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Poverty and Social Justice

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Abstract

This paper looks into the issue of poverty and social justice. The paper shows the contribution of poverty to social injustice. This is done by examining a social organization which fights poverty. This paper examines the City Team Ministry one of the many organizations which is helping to reduce poverty. The beneficiaries of the organization are interviewed to shed light on the issues of poverty. The questions used in guiding the interview are appended.

SECTION I

City Team Ministries was started by Lester and Pauline Meyers in 1957. It began as a feeding program. Four years later it expanded to include women in its feeding program and still later in 1069 merged with another ministry to bring on board homeless and troubled youths. In 1983 it changed its name San Jose Rescue Mission to City Team. In 1987 the churches in Philadelphia invited the City team to start national expansion to the East Coast. This was to serve the greater Delaware valley. The City Team Ministry records that this was the period that the full long term recovery program for men was started. Further the website claims there were continued increase in the number of the children and women who suffered from abuse, addiction, crisis pregnancy, abandonment and homelessness. To bring on board the women and children the city team ministry launched three programs three programs: heritage home and house of grace in San Jose and well baby program Philadelphia. The programs caused a lot of changes in the lives of the women ands children (City Team 2010).

The City Team International was launched in 1997 in an effort to broaden the City Team. In 2007 the name was changed to New Generations International. The New Generations International is specifically concern with training, equipping and coaching national leaders in 38 countries. This division cares people through the provision of compassionate services such food, clean water, education and medical services (City Team, 2010).

The City Team Ministry has a disaster response team which started in 1989. The first beneficiaries of this team were the victims of the Loma earthquake. Afterwards the team has responded to and sheltered the victims of the Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in 2004. Since 2005 the response team has developed a four phase framework specializing in the long term recovery of communities affected by the major disasters (City Team, 2010).

The mission statement of the ministry is, "In obedience to Christ, passionately transforming individuals, their families and communities throughout the world" (City Team Ministry para. 4). The programs which are offered by the organization are as follows: rescue missions, men's recovery programs, youth outreach, family programs and church advancement. These programs will be explained in a detailed way in the course of the paper (City Team, 2010).

Section II

I carried out an interview on clients served by the City Team Ministry. The interview was carried out after obtaining permission from the ministry authorities. Six classes of people were interviewed one from each program offered by the City Team Ministry. The fist person interviewed was a beneficiary of the rescue mission. This program is designed to offer a hot meal and a safe night's sleep. The program offers temporary emergency care to the homeless. A young man who had just been released from prison was one of those beneficiaries of this program who was interviewed. He has an Islamic background and was headed to the streets after being released but bounced into the agents of the ministry who enrolled him in the program. For the sake of this paper he will be called 1A.

The second person to be interviewed (2B) was a black man an addict of drugs. He was a beneficiary of the men recovery program. He was not homeless but had been driven to the streets after being left by his wife who was the bread winner. The man in desperation turned to abuse of drugs. The program agents enrolled him in the program and slowly he was making some progress in recovering from drug use.

The third interview was carried out on a group of street kids. These kids had an arrangement with the City Team Ministry whereby they met every Saturday and Wednesday. In the meetings they hold bible discussions and are groomed to become better citizens. These kids operate under the youth outreach program. Some of the have already being taken off the streets and are attending schools. The kids are of various backgrounds. The fourth interview was carried out on a family which is a beneficiary of the family program. This program offers basic needs like clothes to the families which can not afford the basic needs and view them as luxuries. The last person interviewed was a lady around the age of thirty who had been abused and was pregnant. She was taken in under the women's programs where she was taken care of through her pregnancy. 

Section III

This section presents the results of the interviews carried out above. The interviews were guided by the questions appended in the appendix. The interviews focused on how the clients have experienced social injustice as a result of poverty. Through the interview it was also possible to assess how the macro conditions of the society may have impacted upon the poverty experienced by the clients.

Person 1A: Education

The first interview carried out on person 1A who had just been released from the prison having been charged with mugging. He was a sharp young man aged 27 years who answered the questions succinctly though he was well educated having just attended the elementary level education. He could not continue with studies because he could no longer depend on his family which actually needed his help for sustenance. He therefore pulled out of school to help his   family meet the basic needs of life. Education which is a basic had turned out to be a luxury for him. This is one incident which clearly shows how poverty can easily cut short and change basic needs like education into a luxury irrespective of whether one is willing to continue studies or not.

Some macro condition of the society can equally contribute to making the access of these basic services a challenge (Kirst-Ashman, 2008). According to the National Academic Press (2001), "The U.S. system of education finance is characterized by large disparities in funding and opportunities" (National Academic Press para 1). This disparity makes attaining education in some region to be expensive. Expensive education coupled with poverty makes education almost unattainable. The property tax is basically used to sponsor the education at the district level. This means that a poor district will equally be unable to fund its schools leading to disparity in education among the districts. Another macro environment factor which may contribute to insufficiency education and therefore poverty is the attitude of some communities. Education is not taken seriously by some people especially in regions which have large numbers of poor inhabitants (National Academic Press, 2001).

Person 1B: Medical Care

The second person to be interviewed is labeled person 1B. This man was a victim of depression which led him to drug abuse. He had part ways with his wife who used to provide for the family and could not take care of himself therefore resorting to the streets. He looked as a man who was well built before. Before joining the men recovery program with the City Team Ministry he could not afford medical care being unemployed. He was sick on several occasions as he narrated but could not afford medical care. From the interview, the main reason he gave for not getting something casual job to work on was his ailing status. He also made claims that he could not secure a job in his status of health.

