July 30, 2011

One Week Down! (Day 8 - July 30, 2011)

That Poverty Guy (Sean Krausert)
Day 8 - Unshaven / 227 lbs
 Following yesterday's meltdown, I'm feeling pretty good today.  (See Day 7 if you want to read about it.)  I think I needed to get some things out of my system in order to prepare myself for the rest of the journey.  I'm feeling stronger and more committed than ever to standing up on behalf of those in poverty.

Last night was a cool one . . . down in the range of 3C or 4C.  That said, I slept well!  Just woke up a few times to cover myself up again.  And . . . I'm REALLY EXCITED because tomorrow morning I going to have a shower and will put on my "fresh" clothes ( . . . as described on Day 3, it's amazing what a little water, some rubbing on a stone, and hanging them in the sunlight and wind will do!).  Whether or not it looks like it to a stranger, I will be wearing my Sunday best when I arrive for church in the morning.

You can decide for yourself if there is much of a difference in my appearance from the picture on the left to the one that was posted on Day 1.  To my surprise, I am 6 lbs lighter!  I'm not alarmed though as I have been eating fine . . . but just goes to show you what a little more walking with no snacking can do.

I will not likely be posting another blog until Tuesday (Day 11).  Reason #1 . . . I will be busy playing around with a video camera and editting program in order to get some video blogs going.  So stay tuned for that.  Reason #2 . . . I won a free One-Day Pass to the Canmore Folk Music Festival from the local radio station . . . so That Poverty Guy is going to go lay in the park and listen to some music all day!!  Rest assured I will still be living without the comforts of home.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

A Guide to Posting Blog Comments


I hope that the following instructions will help you if you are having difficulty in figuring out how to post a comment to a blog entry.

Step #1  -  If a "Comment Box" isn't shown following the blog entry or other comments, then click on "Post a Comment" (or something similar indicating "comments" following the blog).  This will cause the "Comment Box" to appear if it is not already displayed.

Step #2  -  Type your comment in the "Comment Box."

Step #3  -  Select a Profile, which is simply determining to whom the comment will be credited.  You have 3 different types of profiles to choose from:

(a)  You may sign in with a profile from one of the listed accounts (e.g. Google, LiveJournal, WordPress, etc.).   This will then state your profile as it appears on the chosen account.


(b)  You may select "Name/URL" in order to simply leave your name.  A box will appear for you to type your name, which will also invite you to leave a URL (but that is entirely optional).


(c)  You may select "Anonymous".   I hope you will only select this option if you are sharing something personal and you are more comfortable sharing being protected by anonymity.  Of course, if you are taking issue with content or otherwise challenging what is offered, then it would be much preferred that you be willing to let your name stand with the comment.

Step #4  -  Click "Preview" if you want to see what the post will look like.  You have the option to edit the post if you choose to do so.

Step #5  -  When you are ready to post your comment, click "Post Comment".  Whether you are on the original screen or the preview screen when you click post comment, you will be directed to a "Word Verification" screen in order to type some characters that you see on the screen.  This is to prevent spam.

*Please note that if you click "Post Comment", or click at any of the steps, and nothing happens . . . then simply click it again (as sometimes it doesn't register the first time).

I look forward to reading your comments.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

July 29, 2011

Losing It (Day 7 - July 29, 2011)

Smile?!? Not right now.
Right now is probably one of the worst times to be blogging, and yet one of the best for you to get a glimpse into this experience.  I'm in the midst of an "episode".

Here's the situation . . . I just finished washing my laundry outside (and so I am currently wet from the splashing involved); I've a got a burning rash in my "down there region" due to heat and chaffing from all the walking yesterday (aka diaper rash); I'm already feeling fed up with not having a life due to what I have given up for this project; and I've just gotten a suggestion of what I should be doing differently to make the project better . . . good suggestion, bad timing.  (I'm freakin' ready to explode!!)  And then . . . I remember that I have 11 more weeks living without the comforts of home.  (Now I'm on the verge of tears . . . seriously.)

(I need to vent . . . and so please know that what follows is blowing off some steam.)  I may not have mentioned this before, but my tent hasn't been used for about 15 years because . . . I don't like camping.  I don't like being dirty, I don't like being subject to the elements, I don't like bugs (. . . thankfully, there are few bugs).  I can't stand not having options . . . of what to do . . . and where to do that what I am not doing.   Worst of all . . . I absolutely hate the fact that I am upset when so many others have it so much worse than I.  (I can't even describe with words how pathetic I feel.)

