Bridge Fall 2011
+Overpopulation: A Growing Issue +Poverty in Americaâ€™s Children +The Issue of Homelessness and Health
Photographer: April Walczak
tter From heEditor What would be considered poor? Is it being in the lower class? Not being able to provide proper meals or health care for your family? Or even living in a place that doesn’t have enough work for the amount of residents in the community. Whatever your definition of poor is, someone, somewhere is living it. This issue of MIAD Bridge focuses on the issues of lower class. Things that contribute to it, as well as the outcomes of it. It is something that can’t be ignored as it moves closer to home. With the falling economy, health care laws, and a rapidly growing population, more people are falling in class. The unemployment and poverty levels are increasing, annual income is decreasing, and more than 15 percent of the United States population is below the poverty line. Many magazine and newspaper articles touch upon poverty, but informing college students and young professionals about these issues first hand can make a difference. Many companies and organizations make is so easy to help those in need, but do people participate? No. Every year, Summerfest offers free admission for those who bring a non-perishable item; but how many people participate? Not as many as you think like. Instead, college students purchase a case of beer to get a free ticket. Saying that the young generation can make a difference is overused, but in reality, it’s true. The little things can make a difference, and the more people that contribute, the larger the effect. Most people go through minor tough times in their lives. You wonder where you’re going to get the money for next month’s rent or how they are going to pay their bills. Just imagine what it would be like to live that way every day of your life. At that point, it’s not just how you’re going to pay rent, it’s what you’re going to eat that day, if you’re even going to eat at all. All these people ask for is a helping hand.
MIAD BRIDGE . FALL 2011
20 26 27
Letter from the Editor
Overpopulation: A Growing Issue Volunteer
Poverty in Americaâ€™s Children The Issue of Homelessness and Health What Matters: A Testimonial
MIAD BRIDGE . FALL 2011
world population at 19:00 UTC 11/01/11
Overpopulat :a growing issue
Marian Sonsyadek Edited by
Between the rapid growing population and the heavy consumption of resources, the world could face serious repercussions sooner than later.
number can be a
difficult thing to comprehend, especially a number escalated in billions. I always find it a strange situation where a number becomes an abstraction and in the case of relating that number to a quantity of people it delves into obscurity even more so. Regardless of our inability to fathom the true weight of such a quantity, overpopulation is a real growing issue. Unlike the arguments surrounding other worldly controversial topics like global warming, overpopulation is an undeniable situation of our time. Overpopulation works in several ways. Some countries are directly affected by it, mainly China, India, and Bangladesh. What I mean by directly is that the number of people is greater than what the land itself can provide for and is supported, if possible, in consequence by outside resources. There are a number of other countries that fall under this category but not on the same scale of intensity as the countries mentioned. This was mentioned in an online article by Toshiko Kaneda, and what I feel, supports the fact that this has been going on for awhile and the consequences of that time span are as follows: “As
late as 25 years ago, China was concerned it Had too many children to support. Today, however, China faces the opposite problem: as a result of the success of its ‘one-child’ policy, the country
faces the prospect of having too few children to support a rapidly aging population.” Basically, the problem, or rather the onset, of overpopulation in China began some time ago, and it only took 25 years for the problem to catch up in terms of consequence. In light of that information, I feel that overpopulation should be addressed more head on and with studied methods to prevent similar problems from happening. Now that the consequential aspect of China’s overpopulation has been addressed, the health and justice aspect cannot be denied by virtue of the process of this problem. Food availability is a topic and problem that stems from overpopulation. In general I feel many cultural and societal issues can be linked back to overpopulation and there are many specifics that need to be honed in on. Because of the abundance of people in both urban and rural parts of China, the resources of the country itself are not plentiful enough to support this massive growth of people. Because of this, an economical aspect runs into the conversation as well in order to import food from outside sources to provide for the people. China is made up of two parts, both functioning in their own ways. Rural areas have families that are larger in order to live off the land. Urban areas depend on markets and grocery stores and usually have families that are smaller but there are more of them. This following quote is from an article written for CNN by Ann Hoevel in 2007 and definitely rings true to this day in terms of how rural and urban areas of China compose the problem through their respective factors. The quote reads: “This year is the first year that rural and urban populations are nearly equal, according to the United Nations Population Fund’s annual report.” The fact of the matter is that many, in this grow-
A Rapidly growing population:
world It will only take 100 years for the world’s total population to more than triple in size. The world population in 1950 was 2, 555, 948, 654 and in 2050, is estimated to be at 9, 538, 988, 263. This graph represents the top three most populated countries.
