"Poverty is a state of mind" is an expression I have always enjoyed and lived by. It has helped me through the days when I was dirt-broke but never poor. What is poverty? Is it having insufficient funds or is it simply an abstract phenomenon? Since moving to Ghana the abstract nature of poverty has been clearer to me and no time has shown that more than now.
As the credit crunch has hit, bashed and violated the Western world, turning national economies upside down, some nations are coming out on top. Previously wealthy nations are suffering to handle the state of their current economy. Iceland provides the perfect example, shocking the world by being on the brink of bankruptcy, when it was previously considered a rich nation. And just days ago Ghana was mentioned on international news as a nation whose economy was booming with a highly rated stock exchange, despite the global credit crunch.
So, a little (but great) nation in Africa is suddenly soaring economically while the rich world tumbles and falls. Who's poor now? The mindset we've been brainwashed with outside Africa for decades, of starving children with flies sitting on their faces, definitely does not represent the picture of Africa today, of Ghana, especially the Ghana to come in the next few years as we observe the economic boom that will come our way.
Does poverty only refer to pecuniary insufficiencies? From my first day in Ghana I had to re-think the idea of poverty. What we have materially in Sweden, England and other countries does not measure up to the value of warmth, humanity, kindness and generosity of mankind that we find in Ghana. I repeatedly tell people that in my three years here I have NEVER felt alone. Not for one second, ever. Whereas in my heyday in London, even at a dinner table full of friends I could feel completely lonely. Here, I am rich, there I was poor, not matter how many pound sterling were in my pocket. Although I am making less money than I have ever earned before (don't worry, I am working on sorting that out!), my life has never been richer before.
So whether we look at poverty as a matter of finance or as a word to describe any form of riches we may or may not hold, today we must reconsider which people, which countries and what other aspects of life that we regard as rich or poor.
What is poverty? Just a state of mind.