(I take a deep breath . . . and then another . . . and yet another . . . and one more for good measure.)

Then, I remember why I am doing the project.  It's because I care.  I care that there are people who go to bed hungry at night and feel what must be the worst pain in the whole world . . . not being able to feed their kids.  I care that people have to pick through dumps and live in slums in order to survive.  I care that the poverty cycle gets entrenched because kids aren't going to school (and they want to!), basic health needs aren't being met, and so much of people's time is spent looking after their basic needs - walking miles to get water, gathering fire wood, finding food, and protecting themselves from the elements.  I CARE SO MUCH THAT I AM WILLING TO MAKE SACRIFICES (even if from time to time I lose control and feel terrible) AS A SIGN OF SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE IN NEED, AND AN EXPRESSION TO THE WORLD THAT POVERTY MUST BE ADDRESSED!!  (Sorry for yelling . . . I just get rather passionate at times.)

(Another deep breath . . . this time followed by a wonderful healing sigh.)

And, finally, I remember my hope.  While everything I am experiencing is temporary, it is my hope that the days of systemic, entrenched poverty in the world are also numbered.  I truly believe that there are enough resources in the world to ensure that everyone's basic needs are met.  There can still be rich people, and most of us in Canada, the USA, Europe, and various other places will continue to live the good lives that we have come to know.  I have hope that as a society we can recognize the priority of applying sufficient resources to make sure everyone has enough, that as communities we can pull together to catch those in our midst who are falling through the cracks, and that as individuals we can simply do a little bit more than we are right now.  All of us working together CAN eliminate systemic poverty.

I feel better now.  Really.  (And, Mom, I will go through these emotions from time to time . . . and that is okay so you don't need to worry.)  Thanks for listening.

A couple of items, food for thought, after I have read the above:

1.  While some may think that my episode is because I am used to "having" and so is not really about poverty, but rather my own loss, let me put this out there.  First, in this interconnected, globalized world with communication capabilities beyond anything before seen in history . . . many of the poor know that they are poor and missing out on better things in life (at least that others have it way better even if they don't know specifics).  Second, a good number of those who are caught in poverty actually have previously known better themselves . . . having suffered from a trauma or illness that caused them to lose everything, or having lost everything in a natural disaster, or having been forced to flee their home due to conflict or famine or persecution.

2.  What I have just done, and which helped me immeasurably, was to reach out to others to share how I was feeling.  For some in poverty, especially in the developed world, no such network exists . . . thus their fall into poverty.  For others in poverty, especially in the developing world, the only thing they have is a network of relationship, but unfortunately their entire network is in the same boat.

(A final deep breath . . . I am completely through my "episode" and able to get back at it.  I've now got some press releases to do, some other communications, and a newspaper interview this afternoon.)

Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

July 28, 2011

That Poverty Project . . . Raison d'Etre (Day 6 - July 28, 2011)

That Poverty Project is about . . . unleasing compassion on a global scale like hasn't been seen before.  There is no doubt that there is compassion in the world as demonstrated by many.  There is no doubt that when tragedy strikes a lot of people stand up and do their part.  However, the problem is that the compassion displayed by many is far outnumbered by the apathy shown by most.  Further, those that stand up are often the same people over and over again.  I believe that we can create a world where more people exhibit the compassion that is already within them (and influence their leaders as well), and that with more people (and their governments) involved the load is quite light for all.  And . . . the resulting world in which we live will be better for us all!

How does That Poverty Project play a role in "unleashing compassion"?  Step #1 . . . build understanding.  Like a bridge connecting two distinct parts, That Poverty Guy walks from "have" to "have not" reflecting and communicating along the way . . . perhaps helping each of us see our world a little differently.  Step #2 . . . from understanding comes empathy.  When people understand the problem and that at our core we are all similar, and what it looks like to be in someone else's shoes, it is natural to be able to empathize as to what it may feel like to be in the other's shoes.  Step #3 . . . I believe that when people empathize with another they naturally gravitate towards taking action.  This action or engagement with the problem is called compassion.  Understanding begets empathy, empathy motivates action, and that action is compassion.

So . . . what do you think?

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

July 27, 2011

Oh Baby! (Day 5 - July 27, 2011)

Tantalizing . . . alluring . . . steamy . . . enticing . . . welcoming . . . HEAT.