ing-to-a-stand-still population, will not get served. The condition of being poor in a developing country is in my opinion a thing that too often becomes disregarded so that more “important” matters can be discussed. This is based on my observations of America as well, and it is hard to say that these two super powers do not share a similarity. Granted, my claim could easily be discarded because I have never been to China and personally observed this existence of the poor. But if anyone were to make an observation of the current world, it is undeniable that the more despondent class systems can be found almost everywhere. Keeping in mind the existence of a below middle class or what people will call poor, another one of China’s stems of overpopulation can be put into perspective. That stem is directly linked to overpopulation because it concerns the Population and Family Planning Law. This law or the beginnings of it were uttered almost thirty years ago in a response to population trends and has been instated as a practice in the country for twenty some years. So it is not
like people were not aware that this situation was fast approaching and that a reaction was necessary. I think it is pretty interesting to compare how responses to this law through its effects can change in a very short period of time. In an article by Hu Huiting for china.org.cn written in 2002, Zhao Bingli, vice minister of the State Family Planning Commission, is interviewed. One thing that I picked up on was a response by Bingli and his positive tendency and response to the law at that time: “After 30 years of efforts, exponential population growth has been effectively controlled, and some 300 million births have been prevented. Under undeveloped economic circumstances and in a relatively short period of time, the country has realized a remarkably low birth rate.” I can see why that would be a positive thing to respond to at the time. The mission was to slow down population growth by limiting how many children a family can have and proved to be successful, results were in. Along with that limitation, birth control was also more advertised and promoted, and not
1950 2050 1950
only to a specific group but to the whole nation. I think it is also worth paying attention to the fact that Bingli calls to attention the “undeveloped economic circumstances.” It is almost as if to say that they knew that there were flaws in the foundation but they decided to build on it anyway. Economically and socially, the implications that statement holds, to me, is that if you are rich and could afford the birth control/abortion, you are in the clear. For those that cannot afford this almost, convenience in a way, are reprimanded with fines if they fail to meet the standards of the law. It is most certainly a justice issue. Everyone in the country is expected to follow the convention regardless
of their social standing, and whether it is fair or not can be debated to a great extent. Only four years (2006) after the interview with Bingli, in an article I mentioned earlier, this was said by Kaneda: “The dramatic fertility decline and improved longevity over the past two decades are causing China’s population to age at one of the fastest rates ever recorded, accompanied by an increase in the prevalence of chronic disease and disability in the population.” I think that this creates an interesting comparison in terms of how one thing can be perceived so differently and in a span of only four years, it is remarkable. Due to the fertility decline in China, the implication stands that a
World Population Timeline
4 Billion 5
great majority of the population is aging. With aging there will come need for health care. The problem then is that the youth cannot support the financial demands of the health care being provided to the elderly. There are definitely repercussions to what was originally supposed to be a problem solving proposition. I think that is what makes the topic of overpopulation so interesting, it is that it is a very sensitive condition that even an idea with good intentions can fall through. Globally, a lesson should be perceived, hopefully at least, that to deal with overpopulation we need to fully understand its parameters first. I mostly mentioned China and its bout with overpopulation because I feel more familiar with it due to media coverage. However, India suffers very similar symptoms. In an article on the BBC news website, India is linked with China through their overpopulation problems: “The Worldwatch Institute said the booming economies of China and India are ‘planetary powers that are shaping the global biosphere’.” I think India is even more worrying in light of that statement. It is undeniably smaller than China and yet in a few years its population is expected to pass that of China. So not only is India dealing with the same issues as China, minus the Population and Family Planning Law, but it is dealing with those issues in a much more confined space. Where China still has a large rural side to be supported by, India will be forced to pool outside resources to support itself. India does have the highest crop yields in the world despite its size but now that line of whether that is enough is being blurred. It becomes an especially threatening situation with expected rates of growth being so high. By 2050 the population of India is expected to be 1.8 billion (Hoevel). The somewhat terrifying thought that lends itself through this conversation is thinking about use of resources. As in, if India were
