Tag Archives: poverty

Gha-na-na What’s My Name: Part Two

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Gha-na-na what's my name?

One of the things that hit me the hardest about being in Ghana was the relaxed attitudes towards education. Within Ghana, education is not compulsory nor is it affordable. Seeing young children who ought to be in school out selling items at the market was a far too common occurrence. For the most part, it was young girls who were out of school.

After a bit of probing, I found out that boy’s education was prioritised, mainly because of the gendered stereotypes that are so entrenched within Ghanaian culture. It is the responsibility of the girls to take care of all of the domestic tasks on behalf of the family so that one day they will make the perfect wife who will know how to care for her husband. The expectations placed on young girls, to me, seemed unreasonable. Girls’ education should not be neglected and it should be considered of equal importance to that of boys. Yet this is not necessarily the case.

'Seeing young children who ought to be in school out selling items at the market was a far too common occurrence' photo © Gavin Edmondstone

‘Seeing young children who ought to be in school out selling items at the market was a far too common occurrence’ photo © Gavin Edmondstone

Gender is not the only barrier to education. Low family incomes and lack of funding also play a massive part in low school attendance. Whilst out in the community of Kpunduli, I met a woman who could not afford to send either of her two teenage daughters to school.  Instead, she sent them to Accra, the capital, to earn a living at a popular hotel carrying guests’ luggage. It is a saddening and sobering thought to know that without formal education, the employment that these girls have obtained will possibly be the best employment they can gain. Yet this situation is not an unfamiliar one — many parents cannot afford to pay school fees. Continue reading

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The Grey Areas of Slum Tourism: Part 1

A shack near Bloemfontein, South Africa, has walls made of corrugated metal and plywood. Inside, rusty kitchenware hangs from the walls alongside a mirror with a chipped, white frame. There is a traditional “donkey” (a wood-burning water heater) and a long-drop toilet outside, but these are probably not used.

The donkey and long-drop toilet are only for show as it turns out that the residents of this “slum” have an electric geyser and a shower with running hot water inside the shack. That’s not all. This special shanty town comes complete with air conditioning, a TV, a fridge, Wi-Fi and even, wait for it… a spa.

The Emoya Hotel boasts a spa and tours of the game reserve © South African Tourism

The Emoya Hotel boasts a spa and tours of the game reserve © South African Tourism

The Emoya Hotel’s slum experience has taken the abasement of the poor to a whole new level. For just under £50 — almost double the average monthly wage of a slum citizen — you can stay in one of Emoya’s shacks. According to the website, this “experience of a lifetime” is ideal for “team building, braais (South African barbeques), bachelors and themed parties.”

It is sickening enough that the owners of this hotel are exploiting some of the world’s poorest people for their own profit, but what is more disturbing to see are the high ratings given by its visitors on TripAdvisor. One review reads: “Set menu for the dinner with ample food,” another: “Breakfast was adequate.” Just like the real thing then…!

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Giving Pakistan’s Nargis Latif the Recognition She Deserves

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Pakistan: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

Poverty, overpopulation, terrorism, corruption — these are just some of the words which come to people’s minds when they hear the name Pakistan. During my time as a student in the UK, I have witnessed various reactions when I’ve told people I’m from Pakistan. Some of them have been quite funny — “Is there Nandos in Pakistan,” and “How do you speak such good English if you’re from Pakistan?”

After a silent chuckle over the silliness of these questions, I have usually tried to respond to these queries as maturely and informatively as possible, explaining to everyone that Pakistan is not that different from the rest of the world. These questions always ultimately made me feel upset — Pakistan so rarely makes it into the news, and when it does, the articles are always negative. No wonder the rest of the world has such negative ideas about it! Continue reading

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