue to tackle first led to chaos, confusion, and above all stress, which characterized the feeling of participants during the entire exercise.
Before the end of the simulation, our electricity had been disconnected, we were evicted from our house, and one of my kids was involved in drugs. Even with one parent earning income, it wasn’t enough to provide everything needed for the family. This felt very real because we were trying to work things out. In the process of doing that, we unintentionally neglected the most important people in our lives – our family. Also, when my 8-year-old son was arrested for stealing, I came to understand why some steal: not because they want to, but because they need certain things that a poor family cannot afford to give.
These situations are happening to the poor living in Muncie. Despite federal aid, the Center Township Trustee, and community agencies, people are still struggling in so many ways for basic needs.
Afterwards, some participants shared what they had learnt throughout the exercise. Some didn’t realize how extremely difficult it would be, while others claimed that it was similar to their everyday life. One participant, Melody who is a working, single mom of three, stated it’s a clear picture of her life. “I find myself running around every day like everyone was during the exercise. It leaves me emotionally stressed and physically drain.”
Betsy also had a similar experience. ‘’I have lived like this some time back. I went through an emotional breakdown and it’s the worst for anyone to go through.”
Cecilia, a freshman at Ball State, “I don’t know how my family could have survived if not for my grandmother who was always there to support us. I can’t imagine how we could have endured this kind of life, day in and day out. Now I really appreciate what people go through.”
One participant ended the session by reminding us what we all failed to do: to pray. “As we go through all of life’s issues, let’s make time to pray and commit everything into the hands of God.”