deal with the climate crisis, including Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ fail to discuss the danger of population growth will plunge us into an age of extinction and desolation unseen since the
to use the same amount of resources as the U.S., what kinds of repercussions could, not only India, but the whole world face? At the same time, through numbers and implementation of new technology, India and China could define proper response to the dangers of overpopulation. If the focus turned to properly addressing health and justice issues through use of new technology, I feel a lot of problems could be solved if not slowed at best. Things such as green architecture could lower the energy demands of a country as well as how more ambitious agricultural projects could ensure a country’s independence. Again, overpopulation is simply the umbrella term for a number of health and justice issues, but it is nothing that cannot be dealt with if the necessary amount of attention is appropriated. At this point, the United States enters into the conversation of overpopulation. The U.S. in itself presents a number of specifically different topics to the conversation about overpopulation. Going back to what I mentioned earlier in my writing, the thought that overpopulation is a statement of our time, one that cannot be ignored or disputed like other controversial topics could be, such as global warming. I feel like that statement, looking back on it, is like an ideal idea. In America, it seems that overpopulation is rarely discussed as a cause for something. I am unsure whether this is a result of the availability of resources in America, are we just blind to the idea of it? Overpopulation could even fit into the conversation about global warming. I found the discussion worded best by Frosty Wooldridge: “Books and documentaries that
end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs disappeared.” The statement is immense, but the fact of the matter is that it is a very small piece amongst a framework of discarded notions of overpopulation actually being a problem. America is growing at an accelerated rate not only based upon reproduction but on the seemingly endless flow of immigrants. I am an immigrant; I am technically and relatively part of the problem but as I mentioned earlier, there is indifference sometimes; I do not go about flogging myself because I consume in the same manner as everyone else here. That could actually be why America is somewhat blind to overpopulation. As a country our mentality is enthralled with the idea of the individual. We have a problem focusing on the whole picture, but it is the most important thing we should get around to doing. To me, it is hard to see how the topic of choice could not seem like a persuasive issue. There is a somewhat cynical simplicity to the topic at hand in my eyes. There is no hunger; there are too many mouths to feed. There is no health care crisis; there are too many people to tend to. There is no global warming; there is our inability to affirm the counter-productive methods of major money machines like oil. That inability, in my eyes, is a result of our numbers as well, the indifferent attitude, our collective cynical consciousness. There are so many of us that just consume, take for granted, and too few who produce, give back. There are a number of solutions to our impending confrontation with the monster we have made ourselves into. The question then becomes whether we are willing to research and possibly prevent that confrontation of a wrecked and dry human habitat before it is too late, or do we stay blind despite knowing better. That is the important thing to take away from the exploration of this topic, knowing that we have a choice to do what is right. _______________________________________________________ This was excerpt from “Overpopulation: A Growing Issue” by Marian Sonsyadek. Please contact email@example.com for the full article.
Works Cited “BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Booming Nations ‘threaten Earth’” BBC News - Home. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4604556.stm>. Hoevel, Ann. “Overpopulation Could Be People, Planet Problem - CNN.” Featured Articles from CNN. 25 Sept. 2007. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. <articles.cnn.com>. Huiting, Hu. “Family Planning Law and China’s Birth Control Situation.” China.org.cn - China News, Weather, Business, Travel & Language Courses. 18 Oct. 2002. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. <http://www. china.org.cn/english/2002/Oct/46138.htm>. “International Programs.” Census Bureau Home Page. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. <http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html>. Kaneda, Toshiko. “China’s Concern Over Population Aging and Health.” Population Reference Bureau. June 2006. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. <http://www.prb.org>. “Overpopulation in India.” Article Alley. 29 Dec. 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. <http://www.articlealley.com/ article_1923567_22.html>. Wooldridge, Frosty. “Overpopulation - America’s Greatest Calamity.” Jeff Rense Program. 12 Mar. 2009. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. <http://www.rense.com/general85/over.htm>.