Refreshing . . . life-giving . . . life-sustaining . . . cleansing . . . invigorating . . . WATER.


Purifying . . . purging . . . lathering . . . decontaminating . . . sanitizing . . . SOAP.


Guess what I did today?  You got it!!  That Poverty Guy is now squeaky clean and feeling like a new man after partaking in a glorious, luxurious, singing-at-the-top-of-my-voice shower (. . . or as I like to call it . . . a little taste of heaven).

Do you think I'm going a little overboard in my description?  Last week I might have thought so, too.  However, after feeling grubby for several days and having to put up with some smells emanating from my body that I don't recall ever emanating before, I may actually be understating the euphoria I felt as I drifted out of the shower stall aloft on a cloud of steam.

I hadn't realized how much I took having a shower for granted.  I hadn't realized how much of a benefit a shower could be for one's self-esteem and demeanor.  I hadn't realized how much being able to take a daily shower contributes to our standard of living.

So my learning today is that some of the essential things that contribute greatly to our well-being are often quite simple . . . a nutritious meal . . . a glass of water . . . a blanket for a warm sleep . . . a caring touch . . .  a shower.  When we start to think in terms of the essentials, we can better understand that which is needed to fight poverty and how little things can make a huge difference.

What are some of the simple things you may take for granted?

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

July 26, 2011

Splat! (Day 4 - July 26, 2011)

Poor me?
Life is weird.  Sometimes you're an 18-wheeler roaring down the highway of life, and at other times you're the bug splashed all over the windshield.  Today I ventured momentarily towards the latter.

Now I want to be perfectly clear . . . THIS IS IMPORTANT  
(. . . did that grab your attention?) . . . this project is absolutely not about me doing things to get anyone's pity.  On the contrary, That Poverty Project is about building greater understanding and empathy for those who are way, way, way worse off than anything that I am doing.  I see my role as being akin to that of a bridge . . . betwixt and between for the purpose of connecting.

However, I'd be lying to you, and doing you a disservice, if I didn't let you know that I've been having waves of self-pity while my self-esteem has been taking some hits.  (That's right . . . start the violins playing, Maestro.)  First, after only a few days of doing this, I'm REALLY missing some things . . . TV . . . my warm bed . . . watching a movie with my family . . . and did I mention TV?   Second, I find myself feeling very much a second class citizen . . . not having the opportunity to drive myself anywhere . . . looking a little grubby . . . not having any money which then prevents me from doing what others are doing . . . and people calling me (mostly in jest) "bum" or "crazy".  I expect that I will get used to it, but for now I must recognize the feelings that come when you start to be "without", explore them, share them, and remind myself of the billions of people who have it far worse than I do and for whom I am doing this project.

Before you run to get me a tissue or reach out an gently pat the computer screen to console me, please know that I am fine.  However, it really makes me think of how those without resources must feel when they interact with a society within which they cannot truly participate.  It's like being the last one picked for the team, and then having nobody pass you the ball when the game is on.  Whereas I can fall back on the fact that this project is temporary, and I know that I have a lot going for me . . . those who are really in the grips of poverty can easily get chewed up and spit out.  Or splattered like a bug on a windshield.

My main learning for today is how people can get brought down by the environment in which they find themselves.  And, if they do not have the tools or wherewithal to pull themselves out of the muck, they could easily drown in their own self-pity.  Poverty can be, and is for many, a self perpetuating vicious cycle.  So while some people need a little bit of a hand up, they also need to be reminded that they are precious, unique, and valued.  Loved.

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt terrible about yourself and couldn't see how it would ever end, and then someone's touch or kind word was like a light that vanquished the darkness?  If so, I would love to hear from you about it.

Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

July 25, 2011

Stone-Washed Jeans (Day 3 - July 25, 2011)

That Poverty Guy's basin
and "Laundry Stone".
What a gong show!  I consider myself a man of the world and, with a couple of university degrees to my credit, reasonably educated.  However, despite all of that, it took me well over an hour to hand wash a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a pair of socks, and one pair of undies.  Let me tell ya . . . it's harder than you would think!

First, I had to figure out how I was going to get the deed done.  I had no detergent or soap at my disposal, and, of course, no laundry machine.  While I recalled watching women in both Africa and Central America taking their laundry down to the river and beating the wet clothes over rocks, the thought of starting an environmental disaster by washing my undies in the nearby creek quickly vanquished that idea.  Ultimately, I decided I needed to find a basin for water and a large rock upon which I could scrub my clothes.

