Fiction in response to Decent Work and Economic Growth
August 2018

A Day in the Life

By Georgia Bernbaum

I live in a nice house, go to a good school and have new clothes. I always come home to a big dinner and go to bed full. It is hard for me to imagine experiencing poverty. Poverty is defined as the act of being extremely poor, which thankfully, I have never been. However, I am only one out of 7 billion people in the world, and lots of these people are not as fortunate as I am. I believe that in order to have a productive society, everyone needs to work together. I'm not so naive as to think that this will come easily; however, we can start small. Therefore, I have decided to try to put myself in the place of a girl my age who doesn't have a nice house, doesn't go to a good school, or own nice clothes or go to bed with a full stomach.

 

I roll over on the air mattress. I had been twisting and turning all night; it was like this every night. I can never fall asleep, always worrying about the next day. It was 6:30 a.m. when I woke up this morning. I quickly got on my sneakers, the hole in the front of them growing just enough I can almost poke my big toe through. I then grab my jacket and rush out to my bike. I have to be quiet because my four other siblings are still sleeping.

 

As I get on my bike, it begins to rain. This is just my luck. I have been trying to get rid of a cold for the past two weeks. As I arrive at the food bank, I immediately regret not leaving earlier because the line is already winding around. I get in line behind an old man, and he smiles at me. I sneeze and look down at my shoes that are filled with water. It was either new shoes or a week’s worth of food, it was always a tradeoff. Finally, at 8:00 a.m., the doors open and everyone rushes in to get breakfast. I know the drill by now as I grab my food and look for a place to sit, all the seats are taken. I watch as the old man who was in front of me in line offers his seat to a pregnant woman. I scan the room. There are people crying, and people yelling. They are sad, angry and hopeless. I try to remember when this became my new normal. My dad had been let go from his job because the economy wasn’t doing well. He has had trouble finding a job, especially without a college education. I make my way back home, praying that this is the last time I would have to go to the food bank, even though I knew it wasn’t.


This isn’t just a story; instead, this is the reality of 45 million people in the United States. The truth is that poverty eradication can only exist through stable and well-paying jobs. Out of the 45 million people, 7 million are unemployed. This means that 38 million people are employed, but are not making enough money to rise above the poverty level. Behind these facts are real people facing real consequences. We need to invest in education, create more jobs, improve working conditions and provide access to social programs and basic services. A day in the life of a poverty-stricken family is a day no one should have to experience.

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