Volunteer The Gathering Milwaukee, WI www.thegatheringwis.org 414.272.4122
House of Peace Food Pantry Milwaukee, WI www.houseofpeacemilwaukee.org 414.933.1300
Milwaukee Rescue Mission Milwaukee, WI www.milwaukeemission.org 414.344.2211
Waukesha, WI www.sharewi.org 262.783.2500
Milwaukee, WI www.hopehouse.org 414.645.2122
Riverwest Co-Op Milwaukee, WI www.riverwestcoop.org 414.264.7933
Hunger Task Force Milwaukee, WI www.hungertaskforce.org 414.777.0483
LIFT Second Harvest St. Paul, MN www.2harvest.org 651.484.5117
Habitat for humanity
Chicago, IL www.liftcommunities.org 773.303.0700
American Red Cross USA www.redcross.org MKE: 414.342.8680
USA www.habitat.org MKE: 414.562.6108
MIAD BRIDGE . FALL 2011
overty in Americaâ€™s Children Written by
Stephanie Rasmussen Illustrations by
A school lunch may be the most nutritious meal a child gets, yet, with the amount of sugar pumped into the food, it still wonâ€™t be the best they can get. Now that obesity, malnutrition and hunger are on the rise, what can you do to help?
For the first time in American history, today’s children will actually have a shorter lifespan than their parents (Politics). Childhood obesity, malnutrition, and hunger are becoming more frequent as poverty significantly increases. The wellbeing of children can benefit through changes in welfare programs, changes in the food industry and improving nutrition education programs in school systems. The wellbeing of future generations is at stake. Nutritionist Marion Nestle says “an ideal diet provides sufficient energy and essential nutrients to meet physiological requirements, maximize growth and longevity, and prevent nutrient deficiencies as well as conditions of nutritional excess and imbalance” (385-6). The primary factor associated with poor nutritional status is poverty, the inadequacy of family resources. Inequality in food access increases the risk of malnutrition and disease. Changes need to be made in welfare programs and the public needs to be educated on how to maintain healthy nutritious diets. The welfare system fails to provide an adequate safety net. Millions in the US are reported experiencing hunger and lack means to obtain food, despite the presence of a food system of great overabundance. Such inequalities to access food are factors that increase the risk of malnutrition and disease. “USDA reported that 12 million US households lacked food security; of these, 3.3 million households reported hunger, and 800,000 households reported severe hunger” (Nestle, 388). The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey concluded that 9 to 12 million families lacked resources sufficient to ensure adequate food intake (Nestle 389). “Households with children under age 18 were most at risk of food insecurity and hunger, especially if the members were Black or Hispanic or headed by females. Hunger studies and analysis data collected from surveys show the correlation
between food insecurities and hunger with income. “Although children comprise 25% of the total population, 40% of them live in families with poverty-level incomes” (Nestle, 389). Household income both above and below federal poverty level are experiencing food insecurity and hunger. The federal poverty income level is unrealistic when
“Only half of the households reporting hunger were receiving federal food assistance” (Nestle, 388-9). “Below poverty incomes are unequally distributed among Americans; they are characteristic of 11% whites, 26.5% Blacks, and 27.1% Hispanics” (Nestle, 389). Inequality in poverty means inequality in the wellbeing of the population. Too many families and children are not receiving food assistance and go hungry. Welfare programs bring food to the hungry, but what kinds of food are being consumed? Is food insecurity measured by food quality or food quantity? Millions of children rely on school meals during the school year. However, schools are no longer safe environments for our children to make healthy choices. The food industry recognizes the vulnerability in children, and thus they are the prime marketing target. More than 23 thousand schools have fast food franchises in the cafeteria (Politics). In 2003 New York City created a contract with Snapple giving them exclusive rights to sell drinks through vending machines at all city schools. Snapple was assumed to be a healthier choice than soda by city officials however the juice drink contains more calories and sugar than Coca-cola. Such sugary drinks have been associated with obesity in children (Politics). A learning environment should be the last place to receive misleading information. It is the public responsibility to set the example to make choices that better our wellbeing. Alcohol, drugs, and tobacco are banned from school campuses and junk food should be too.
