According to Investopedia, poverty is a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living. Poverty means that the income level from employment is so low that basic human needs can’t be met. Poverty-stricken people and families might go without proper housing, clean water, healthy food, and medical attention. Each nation may have its threshold that determines how many of its people are living in poverty.
It is no doubt that the world is blessed with abundant human resources and others, yet poverty remains a global scourge that has refused cure. While tremendous strides have been made towards reaching the Global Goal of ending poverty entirely by 2030; 736 million men, women and children are still classified as living in extreme poverty- surviving on less than $1.90 a day.
For many reasons which can become compounded, poverty persists in many lives and nations. According to a post on homelesshub.ca, poverty can strike during an unexpected crisis: a serious health problem, job loss, or divorce. These crises can be particularly debilitating when compounded by other risk factors such as low education, limited skills training, lack of savings, or lack of family supports. Poverty can result from personal struggle – physical, mental, or emotional – and many people experiencing poverty are faced with a lack of emotional, psychological or financial support. Poverty also exists because of bigger systems: changing market demand for skills or labour, gaps in social safety nets, the high costs of education and health, or because of systemic discrimination. Poverty exists for all these interlocking reasons and is compounded by the interaction of causes and effects.
Despite all the several intertwining factors that can be responsible for poverty, history is filled with stories of great men who have broken free from the shackles of poverty. What do they know? What have they done differently? And how can others learn from them and be delivered from the grip of poverty? The answers to this question can help us understand how mentoring can help to overcome poverty.
According to Wikipedia, Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored, but he or she must have a certain area of expertise.
Billionaires don’t always come from rich backgrounds, In fact, many famous billionaires grew up poor. But they were exposed to resources provided by a mentor, allowing these individuals to succeed in educational, and ultimately for many, professional pursuits. These mentors were family members, family friends, work and school associates, and concerned members of the community. And Just as the saying goes “Knowledge/awareness breeds courage and courage breeds success”. For example, Oprah Winfrey by focusing on school, participating in beauty pageants and then working at a radio station, was able to enter the media world. She got her big break in television as a host for the local Baltimore talk show, “People Are Talking.” Later came “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which entered national syndication in 1986.
Ralph Lauren fashion is known for its polo shirts and high-end ties. But did you know that there was a time when the iconic fashion designer, the founder couldn’t even afford clothes? “As a kid, I was always into clothes, but I didn’t have the money to buy them,” Lauren told fellow billionaire Oprah Winfrey in a 2002 interview. “When I’d get my brothers’ hand-me-downs, there was an energy in me that made me say, ‘I want to get my things, to make my statement.’ Somewhere along the line, that energy — coupled with my exposure, through movies, to a world I hadn’t known — turned into something.” He’s now worth a whopping $5.9 billion.
There are several individuals like Oprah and Ralph, who through exposure made possible by mentors were able to change their lives and become an inspiration to many.
Each child is born with a wealth of potential. Unfortunately, many are unable to fulfil their potential due to circumstances beyond their full control. Mentoring provides young people with the tools they need to succeed both personally and professionally. Several initiatives by groups that believe in mentoring as a means to overcome poverty have yielded has yielded positive results. Through effective models that foster a sense of partnership with those living in poverty, without further isolation, and use the power of connections to create lasting impact, organizations like the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and LIFT in the USA have been refining their model over the years to respond to the changing needs of those living in poverty. CNCS, for more than 20 years, has placed people committed to service in communities across the country to take on the toughest challenges like homelessness and hunger on the front lines through nonprofit partners. LIFT uses a unique model to pair low-income people with mentors and advocates that provide a range of support from confidence building to access to jobs, education and safe shelter.
Pairing low-income individuals and families with people who are advocates and mentors are where organizations are placing their bets to create pathways out of poverty for individuals that help entire communities thrive.
Mentors can also help guide their mentees through such important tasks as polishing a resume, negotiating debt repayments, setting up a bill-paying system, finding a job, ensuring good childcare and discussing life strategies.
Photo Credit: Bloomberg News