HPU students experience effects of poverty
BROWNWOOD – November 8, 2011 – Eight Howard Payne University students recently spent a weekend experiencing first-hand the hardships faced by many in our nation and around the world every day. Students in Dan Humeniuk’s Social Services and Policy class participated in a poverty simulation sponsored by Mission Waco, a Christian-based, non-profit organization seeking to aid the poor and marginalized while also fostering compassion among the more-privileged.
According to the World Bank, more than 1.4 billion people in the world live on less than $2 a day. Mission Waco designed the experience to give participants a chance to “see the world through different eyes.”
According to Humeniuk, chair of HPU's Department of Social Work, Sociology and Criminal Justice, major challenges experienced by those living in impoverished circumstances include dealing with general uncertainty, a loss of personal empowerment and unexpected circumstances which can include lack of reliable transportation, illness or even loss of housing.
“Each participant received a voucher for the equivalent of feeding a family of three for six meals based on government poverty guidelines,” he said. “The participants then faced choices in regard to spending those funds on clothing, food or lodging. Participants also experienced a loss of items that establish personal identity, transportation by foot, food insecurity and a possible lack of shelter.”
All activities were well-monitored and most took place on the Mission Waco property. The weekend concluded with the participants joining in a multicultural worship service which included people from all economic circumstances.
Sophomore JulieAnn Steubing, a social work major from Rising Star, said the experience was something she will never forget.
“I did not realize how blessed I am to have all the things I have and going through the simulation was a great reminder of how blessed I truly am,” she said. “I would recommend that everyone go to learn not only about the people in need, but about themselves.”
The students returned to their lives at HPU more aware than ever of the circumstances faced by many right here in Brownwood.
“The number of people in America who are living in poverty is increasing,” Humeniuk said. “For our group, the experience only lasted a weekend, but for most people in poverty there is no end in sight.”