“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” -Mother Teresa
A friend of mine in the neighborhood died last week from an infection connected to bad dental hygiene…he was 60.
He was one of the first people I met when I moved into the East Central neighborhood in 2006.He was mentally disabled and aging…a group that often gets forgotten in a culture where whether your 'Hot or Not' or how much money you have or what you can do or have accomplished is what makes you valuable and worth people's time and attention.
Our state is in a budget battle and Senior Services are one ofthe areas they have decided to begin to cut. Basic Health, a low-income insurance is one of the programs to go, support of families who assist elderly members of their family with at home care is gone too, as well as certain prescriptions and other services. When I see the many struggles related to health issues in the lives of the poor, disadvantaged,elderly and disabled…I know that more deaths will follow. This isn't fear based politics…it's reality in our neighborhood.
I've seen poverty's ability to swallow up and slowly erasepeople who are easily forgotten. The peripheral people in our communities are often the ones who suffer in silence. I know a refugee man who pulled his own tooth this year and another mentally disabled man who doesn't turn on the heat in his own home. These types of situations are often rooted in confusion about service providers, costs and complex structures that overwhelm the mentally challenged. Without active and involved family or social service advocates or programs to assist, educate and equip the poor…people will suffer and that suffering is increasing.
I am sad today…because a man, a neighbor and a friend…died needlessly because of poor health-care, and that provokes me to action.
I will go to a local dentist office that opened up in our neighborhood and share the story and try to clear paths and connect available programs topotential clients.
I will vote for more help to themarginalizedand working poor this November.
I will remember to visit my friends who are vulnerable in my neighborhood and not forget them when it's cold and the economy is tough.
I will pray that God will open my eyes to the struggles and opportunities all around me, to get involved in people's lives and help make a difference and maybe even save lives.
I will not forget to brush my teeth and I will tell everyone else to do the same.
And last of all, I will not forget that true biblical ministry and mission never forgets the poor, even if our politics elbow their needs out of the state or government budgets.
I won't forget you my friend…and I pray others won't as well.
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