I am poor not Stupid and Lazy.

2013-07-10 10:17

Earlier this year I had a problem with the Financial Aid’s office. Like a good student that I am, I went to the office to raise my concerns only to be attacked by a member of the middle-class South African society. Was it because I am poor?

In most South African universities many disadvantaged background students study with government financial aid; and I am one of those people.

It happened that earlier this year I got half of my food allowance and I did not know where the other half went. I went to the office to raise my concern; unlike other students that got attended by administrators. I was sent to the Manager’s office.

I sat with a smile “I am here with peace” face and told her my story. After I finished telling her, she went to some backroom and came with a plastic.

It had Sugar, Maize-meal, Flour, salt and toiletries; and they were all in their smallest KGs and grams. The package was for emergency situations.

She put them in front of me and said; ‘Here you go, this should last you a month”.

After a long silence; I told her I won’t take the plastic because it was an insult to me. Unlike her children; I don’t have a parent to go to and ask for money. I only depend on the financial aid and that “Emergency” package won’t last me a week and that she knew that.

What came after  broke my heart.

The manager got so angry and grilled me for coming into her office with an attitude. She told me I was a lazy person who wanted everything to be .given to me

I was told that she along with other millions of South Africans is paying for my fees and I shouldn’t come to her office with a mentality of “entitlement” to the food allowance. I was made to feel guilty for being poor and having to rely on the government’s financial aid for food.

So to her, I should have not came and complained that I did not get all of my allowance like other students did. I should have kept quite simply because I am poor and I am done a huge favour for by tax payers.

And this is my call for the tax-payers who fill tired of helping the poor.

Firstly, we are poor not brain-dead and we would like to escape our situation and not be depended on you and your mercies.

No one likes being poor and relying on government hand outs to eat, go to school and get medication when sick. We wish we could pay for these ourselves without having to stand in long queues, fill in forms and be required to send in documents to audit our economic status We don’t feel entitled to Social Grants, No fee schools, government financial aid or free medications. Facts are, if government does not provide us with such we would not survive because our families don’t have any other source of income. Most of our parents are unemployed and it’s hard for them to find jobs because they were never educated by Bantu Education. They don’t have the skills needed by the labour market. Going back to the angry Financial Aid manager.

The simple answer I gave her was that I don’t feel entitled to a loan. I can never come to her office and demand her to give me her money.

I was asking from what the government gives me which I will later pay when I am working; it’s not just financial aid, it’s a loan.

After a long discussion; she apologized and told me the other half of my allowance will be on my bank account by the end of the following day and took the emergency package back where it was. I am sick and tired of people who only see us the poor as lazy people who like being poor and don’t want to do anything to escape their economic situation. What the middle-class South African needs to know is that like them, we the poor want to succeed. But unlike them, we don’t have the means. We then rely on government to give us those means. Politics

Whats really sad now is that politics are becoming contentious with more political parties coming it on the terrain. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that with a new political party formed; our democracy becomes healthier.

What I dislike is an increase on the manipulation and assumptions made by the middle-class and leaders of opposition parties.

On and interview on SAfm yesterday, Mamphela Ramphele said the ANC is taking the poor for a ride. That it bribes them with maize-meal and KFC for their votes.

This got me upset because there is an assumption on her statement that the poor are stupid and are unable to choose a political party of their choice. But if bribed with “KFC” and maize-meal, they will vote for whatever party that gave them those. Really?

An example

A family is poor; the government provides them with social grants to buy food. The family uses close by clinics and hospitals and they don’t need to pay for medication; the family also sends their children to a no fee-schools because they can’t afford to pay fees and after they matriculate, they go to varsity and the government covers their fees with financial aid.

If those are bribes; then I have to thank the government for bribing me and my family. It is because of those bribes that I am a final year student now. If I was never bribed I would be herding cows in Eastern Cape  or possibly opening a taxi doors for people.

To say the poor vote for a certain party because they are being bribed is an insult to them and to our constitution.

And this is where most opposition parties lose the votes from the poor. Instead of trying to understand their situation, they insult them with unfounded assumptions.

Follow in twitter @Esethu_u

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