Insights from Sarah: Poverty as a State of Mind

We're close now, right? It's been a few weeks since these Thursday posts began and I feel we've grown in our relationship. Hopefully you have enjoyed the little snippets into my crazy brain and the issues that I ponder and wrestle with on a daily basis. So today, let's get a little uncomfortable. Let's talk about money. Still with me?

 To get the full effect pop over to Global Rich List and enter your income. The result will give you a comparison of your income level versus the rest of the globe. I learned that I am in the top 1.83% of the richest people in the world. And I work for a non-profit organization! What about you? If you bring in $50,000 per year, you are in the top 0.62% of the richest people in the world. How does that make you feel?

There were some other comparisons as well – how many minutes it would take me to earn enough to buy a cola – 3 minutes. For a person working in Zimbabwe? An hour.


Talk about perspective.

Along the same lines, there is a great graph over on Vox that shows how much Americans think a person needs to make to be considered “rich”. Studies consistently show the amount needed to be considered of “rich” increases accordingly as the salary of the person answering the question does. So, if you make $25,000 a year, you could consider someone that makes $50,000 rich. But if you make that “rich” $50,000 a year, you consider someone that makes $75,000 per year rich and so on.

From our side of the pond and by those definitions above, most Africans would live in poverty, as poverty is defined by us. They have little material possessions, few employment opportunities and limited access to education, healthcare and clean water.

In 2009, a person making less than $18,421 a year in Canada was considered "poor". That equals a rate of $50.47 per day. According to, a yearly income of $18,420 is in the top 9% of the richest people in the world!!! We have all the material things we could ever possibly imagine and have yet we are still miserable. We feel poor. We have free health care, free education and an array of employment opportunities made available to us. We have social programs, a stable government and safe drinking water. And yet we feel unfulfilled and disadvantaged and are ungrateful. For some reason, we continue to think that having more money would satisfy us.

The people I met in Africa did not seem to feel impoverished but instead lived with hope. Hope that good things were around corner. Hope that they could work towards a stable life. Hope that things are changing for the better. Poverty is a state of mind - and hope makes all the difference in the world.

 Sarah lives in Northern Ontario with her family and works at Muskoka Woods Sports Resort. Sarah and her husband have four children, and one grandson. She is an avid reader and learner.  In 2012, Sarah launched JustOne with Krista and they travelled to Kenya, Uganda and South Africa together. Sarah is still involved with JustOne through her weekly blog posts, and is a constant source of educating Krista and others on the world's needs. Sarah has a blog we love to read called "Recipe for Messiness" that is about finding beauty amidst our messy lives. 

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