MIAD BRIDGE . FALL 2011
Malnutrition can have negative influence on the cognitive development of children. Cognitive impairments from malnutrition can stay with a child into adulthood. Productivity and success rates in school are directly influenced by inadequate nutrition. In order to provide a better education for children we need to first address issues of food insecurity which is “highly correlated with deficient intake of calories and essential nutrients” (Nestle 389). Even moderate levels of malnutrition, common in the US, “induce physiological and cognitive consequences that are especially pronounced in young children: fatigue, impaired immune function, attention deficits, and impaired learning” (Nestle 389). Children in food insecure households or have hunger have “lower general health status, more physical symptoms, more mental health and behavioral problems, and more academic difficulties” (Casey 1407). Healthy nutritious foods need to be provided within the school system and easily available to all children, especially those with household food insecurities. ”Household and
child food insecurities are also influencing the “risk for overweight and overweight status among many demographic categories of children” (Casey 1407). Academic standards can’t be
met on an empty stomach. A child suffering from malnutrition is at risk for dropping out of school. Stronger nutritional education programs are needed in the school system and available to the public. Children who rely on meals through the school during the school year are going hungry during the summer months. The USDA asks for “communities and locales” to operate summer food programs using money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. According to a recent news release, the USDA is working on “alternative approaches to provide food benefits to children during the summer” but specifics are not outlined. If the government fails to provide food for our children, the community needs to become more involved. The welfare program often relies on the support of the community, but shortages of resources in a declining economy leave many without food. Previous information based nutrition education programs in schools are failing to make an impact. Behavior change programs with the involvement of families and community are a suggested replacement. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. It is difficult to measure the success of nutrition assistance programs when information is from a biased source. While the USDA offers an abundance of information of current food and nutrition programs, statements regarding success in providing “a safety net” in a government news
release lacked sufficient support when nutritionists and pediatricians provide data stating otherwise (USDA). The USDA awarded Child Care Wellness Grants to fourteen states, including Wisconsin. The program provides nutritious meals and snacks to infants, children and adults daily. Funds awarded to “local child care sponsoring organizations and institutions through states agencies” to “inspire innovative improvements to enhance nutrition and promote physical activity of the children” (USDA Grants). During an interview for my service placement at A.W.E. (Artists Working in Education), I was informed of the possible integration of wellness and nutrition activities into the art program. A few weeks after I started volunteering, I was approached with the opportunity to suggest some ideas. Through research and brainstorming I created several ideas for visual art based projects that reflected nutrition and healthy food choices. The ideas now make up a new nutrition and wellness curriculum that A.W.E. will offer to the urban community. Michelle Obama’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act passed on Thursday December 2nd, 2010 to reduce childhood hunger, promote health, reduce childhood obesity, improve program management and improve program integrity. The bill includes improvement of school meals and the involvement of the community. The bill addresses changes needed in the programs themselves, schools, community, and those running the programs. The bill allows more schools to provide meals to children and adults after school through the Child and Adult Food Program. Eligibility to free meals during school is expanded to cover a greater percentage of children. The bill allows for mandatory funding for pilot programs that provide food for children outside of school. It requires schools to become involved in the promotion and distribution of materials that inform families of meals available during the summer. Standards for quality of meals served at schools will help children receive the amount of nutrition needed.