After scavenging for the necessary materials, which included "borrowing" a rock from my wife's flower garden (. . . sorry, honey), and filling the basin I found with the cold water at my disposal, I finally got down to what I thought would be a relatively simple task.  Wrong, wrong . . . very wrong.  
  • Complication #1 - It is very difficult to fit a pair of jeans into a wash basin and still have water left over for anything else.  Thus, multiple trips to refill water.
  • Complication #2 - After only a few seconds of having my hands in the cold water, I developed what I can best describe as "brain freeze" in my fingers.  I am humbled by memories of seeing women in the highlands of Guatemala breaking ice covering water in troughs in order to wash clothes . . . they didn't even blink while I was almost delusional with hand pain.
  • Complication #3 - I had no idea what I was doing!  Do you rub the clothes on the rock hard or gentle?  If you rub the clothes too hard on the rock will they get holes?  Why in the world am I rubbing my clothes on this rock???
Eventually, I established a system - get all the clothes wet; rub them on the rock (supposedly to loosen dirt); rinse them in fresh water; and finally wring them out before hanging them in the sun to dry (sunshine kills bacteria in absence of soap . . . I think?).  HOWEVER . . . have you ever had the pleasure of wringing water from a soaking pair of jeans?  Unless you have the forearms of Popeye, this is a tremendously strenuous and cumbersome task.  The primary thought in my head as I wrestled with my wet jeans was, "Boy, Grandma must have been one tough cookie!"

At one point in the wringing fiasco, it occurred to me that a washing machine spins very fast in order to draw the water from the clothing.  Accordingly, if you drove past me at approximately 10:30 this morning you would have been treated to the sight of a grown man spinning in circles with a pair of wet jeans looking like a helicopter trying to take off.  Well, I didn't take off, nor did the jeans lose any water in the "spin cycle" and so I was back to wringing them out.  In due course, all the clothing was hanging to dry in the sunshine . . . and I am pleased to report that my clothes are now daisy fresh.  I'm so proud!

Before closing, I should share two of my "poverty learnings" today (other than how to wash clothes):

1.   Living without much stuff changes your priorities.  Whereas normally my work would trump laundry in a second, the need for sunlight to dry the clothes meant I had shelf my work in order to get the laundry done in the morning . . . and get it done today since it is forecast to rain tomorrow.  I was really glad that I didn't have to walk for miles to get to water like many in the world do, otherwise laundry would have been a full day affair and I would have gotten absolutely no other work done.

2.  It is difficult to be very productive when you do not have the proper tools with which to work.  Chores that should take minutes can take an hour . . . work that should be easy can become very hard.  One can work twice as hard as someone who has the proper tools, and yet get only half as much done.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

July 24, 2011

"It's Not My Fault!" (Day 2 - July 24, 2011)

This morning I awoke to a popsicle sliding underneath my left cheek.  At least that is what it felt like . . . it was actually my hand.  My first night in the tent was met with a nifty 3C.  Hopefully tonight will be a little warmer as I obviously have some acclimatization to finish.  I am adding a blanket tonight, especially since my sleeping bag's zipper is broken.

On the flip side, I have never before so enjoyed the warm morning sunshine on my face.  It was truly glorious!  And, while in talking-about-the-weather mode, I discovered a change that has already emerged in me despite the short distance along my journey.  I now look at forecasts differently.  Daytime high . . . who cares?!?  It's the night-time low that I want to know.  I also made a mental note that with rain in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, I should probably give my "unmentionables" a rinse on Monday so that they have time to dry before the rain sets in.

I walked to and from church this morning, which also gave me the opportunity to meet up with someone whom I have not talked to for some time.  During our conversation, I let him know that I was doing That Poverty Project to raise awareness about poverty issues.  His immediate response was - "Poverty?!?  Why should I do anything about that . . . it's not my fault!"  From there he went on to mention how people should just work harder, and I noted that I have met many really hard working people in poverty situations.  Next, he reminded me how there are so many bad governments and tyrannical dictators who cause the poverty of others, to which I agreed there are some terrible governments but think that we should not ignore the victims simply because we disagree with the offender.  And, when I commented that I didn't know what I did to deserve being born here in Canada with lots of opportunities and relatively good governance as opposed to somewhere else where there is no such opportunities (. . . or peace . . . or much of anything for that matter), he slapped me with my daily dose of "Our Forefathers".  I reminded him that in many of the places struggling in the world, it was because our forefathers attacked their forefathers and supplanted the indigenous culture, thus effectively setting back their development by many generations.