The interview with person 1B brings into limelight the issue of the access to health insurance. Health insurance is only accessible by those who are employed. Once one's job is no more and being not in position to submit the required periodical premiums the coverage is frozen and attaining medical care becomes hard. With the exception of such programs as Medicare and Medicaid it becomes extremely hard for the poor people to access medical care facilities (Cellini, McKernan & Ratcliffe, 2008). 

Street Youths:

This was the third interview which carried out. Some street kids who are beneficiaries of the youth outreach program volunteered to give information about their lives and the program they were enrolled in. The program offers a combination of youth activities and mentorship to youth especially those who are affected by the street ways of life such as drugs. From the interview carried out it was found out that the youths mostly lacked a source of direction and mentorship. Most of the youths interviewed under this interview group were willing to work on any casual job. A close cross examination showed that they lacked the presentation skills which would be quite necessary if they were to win the confidence of those they would work for.

Under this interview some macro conditions came into play (Kirst-Ashman, 2008). The first which was quite noticeable was the community. Some employers are likely to avoid employing individuals from some communities because of stereotypes which might be associated with them. For instance not all employers will be willing the street youths work for fears that they may steal from the workplace and cause some kind of conflict. The youths were mentored on presentation skills through the program offered by City Team Ministry.

Family

The fourth interview was carried out on a family which is a beneficiary of the family programs. This program is designed to help poor families have an access to basic necessities. This is done in form of giving the families quality second hand appliances, clothes and furniture. This has gone a long way to raise the standard of living of the families in the family programs. The family which were interviewed were able to live a comfortable life and invest money businesses which they could have spend buying the basic home necessities. Having a comfortable home environment is a basic for a family to concentrate on developing itself. This is quite significant especially for the parents who wish to see their children having a smooth life. From the family interview it was realized that children in a comfortable family set up are less likely to fall sick and have a potential of performing better in the schools.

This interview implicated that comfort at homes is a necessity which is vital in helping families fight poverty in by creating peace of mind. This helps the family members to maximally concentrate in their duties.  

Abused Lady

The last interview was on a lady who was an orphan staying with uncle. The uncle sexually abused her for some times after which she decided to run away after learning about the women programs at the City Team Ministry. During the interview the lady appeared tormented by the acts of her uncle. She could not report the uncle to the police because she dependent on him for the payment of her college fee. When she could not bear it any more she run way terminating her studies and later realized that she was pregnant.

The interview brought to surface the social injustice which silently takes place without anybody being aware of them. In this case poverty created a forum which an elderly person advantage of and exploited a young person. Poverty could not allow the lady to report the person for fear that she could lose her college sponsorship.

Section IV

This section will look at the issues of poverty at large. According to Anup Shah (2009) the poverty is caused by both individuals and governments. He examines this in a global perspective. He starts by analyzing the causes at individual levels. Being lazy and making poor decisions are the two reasons he gives which contribute to poverty. This is true but the he fails to talk about the victims of circumstances who find being born in poor families where despite any wise decisions made it takes a lot time to escape poverty. This happens to most of the children born in the ghettos of America. They start life with no basic education and nothing as a heritance. With no education and no money wise decision almost become a vague idea though not in most cases. Street musicians have been known to rise from dust but it should be noted that this may not happen to everybody born in the street (Anup Shah 2009).

Anup Shah (2009) also brings in the issue of the corruption and unwise government policies. Corruption is predominantly responsible for poverty in the third world countries. In the U.S. government decision may make some region poor. For instance the federal government should come in to aid those districts which are in a position to support their own schools (Anup 2009). NCLB Act is one way the federal government is doing that but there should be more efforts to ensure that all the school age going kids are included especially in  the poor regions. The government should adapt a friendly way of drug war techniques. Instead of just hundreds of youths to prisons they should find a way keeping these youths busy (Cellini McKernan & Ratcliffe, 2008).

Conclusion

Poverty and social injustice are two issues which seem to go hand in hand. Poverty creates a gate for many social injustices to be committed. This is so because poverty seems to handcuff the power of the people involved from shouting and demanding for their rights. Despite the many non governmental organizations which are fighting poverty across America, t he government has a responsibility in changing some of its policies which seem to foster poverty.

References

Anup, S. (2009). Causes of Poverty. Retrieved on February 4, 2010 from: http://www.globalissues.org/issue/2/causes-of-poverty

Cellini, S, McKernan, S. & Ratcliffe C. (2008). The Dynamics of Poverty in the United States: A review of data, methods, and findings. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 27(3), 577-605.

City Team. (2010). City Team Ministry. Retrieved on 4th February, 2010 from: http://www.cityteam.org/about/programs/

Kirst-Ashman, K. (2008). Human Behavior, Communities, Organizations & Groups in the Macro Social Environment: An Empowerment Approach (2nd Ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Thomson.

Kissane, R. (2008). Teaching and Learning Guide for: Assessing Welfare Reform, Over a Decade Later, Sociology Compass 2(3), 1115-1126.

National Academic Press. (2001). Equity and Adequacy in Education Finance. Retrieved on February 4, 2010 from: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6166&page=1

Appendix (interview questions)

1st interview (to person 1A)

  1. Do you view education as basic need?
  2. Given a sponsorship can you go back to school?
  3. How do you think would you be if your family had enough money?
  4. What could you have avoided if you had enough money?

    2nd interview (to person 2B)

  1. Give us your story?

  2. How has the men recovery program helped you?

  3. What do you think has kept you in poverty

3rd interview (to the street youths)

  1. What are doing to get out of your current situation?

  2. How have you benefitted from the youth outreach program?

4th interview (family)

  1. How is the family program helping you to fight poverty?

5th interview (abused lady)

  1. Why did you give in to be abused?


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