Vincent and I just watched a documentary/expose about child poverty in NZ, and I'm stunned. I like to think I'm aware of how people in NZ live; that even if I don't personally know people in different situations, I know they exist, and have some idea of the numbers. I know - although I realise now that it's one thing to know and another to really know - that there are entire families living in garages in the same city where Vincent and I have a spare room to keep our clothes and for Vincent to write in. We donate monthly to KidsCan, and I think I know it's important... But maybe I don't. I'm so sheltered, and the kids I know are so lucky that I think, subconsciously, I've thought maybe the problem isn't as bad as it is; stupid when I have a pretty good grip on how hard families are doing it right now. According to the doco, 1 in 5 children in NZ live in poverty. While I was out for brunch with my friend this morning, complaining about how long the insurance will take to sort out our car, thousands of kids in my little country of 4.5 million were sitting at school, trying to concentrate in spite of having empty stomachs. In the documentary, I saw kids with scabies, and school sores, and kids in hospital with rheumatic fever - something that will affect lots of them for life. In most developed countries, these things are almost non-existent, and if they do occur they are caught early.
Watching the documentary, in shock, I realised how much of a lie we are selling ourselves, and our kids. We say how lucky we are to live here, and how good we have it - all of us, and yet thousands and thousands of our most vulnerable are sick and hungry and going to sleep in rooms with their entire families because their houses are so cold. We pretend we know what is important because we happen to live in a country that is naturally beautiful, when all the while we let children - the future - suffer. We put people with lots of money on tv, and in the paper, and we start to think these people represent us. They don't. 1 in 5. That means, for every four of the kids I know who go to the doctor when they're sick, one stays home and gets sicker and sicker, probably ending up in hospital.
We have to do something about this; how can we live with ourselves if we don't? If you missed it, you can watch the doco here. You can join KidsCan here; it's only $15 per month for one child, who will receive shoes, socks, a raincoat, and food at school. And on Saturday, we get to vote. We can choose a government who cuts welfare, sells state houses, and wants to sell assets that will drive up prices for things we can't live without, like power. Or we can choose a government who will invest in our future, meaning not just our environment but the most important asset we have - our little monsters.