June 2, 2010

Blood, sweat, tears

A couple of weeks ago I was the poorest i had ever been. My bank account was empty, I had to going through the bottom of all my handbags to get enough change for a train ticket.
But I did find enough change to get to uni. And I was able to improvise meals from things we had at home rather than go out and get groceries. And I knew that on Thursday I would be getting paid.

But it got me thinking about how grateful I should be that I have these things. I’m never going to starve. It was an eye opener for me to be living day to day knowing I had no money.

It was around this time that I started watching a series on ABC2 called Blood, Sweat and T-shirts about factories in 3rd world countries that produce the clothes that we wear. The idea was that they took young people from England to see the factories that made the clothes they loved to buy in chain stores and see if they could cope with working in a factory. Then there was a series called Blood, Sweat and Takeaway, which is the same premise but looking at the food industry. The first stop was a factory in Indonesia which canned tuna.

The girls in the English group gave part of their wages to the lady they stayed with – and she burst into tears because the equivalent of $1.50 meant that she could afford to get a bus to go and see her children; something she couldn’t afford to do very often. How sad to think she worked all week and couldn’t make enough to catch the bus to see her children.
It seems too awful to even consider living like that.

What kind of price do other people have to pay so that I can live the life I’m accustomed to?
And yet when I go the grocery shopping I agonise over every cent because I'm conscious that I'm on a budget. I go for the bag of flour that costs $1.20 rather than $2.30 because that $1.10 could be used to buy milk instead. But am I adding to the problem by buying the no-name brand? And how do I know if the more expensive brand treats its workers any better?

The world is a mixed up place. I don’t have any answers. Yet I think that at least thinking about it is the first step.

(photo credit)


amy said...

My mom tells a story about when we were kids. She had three of us at the grocery store (I think the other two weren't born yet) and popsicles were on sale for ten cents. She remembers sitting in her car and crying because she didn't have ten cents for a popsicle. We made it through those times and she was always awesome at making do with what she had.

These are the times that make you who you are. You will look back on them and be thankful for all you had and all you learned.


Erin said...

Thanks Amy :)