As I prepare for a warmer night's sleep, with hopefully dreams of warm sunshine on my face, it occurs to me that we must be very careful when thinking of our role with respect to poverty.  Tackling poverty is not about assigning fault, but rather is about compassionately addressing the needs of another regardless of who is to blame.  The work ethic of those in need, the morality of their government, or the advances of our forefathers are not reasons to turn away from poverty, they are simply excuses to console ourselves when we turn away.  For me it comes down to loving my neighbour as myself . . . doing unto others as I would want done unto me.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

July 23, 2011

Don't Believe Everything You Think (Day 1 - July 23, 2011)

That Poverty Guy (Sean Krausert)
Day One - Clean Shaved / 233 lbs

This is the first of what will be a daily blog . . . chronicling my experiences and thoughts throughout That Poverty Project.

When not inhabiting a tent, I have a reminder on my desk that says . . . "Don't believe everything you think." Those words kept coming back to me today.

If you asked me yesterday, I would have told you that I really thought that I wouldn't learn anything on the first day of the project. Well think again Seannie-boy . . . everyday is a day for learning. Everyday offers the opportunity to re-examine what we think.  For example, when I was putting up the tent this morning I had trouble getting the pegs into the ground. My first thought was, "Better get a hammer." Then I realized that I don't have a hammer (well I do . . . but I don't for the project), and went in search of a suitable rock. Another example happened when I was eating the lunch provided for me (sandwich, carrot sticks, piece of fruit, and a pickle). As I was gobbling down my food, it was disconcerting to realize that I was not in control of when I would eat again. It reminded me of a US Marine Captain I met in Washington DC a number of years back. We were going through a buffet line and I noticed his plate was stacked monstrously high when he remarked, "Gotta get it while you can 'cuz you don't know when the next time you'll get grub."

In fact, this first day felt partly like heading out on a military mission and partly like having lost my home, as if from a disaster or something. In fact, that leads me to another example of where people must not believe everything they think.

In our society, when asked about homelessness, most people will think of a "bum" . . . a dirty downtrodden drunk living and begging on the streets. While this is what most people think of, most people would be wrong. The vast majority of the world's homeless are so because of being driven from their homes due to natural disaster or conflict, or live in shanty towns or slums due to general lack of resources amongst the population. Only a minority are the "bums" or street people we often think of, and we are even mistaken about those, too. Many homeless on the streets have suffered a hardship or battle an affliction or addiction that has resulted in them falling through the cracks. They're people just like you and me, but in need of a helping hand to get on their feet. Further, some homeless people have jobs, but do not earn enough to put a roof over their heads. Hmmm . . . things that make one re-think what they believe to be true.

As I head into my first night in the tent, I hope that I will be warm enough and that the tent won't leak or get blown away. But . . . as I hope to remember in the middle of the night . . . this is nothing compared to what many will endure tonight - those who do not have any shelter, those who will not have food in their stomachs, and those who have families living in the same conditions.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

WHY Do That Poverty Project?

Because . . .

·      1 out of every 10 Canadian children live under the poverty line.

·      Half the world lives on less than $5 per day; nearly 1 Billion people suffer from hunger; and approximately 2 Billion people do not have adequate water supply or sanitation.

·      Food & water, shelter, access to health care, basic education, and freedom from fear are basic human rights.

·      With very little effort on the part of those who “have”, a world of difference can be made in the life of a person who “has not”.

·      We live in a world with sufficient abundance to meet the needs of everyone.  The only thing lacking is the political will and compassion to do so . . . which can change.

·      Through raising awareness about poverty at home and around the world more people can get engaged in the process of eradicating poverty everywhere.

July 19, 2011

The Comforts of Home Are Quickly Fading

In a mere 4 days I will find myself living in a tent without any of the comforts of home. No comfy bed, no central heating, no fridge welcoming cravings at any time of the day . . . just me, some sleep gear, and hopefully enough layers to keep me warm through the night. Starting on July 23, come along and follow my experiences. Let's find out together what is on store as I journey from have to have not. Simply sign on to follow this blog, and I'll be in touch on July 23 with my first entry.