The Poor and the Rich
HAVANA TIMES — For some time now – around two months, I would say – my younger daughter, who recently turned seven, has developed an obsession with the issue of the rich and the poor.
It all began in a class at school, where the teacher explained that, before the triumph of the revolution, Cuba had a lot of poor children who couldn’t even go to school or died from simple diseases, because their parents couldn’t pay for medical attention, children who didn’t own a pair of shoes they could wear and lived in very precarious homes.
The class was the end of me. Since then, folks, my little girl, smart as she is, is driving me crazy asking me about the difference between the rich and poor, whether there are rich people in Cuba, whether we are poor because we don’t own a car and live in a small, tawdry home, or whether we are rich, because we have a TV, fridge, DVD player and computer.
In short, she’s asked questions here and there and I’ve tried to answer as best I’ve could. Thankfully, as the saying goes, everything that has a beginning also has an end.
Last weekend, we went to see some cousins we hadn’t visited in a long time. Both my cousin and his wife had spent 7 years abroad, working first in Venezuela (three years) and then in Algiers (four more years).
We were received with a big song and dance. They prepared a big lunch, with dishes one should always have, including entrees, two main courses and dessert (ice cream and chocolate cake).
Giselle wasn’t much impressed by all of this food, even though they offered her soda crackers, butterscotch candy (her favorite) and many other things. There was one thing, though, that caught her eye and had her thinking. I guessed it from her frown and the way she fixed her gaze on several things in the house, like the 15-meter pool at the end of the patio.
After a fabulous day of anecdotes, laughter, hugs, Cuban food and drinks, we went home in my cousin’s modern car.
As soon as we set foot inside the house, Giselle said to me, in a rush: “Mom, mom! Yuli and Tony are rich, very rich. Now I see the difference between rich and poor!”
2 thoughts on “The Poor and the Rich”
They may be too difficult for a 7-year-old, but I can recommend these articles:
What is (capitalist) poverty? http://www.ruthlesscriticism.com/poverty.htm
Why are many people in developing countries poor: http://www.gegenstandpunkt.com/english/poverty.html
I guess some people are rich in material things and others may be rich in cultural things. Your daughter shows me that perceptions of wealth are fluid and there’s no definite answer.
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