June 19, 2008

“I’m a man of means, by no means…”

I’ve mentioned before how some men in Itipini earn their living by pushing their modified grocery carts into town in hopes of earning tips helping people cart loads around. Every morning on the drive into the clinic, I pass a veritable flotilla of such carts and men headed the opposite direction to work. Sometimes when I am driving in town, I’ll see them hard at work, their carts weighed down by huge loads, navigating the busy and chaotic streets that are downtown Mthatha.

I see the man in this picture virtually every day. I don’t know his name and he’s never been a patient in the clinic in my time but he’s a fixture in my daily routine at Itipini.

Before I came to Itipini, I had, of course, heard about the world’s poor who lived on less than a dollar or two a day. What I’ve realized while here is that the dollar doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It can require a full day’s worth of difficult, physical labour. And all that earns the person is the right to bare subsistence.