Responding to people in poverty in the Mexico City garbage dumps
Adapt this lesson plan for use in public schools, Christian schools, other private schools, homeschools, and other groups. (Correct responses in blue.)
The people who live in the dump communities of Mexico City (click here for map [PDF]) live in absolute poverty, which is defined as living on less than $1 a day.
1. What percentage of our world lives in poverty?
- Nearly half the world's population, 2.8 billion people, live on less than $2 a day.
- Of these people, 1.2 billion live on less than $1 a day. Think about it: That’s four times the population of the entire United States.
- Today, 1 out of 5 people in the world lives in desperate poverty. There’s not enough money for food, shelter, clothing—much less medical care. Poverty often leads to illness and death.
“The patterns of poverty that are passed from one generation to the next can and will be broken when the poor have the means and opportunity to be healthy and well-nourished enough, and educated and skilled enough, to fully participate in the decisions that affect their lives.” ~UNICEF, “State of the World’s Children, 2000”
2. Imagine what it would be like to live in this kind of poverty.
- What parts of your life would change drastically if you lived in poverty?
- What would you miss most?
- How would you survive?
- What would it be like if your parents could not afford medicine?
- What would it be like if you lived in a shack made of scrap material?
- What would it be like if you needed to work instead of go to school?
- What would it be like to live without running water?
- What would it be like to live without electricity?
3. What factors contribute to poverty?
4. Based on your experience in the exhibit, what is life like for children who live in the dump in Mexico City? (The most significant health needs are usually in areas where poverty is also the greatest. People in the garbage dumps cannot afford health care. They can’t send their children to school, and in many schools they are not welcome. Without healthy bodies and an education, dump children will follow in their parents’ footsteps and will continue to live as dump dwellers. The cycle of poverty is difficult to break.)
“Poverty leads to ill-health—but it also works the other way—ill-health leads to poverty.”
~Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, director general, World Health Organization
5. Is poverty preventable? How?
6. REAL. HOPE. How is Medical Teams International helping children in the dump and in other parts of Mexico? Read about our work »
7. What is the impact of this involvement? (Entire communities have hope. Children are healthier because they don’t have to sleep, eat, and play in the dirt. Mothers and fathers find work. People have clean water to drink and healthy food to eat. Active local churches have grown up around many of the Bible Clubs. People work hard to make positive changes in their communities.)
THOUGHTS FROM THE BIBLE
9. What does the Bible tell us about how God sees the poor? What should our responses be to the needs of the poor?
“[God] lifts the poor from the dirt and the needy from the garbage dump.” —Psalms 113:7
“Those who help the poor honor God.” —Proverbs 14:31
“Blessed are those who help the poor.” —Proverbs 14:21
“There will always be some among you who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share your resources freely with the poor.” —Deuteronomy 15:11
“[God] will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.” —Psalm 72:12
“The Lord cares for widows and orphans.” —Psalm 146:9
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” —James 1:27
“Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows.” —Isaiah 1:17
Think about it
1. How can you make a difference by giving, acting, praying, or volunteering?
2. If you had $100, how would you use it to help the poor living in the garbage dump in Mexico City or in Oaxaca, Mexico?
3. You can pray for people who live in poverty [PDF].