Funding will connect the school with local and fresh produce. Improvements in wellness policies and funds for food will be addressed at schools. The bill summary addresses many issues regarding quality of food and accessibility of food in schools and states that it will enforce wellness and nutrition education programs schools and child care settings. Children enrolled in the federally funded School Breakfast Program and the Special Supplemental Food Program for Woman, Infants, and Children have shown to achieve higher scores on standardized testing (Braun). There is hope that the new adjustments in welfare programs and school system will make an impressionable impact on the wellbeing of children, but family and community involvement are important factors that aren’t addressed through the Obama’s new bill. In addition, funding for the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act is from cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, once known as the food stamp program. Another issue that still needs to be addressed is of the food industry taking responsibility by ending the marketing of junk foods on children. There are several factors that contribute to the wellbeing of children and one giant leap won’t solve all the current issues. By spreading awareness and getting involved at schools, organizations, and the community we can help children in making healthy choices and providing them with nutritious foods.
Works Cited Braun, Bonnie. “Nutrition Education: A Strategy in Welfare Reform.” University of Minnesota. Feb 1997. Web. 25 Nov 2010. http://www.exten sion.umn.edu/distribution/businessmanagement/DF6897.html Casey, Patrick H., et al. “The Association of Child and Household Insecurity with Childhood Overweight Status”. Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics 118.5 (2006): e1406- e1413. Web. 25 Nov 2010. Gundersen, Craig, et al. “Food Insecurity, Maternal Stressors, and Overweight Among Low-Income US Children: Results From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics 122.3 (2008): e529-e540. Web. 25 Nov 2010. Nestle, Marion. “Hunger in the United States: Policy Implications.” Food in the USA. Carole M. Counihan, ed. New York: Routledge, 2002. 385-398. Politics of Obesity: Confronting Our National Eating Disorder. Michael Pollan. UC Berkley. 3 Nov 2003.25 Nov 2010. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1639712309577829707# United States Department of Agriculture. “USDA Announces Wellness Grants in Child and Adult Care Food Program.” Washington: 0612.10, 19 Nov 2010. Web. 25 Nov 2010. “USDA Report Outlines Food Access in America.” Washington:0605.10, 15 Nov 2010. Web. 25 Nov 2010. United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry. Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Hearings 111th Cong., 2nd sess. Washington: GPO, 2010. Web. 3 Dec 2010.
MIAD BRIDGE . FALL 2011
The Issue of
sness ealth Written by
Becca Ahlf For those of us securely fixed in a social class higher than homelessness it’s probably difficult to imagine how we would get by if we lost all that we thought was everlasting, and we were forced to live on the streets. How many of us would be okay with losing a roof over our heads, our own private bathroom, or even something like the television or computer? There is so much that we take for granted, and in today’s economy people should be counting their blessings. The truth is that there are more than a million people who have been homeless for a significant amount of time. Some people can’t find work, others suffer from mental disorders or addictions, and some have no one to rely on but themselves, resorting to the streets. There are a variety of reasons why someone may be reduced to this unfortunate state. One thing is for sure--people will do what is necessary to survive, whether we as a society choose to help other people or not. It’s in human nature to find a way to survive. Many people would consider the homeless an eye soar or a burden on a community. When you see a homeless person going through garbage or sleeping in a park, they are doing what they need to do to ensure that they get through the day. When you have no home you are forced to live off the land in a way. Our public spaces are just a circumstance to the homeless. When you own no private and secluded space, public environments become your continual reality. Fortunately, there are legal places for the homeless to eat and sleep— homeless shelters. “A study by HUD from surveys in January 2008, released 7/9/09, indicated…About 1.6 million
people used some type of shelter or housing program at least once during the year. The actual total may be far higher since many homeless don’t frequent the places where surveys were taken, or don’t want to be counted” (Who are the Homeless?). Martha R. Burt states that the main homeless services that might be found in the United States are, “emergency shelter programs, transitional housing programs, mobile food programs, physical health care programs, mental health care programs, alcohol/drug programs, HIV/AIDS programs, permanent housing programs, voucher distribution programs, programs accepting vouchers, food pantry programs, soup kitchen programs, drop-in center programs, outreach programs, and migrant housing,” (Homelessness: Programs and the People they Serve 86). A universal issue at shelters is funding. Despite the pro-
