In my last couple of days here in Buenos Aires, I have made a point of talking with a couple of elders in order to see their points of views on their society. There is one thing that I got out of both of the conversations – the environment we grow up in is crucial to who we will be. The education we receive from our environment greatly influences who we will be as individuals.
Here are some of the important conversations I had with locals about the problems they see within their society.
When I volunteered with Techo, an organization that assists those in poverty, I met someone who talked about his life and the struggles he faced. The man was in his late 30s, an immigrant from Paraguay, and he said he had to work a lot in order to provide a roof for his family. He didn’t necessarily say where he worked but he said he has to wake up at five in the morning and work until the evening. He spoke about how he wishes he could have more time with his children, but due to the circumstances he is in, it’s not possible. Not to mention, the lack of parental guidance within the household can cause problems in the aspect of child development. I think this is the reason why many people who are in poverty stay in poverty. The context that they live in doesn’t permit them to seek out other opportunities. People who live in impoverished zones like this man are often neglected and in the end nothing is done to improve the situation.
One day I walked to a nearby park within my neighborhood. I sat on a bench next to an elderly man who was enjoying the sun. I started the conversation in hopes of getting his opinion on his country. He didn’t have much of a positive outlook on things. He spoke about how much crime there is, and that it’s everywhere, even in the upscale neighborhoods. One of the things he spoke the most about was the family. In his opinion, people need to do a better job of raising kids in the right environment. He talked about how education at school is one thing but education at home is another. “Six, seven, or eight hours of education at school is of no use if the kids go back to a home where the father is an alcoholic or in a hostile household without the right parental figures”, he said.
I found that statement to be very true. I think that what he said not only applies to his home country of Argentina but also the rest of the world. The environment we grow up in and are exposed ultimately dictates how we will turn out to be. This is why social community programs are very important, especially in impoverished neighborhoods. If we give parents and children the resources and tools necessary to thrive in our society, it would be the best humanitarian investment we could make.