Perspective on other countries - "going out to eat" - What is that like for people in poverty?

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Hi- I recently sponsored a child from a large city in Guatemala. In a recent letter, I am so glad to hear about their life. One of the things that they like to do is "go out to eat." In my own family, we hardly ever go out to eat. In fact, when we go places we take our own food along so we don't have to buy prepared food. One of the reasons is because purchasing prepared or restaurant food is very expensive compared to what I can get at the grocery store and make myself.

My question, what is going out to eat like for a person in poverty? Is it expensive like it is in the United States? It's just a strange feeling hearing that my sponsored child goes out to eat and my son and I just carried our food & drinks into the state fair in backpacks so we didn't have to spend the money on food and drink at the fair. In the U.S., eating at a restaurant with a family would cost several hours of wages. What does poverty mean? My experience with people from other countries who live in the U.S. is that they will have designer clothes and they will eat out at restaurants, but they will short things related to housing household supplies if they must.

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Posted 3 years ago

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Hi Beth,

Quite sure they mean buying a meal or snack from a street vendor means "going out to eat".  That would be about 50 cents to 1 dollar per meal.  We have 2 sponsor kids, 1 in Burkina Faso and 1 in Bolivia.

We sent 100 dollars per child for their birthday money and yes... from the purchases, we could tell that our child in Burkina Faso bought more items of necessity (food staples) than our child in Bolivia.

Burkina Faso 100 dollar birthday gift:
  • small mattress to sleep on
  • oil for cooking
  • cartons of spaghetti pasta
  • cartons of soap
  • milk
  • rice
  • corn
  • candies
  • ball to play with
  • clothes
  • shoes
Bolivia 100 dollar birthday gift:

  • clothes
  • American like breakfast cereals
  • Crackers
  • 3 pairs of shoes
  • socks
I saw in a documentary about Guatemala (Living on 1 dollar a day documentary on Netflix),a group of neighbors would each save a dollar and put it together in a pool every month and it would be given to a person in the pool so each family had a turn receiving a windfall at some point in the future.  This is how they look after one another and you get a chance to splurge and celebrate with ya.... possibility of eating out. 

Africa.... seems just harder... crops can't even seem to grow... the weather is horrible...drought or flood.  South America in a way.... is less harsh.  I am happy then if they do get to eat out.... there is still happiness and love in poverty. 

I know what your saying though........ I rarely go out to eat..... but it's personal priorities.  I have friends who have less financially, but enjoy going out to eat.  The person in charge of our Bolivian sponsor girl's center wrote in the letter to us about the center..... something along the lines of please pray for the parents because they like to go out and are big party people which is why the children suffer.... I am thinking alcohol is a problem .. Then you have the problem of not enough food for the kids on a daily basis.  But I believe Compassion is having workshops for the parents and  teaching and mentoring in a Christ-like method.  Our Megan from Bolivia wrote to us, she is 10 years old.... I enjoy going to the Compassion Center  and learning about Jesus because it is something new for me. 
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Hi Patty, Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights. In different things I have seen, I have come to the conclusion that poverty in Africa is much worse than poverty in Central America, even though it is very real both places and I am so happy to be helping my CA children. I have also noticed a difference in how gift money can be spent just because of different family situations within the same country (one of my children lost their father shortly after I started sponsoring, so they have had some very great needs to try to overcome, and I am so very pleased with the ways Compassion as helped them in using my extra gifts to make permanent changes for the family, once they got past the initial just trying to get enough food every day stage). You are right, personal priorities are different everywhere. I, too, could afford to eat out sometimes, but choose not too. It is sad that some kids have to struggle because of their parents poor choices, but I guess this is true everywhere. What an interesting story how the families pool the money just so one family can splurge. (Although, in my mind I would still save my dollar and in a year have $12, but there again it is personal priorities.) Thanks for sharing.
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Shannon Massey, Employee

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Hi Beth!
I think it is so interesting to read through and hear about the numerous different stories and experiences that other sponsors have had! I am thankful for places like this where you all have the opportunity to share with one another! 
It was such a smart idea to use a translation tool to see if there was a different context behind this sentence! It is incredible how the same words have such vast differences in meaning around the world! :) However, please know that if you ever have something like this come up, we would encourage you to write your child with additional questions and see what additional information they can provide you! Like you discovered, they may have meant something completely different, and often times you end up learning something new about your kiddo! 
Just to add a little bit of context, as I know a few of our friends on here have been wondering, Compassion does have very strict guidelines that they follow to decide which kiddos have the most need of our program. One of them is family income, which must be below $1.90 per day, many of which live far below that. Therefore, as you can imagine, going out to eat as we do here in America would be a whole different experience for families in these areas. 
Thank you again for your support of your sweet kiddos and for your time, encouragement and love that you invest! :) 

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