grams out there, homeless shelters never have enough money. As individuals, a way that we can help greatly is by giving money to our local homeless shelter. More funding for life enriching programs would mean less homeless. Donating and actual time spent volunteering greatly impacts the community. At my place of service, it feels very good interacting with people and helping out. It feels good to know you are helping people out by giving your time to this center, but it feels good to interact with people that are ignored on the streets, like I said. These people get a lot of dirty looks and have rough lives, and it’s good to know that they can come to a safe place and be respected. I don’t know what I was expecting, but a lot of them just seemed like everyday people. I think out in our communities we view the homeless as being a different breed of human, because
their lifestyle seems so much different than what we are used to seeing. It was gratifying to be able to laugh and talk with people that might have made me uncomfortable if I saw them out in the street or rustling through a garbage can. When the shelter is done serving breakfast they have to leave. It’s at this moment that I feel most empathetic for them. There are homeless people that are not only thriving but also content with their situation, but after breakfast is done they have to go back out into the frigid streets of Milwaukee, and that saddens me. Furthermore, there are a few people that shake a lot, either from a mental illness or a drug addiction, I’m guessing. Its’ disheartening to know that there is no health care for these people other than what The Gathering can offer them. Within my family and group of friends we have health insurance so my view of health injustice isn’t shaken up too much, but being put
MIAD BRIDGE . FALL 2011
into this environment anyone can see that health care is essential for all people. It is an injustice that they should have to get sick and that society should have to pay for it. What seems just is that they be treated as a part of society, and that we all receive universal healthcare. Fiscally, if there were more funding for homeless programs, the government would save money that would have otherwise been spent on medical bills for the homeless. According to the San Diego News Room, “Medical and public safety services are inundated with pressures of homelessness. The county and United Way have looked into the highest users of services, and the findings show that among services such as county medical care, the prison system, the ER and psychiatric hospitals, homeless individuals may not be the highest users in each system but when cross-referenced these are people who use multiple services (Maggard). This quote shows that the homeless might not be the biggest fiscal problem in any one city system, but the fact that they are costing the city in many areas should say something to us. Not only is the homeless occupying the hospitals a lot, at the cost of the taxpayer, but also they are the ones ending up in mental hospitals, ending up in prisons, and ones in need of rehabilitation. Another quotes reads, “The first example of the cost of chronic homelessness was related to health care. Dunford, who previously worked in the emergency room at the UCSD Medical Center, worked with Scripps Mercy and the San Diego Police Department to record the charges of 15 frequent homeless ER users for 18 months. Their cost totaled $1.5 million.” This is downright shocking that people could get so sick. With the inaccessibility of free health care in the United States, we’ve been reduced to a
system of sick care. We are not a system that helps keep people healthy through a variety of systems. For those that don’t have a lot of money they are not going to go to the doctor unless they have something seriously wrong with them. The family in poverty, struggling to put groceries on the table, cannot pay for preventative care, tests, or see nutritionists like some others can. It’s sad to think that maintaining a healthy body and mind is not something easily achieved. According to Global Issues, the United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t have universal health care. Many European countries have very high taxes because of universal health care, and to my understanding, most Europeans are okay with that. In America, so many people dread taxes, but taxes are helping us finance things that benefit the entire society. Our taxes will pay the salary of policeman. We all take some money out of our pay, but police help keep us safe. We’re in an effort to always keep taxes low. When we do that we leave services, like health care, available to only the people that can afford it. If we had very high taxes, services would be more communal—available to everyone. In our current state of capitalism the rich are very rich and the poor are very poor. The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States is one of the greatest in the world. At some point we decided that money would be god and that the rich should come first in society. What we need to do to help our homeless is have universal health care, a path that, thankfully, we might be on our way to. As well, we need to engage in service because collectively or individually it benefits people. If we all chip in our time and money then we can help build relationships, strengthen our communities, and see the world change!
