As most of you know I currently am in Lima doing an internship at Edyficar, a microcredit lender here in Peru. After having visited and worked for a day at their lovely head office in San Isidro district, I've been sent "on the field" to see how the real microfinance works.
I've been told that I was going to San Juan de Miraflores, a district south east of the capital. I thought it was close to the district of Miraflores, where I currently am staying (the one that my friends commented on by saying that it looks like Beirut) - it's a lovely neighborhood. So I was kind of disappointed of the location because I wanted to go somewhere really "nasty" to see the real field work and be very hippie and all.
So as I was traveling south buckled up in the back of my fancy taxi at 8 in the morning, I noticed that the surroundings started to change rather drastically. The buildings were decayed, the streets were full of badly dressed people - a.k.a poor people - the nice taxis of Miraflores suddenly got replaced by tuc-tuc style vehicles and many buses. It was as if I was watching a Broadway play and in only a few minutes (20 minutes to be exact) the set had been totally changed. I was really shocked not because of the poverty (I had seen similar things in some streets in Tripoli) but because of the proximity of the wealth and this explicit poverty. Well I should've had a clue when my colleagues told me not to take a lot of cash, no credit cards nor any expensive showy objects. I took my sunglasses anyway because my eyes are sensitive, but also because I wanted the poor to know that the people who are taking care of them are exclusive.
An hour after I got to the agency, I had my first field trip. And this is where I got really shocked by the actual level of poverty. The residential neighborhoods of San Juan de Miraflores were like something I had only seen on some French TV documentary, and I probably said "ewwww, gross" at the time. I couldn't take any pictures because I didn't have the right to carry my camera, but here is what it looks like (pic from Google Images) - it may look like something you've seen in a magazine before - but trust me, it really is different when you see it with your own eyes:
I was shocked not only by the obvious awfulness of this town, but by its size. It expands for miles and miles on hills and on plains. It's everywhere, it's like a disease spreading all over these dry and arrid mountains. The streets are filthy (even filthier than my imagination could have pictured), they were overcrowded, noisy and stinky and the populace was running around the unpaved roads trying to survive in this gruesome environment. After having processed all this shock behind my Ray-Bans, the first thing that came to my mind was "why on earth are these people still reproducing?" How can they think for one second that their child would live a decent life in such a hideous place. The shanty towns grow exponentially and every second woman on the streets is pregnant or is walking around with two or three children. It's like they are out of control and shag all the time.
I thought that the most obvious way to have them reproducing less is education. But I will not open this subject, because it is not even a debate, everybody agrees. Another solution would be cable TV - which helped reduce the fertility rate in some provinces in India. Many other factors could be used to try to reduce the birth rate, like free condoms, but I don't think any would work. Everything seems to fail when it comes to poor people reproducing - even religion. Yes, religion did not want the poor to reproduce either.
Catholicism states that you should have kids only if you are married, otherwise it's anti-God. So the Church forces (well use to force) people into getting married before having the right to reproduce. But it wasn't that easy, the cost of this marriage was outrageous - look at how much you have to pay in Lebanon to get married in the Church (this may not be the case elsewhere, I don't know, but in Lebanon you could pay up to 10'000 US$ to the dumb ass priest). Usually I am TOTALLY against the church and the wedding concept in Lebanon...but now I understand better why it is so expensive: it's to prevent the poor from reproduce that much!
So yes, the Church hates the poor: the Church put all these restrictions (1- having to get married first and 2- getting married is expensive) so that only the rich could reproduce and so that the poor struggle to do it. But Jesus didn't know that the poorer the people are the more kids they have!
As I said, there seems to be no solution to that problem. I really don't know why they have so many kids (and I don't want to hear "it's because the mortality rate is high" or "it's because the kids will help them once their old" - they're stupid excuses!)
So poor people, if you are reading this, please use condoms...or get married and spend all your money on your wedding. Thanks.