Works Cited Burt, Martha R. Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve. Google Books. Google. Web. 3 Dec. 2009. <http://books.google.com/books?id=DJh0xIqo2oYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=homeless ness&as_brr=1&ei=180XS43uPJHCyASmvcC2CA#v=onepage&q=isbn&f=false>. Million Homeless People Can’t Be Right.” New York Magazine 23 May 1994: 14-16. Google Books. Google. Web. 2 Dec. 2009. “Who are the Homeless?” Homeless American. Web. 03 Dec. 2009. <http://www.homelessamerican. com/whoare.html>. Maggard, Jocelyn. “Taxpayer Group Highlights Cost of Homelessness in San Diego.” San Diego News Room. 7 Apr. 2011. Web. 1 May 2011. <http://sandiegonewsroom.com/news/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=43404:panelists-taxpayers-group-discuss-the-cost-of-homelessness-in-san diego&catid=110:city-of-san-diego&Itemid=34>.
Photographer: Becca Ahlf
he smile when a little kid sees you, the laughter of a child when you play with them, the thank you that you get when you’ve helped someone out: those are all feelings that I love and are the reasons that helping others is what matters most to me. Not just helping others, but also the relationships that I build. They are self-rewarding, as well as positively impacting to those I’ve come to know. In the past four years I have been to Martin, South Dakota; Birmingham, Alabama; Thunder Bay, Canada; and Charleston, West Virginia. I went to every one of these places for the same purpose: to help others by participating in mission trips. Every single trip is filled with lots of events and projects for volunteers to do. The projects include helping out at kid’s clubs sites (where you play with children from the community), visiting elders, painting and working on houses, weeding, serving food, conversing with people at homeless shelters, and cleaning and working on campsites. I have done everything that is on that list, and I have loved every moment of it. When I went to Martin I encountered a little boy named Grover at the kid’s club site that I was working at. He was three years old at the time, and, like any other little kid, he was running around with an abundance of energy until he stepped on a nail with his barefoot. He needed a tetanus shot but couldn’t get one because he had no parent’s consent. After this ordeal, all this little boy needed was love and attention. And that is exactly what he got. I spent the rest of the day giving piggyback rides, running around, playing, and just having a great time with him. He may not have gotten the needed medical attention, but he did get attention that made him feel better. I benefitted too by creating a great connection and memory with a little boy and the feeling of accomplishment that I had made an impact and greatly helped someone. This means so much to me. The relationships built are one of the many reasons that I continue to go on mission trips. I love the feeling of knowing that I helped someone, and made an impact whether it is a long lasting one or a short one. The idea of getting to go out in a community and getting to
know the people within it is a great thing to experience. Mission trips are a great way to help out in the community away from home, but Sunday school at my church is a way I help out in the community closer to home. I have been volunteering with Sunday school since I was in 7th grade. I generally work with the preschool children ages three and four. Within Sunday school I teach music. I’m the one who chooses the songs, teaches the words and motions, and gets the little ones singing. I also “shepherd” the kids to the various stations which include art and story. In art I help with the making of art projects, and during story I’m the lap for the kids to sit on and the one to help them sit still and focus. I love helping out with the Sunday school program at my church because I’ve been with the same group of kids for the last two years. Watching them grow and having them learn my name is rewarding, but so is the fact that they come to me as their friend. It is this part that I play in their lives that is most special to me. Mission trips and Sunday school greatly influence my life. It is helping others and the satisfaction and fulfillment that I get when I know that I have made an impact that matters most to me in my life. To me it doesn’t matter what the size of the impact is, small or large. All that matters is that I did it.
- Rachel Ahlf
Special thanks E ditor
Becca Ahlf A r t D i re ctor
Becca Ahlf P h o t o g ra pher
Becca Ahlf I l l u s t rator
Danaya Khartchenko W r iters
Marian Sonsyadek Stephanie Rasmussen Christian Sis Rachel Ahlf
M i l wa u ke e Insitute of Art and Design 2 7 3 E . E r i e St. M i l wa u ke e, WI 53202 w w w. b r i d ge.miad.edu MIAD BRIDGE . FALL 2011
Published on Nov 7, 2011