Third World Country Essay

Like many backpackers, I travel a lot in developing or "third world" countries. You know, areas like Southeast Asia, India, The Middle East and South America, where costs of lodging, transport and food are low.

The reason these costs seem low to Western travelers, of course, is locals in these countries earn meager incomes and have generally poor standards of living. My extensive travel in the developing world has highlighted to me how incredibly easy our developed world lives are.

We Are Rich
The first developing country I visited was India, which is home to some of the world's most abject poverty in spite of the country's swelling GDP. The most memorable of the many encounters I had there was one with a poor orphan girl, who was running underneath my train as it sped toward Jaipur's Central Railway station. "Five rupees," she begged, jumping up as high as she could when she spoke so that those of us on the train could see her. Five rupees is equal to approximately 10 cents.

Fast-forward two years and I'm in the dusty town of Uyuni, Bolivia, gateway to the Salar de Uyuni salt flat. I was waiting in line at a local bank when an indigenous woman walked up to the teller next to me. She asked to withdraw five bolivianos (less than $1) from her account. The teller informed the woman that since the last time she had used her account, the balance had been completely eaten away by fees. Several of the locals who overheard this encounter quite loudly trash-talked the woman as she stumbled out of the bank.

Now, I don't completely discount talks of the "crisis" and "recession" back in the U.S. and Europe; times are indeed "tougher" than they've been in my lifetime. But when I hear people complaining about not being able to "afford" gas (usually, via Facebook on their $100-per-month iPhones), I get a little sick to my stomach. We in the developed world have become so used to having everything that we've equated going without one or two of those things to going without completely. For most of the rest of the world, being fed, clothed and sheltered would be sufficient.

We Are Free
I've always been put off by the notion of "gay pride," as gay and proud as I am. My travels in the Muslim world, however, have changed my perspective. Did you know, for example, that even a suspicion of being homosexual in parts of the Middle East and North Africa can land you in prison? I spent the month I traveled in Egypt and Morocco last year as in-the-closet as I've been since high school, which made things very black and white: Expressing oneself is a first-world luxury.

The freedoms we take for granted aren't just identity-related, either. While visiting the Banaue Rice Terraces in the mountainous northern Philippines, I struck up a conversation with my tour guide, who was also incidentally named Robert. He explained to me that although he took great pleasure in guiding visitors though his home region, his family's main source of income was his father's farm. Ignorantly, I asked him what he really wanted to do with his life. "What I want," he said, "doesn't matter. I need to work the soil to feed my children, who will need to work it to feed theirs." He smiled. "And so forth."

Although America is the self-proclaimed "Land of Opportunity," many people here feel disappointed or even cheated when they aren't able to immediately fulfill their dreams: They equate "opportunity" with "guarantee." Just like a child who cries when he doesn't get exactly what he wants for Christmas, they fail to realize that the chance is the gift -- opportunity is priceless! The chance to be yourself, to choose your own path in life, to be happy on your own terms. Most people in the world have no chance; indeed, they have no choice. We do!

We Are Safe
The first time I traveled to Israel I entered by land, and was detained at the border for more than five hours due to a passport stamp from Lebanon. At the time I tried to put it all into perspective. After all, I thought, Israel does face threats from all sides and has to do what it has to do to protect itself. Upon returning to Jordan, I would hear several first-hand accounts of the proverbial "other side" of the story, which revealed that Palestinians are actually the ones who should be afraid, with only rocks, stones and crude firearms to defend themselves against machine guns, tanks and white phosphorous.

Although both Israel and the Palestinian territories are small in size and population, the conflict between them is a microcosm of the tension that exists between the larger developed world and developing world population groups. The governments and, to a lesser extent, the people living in developed countries believe that the governments and peoples of third-world nations (particularly Muslims) present an existential threat their very existences. To prevent this, they pre-emptively strike out each and every one of these potential threats, often without debate or deliberation.

I have personally traveled to many countries that are said to be "harboring terrorists," from Lebanon to Egypt to Myanmar prior to last year's democratic elections. In each instance I've been shocked: Not only have I experienced literally zero outward hostility on account of being American, but the outpouring of generosity and kindness has been overwhelming (at least from those whose perceive me as being straight). That we feel threatened enough by such people to destroy them represents the most tragic disconnect of our time: We are so unaware of how safe we are that we create danger where it (mostly) doesn't exist.

I Am Thankful
The common thread I see running through public discourse and sentiment in the U.S. (and, to a lesser extent, the developed nations of Europe) is scarcity. We aren't rich enough. We aren't free enough. We aren't safe enough. Inherent in the concept of scarcity is entitlement, the idea that we should have more, but don't. Scarcity represents a lack of things, which precludes taking them from others. The overall dynamic of such a world view is destructive: When you source what you lack from someone or somewhere else, they become poorer and when whatever you're using runs out, you are also poor.

Traveling in poor countries hasn't made me want to join an NGO and save the world. It hasn't made me want to give up the freedoms and luxuries I enjoy, give them to people who don't have them and adopt a life of poverty so that I may understand the plight of the less fortunate. Rather, it has made me thankful, and caused me to consciously manifest an attitude of thankfulness. Thankfulness is the foundation of creativity and is the opposite of entitlement. Thankfulness is likewise the basis of abundance rather than scarcity.

Becoming aware of how rich I am, how free I am and how safe I am has, thus far, resulted in me feeling richer, freer and safer than I've ever felt. Am I actually any richer, freer or safer for it? I don't truly know. But I am certainly happier: I am more frequently satisfied than disappointed; I only rarely feel entitled; I often feel thankful. I don't feel confined by boundaries that others define but confident that they are figments of our collective imagination. I am not fearful of the increasingly bleak picture the powers that be paint of our future; I am hopeful that we can all paint over it before it's complete.

Follow Robert Schrader on Twitter: www.twitter.com/leavyrdailyhell

Third world countries can be defined as the nations that are economically, socially and politically unstable, and therefore, depend on other more developed countries. On the other hand, poverty can be simply defined as inability to sustain basic needs which are food, shelter, and clothes. In addition to this, poverty is also referred to as a lifestyle that denies and deprives one from opportunities and, to some extent, is characterized as a violation of human dignity. In other words, this is a challenge faced by people living in harsh conditions due to lack of money. Thus, it is clearly evident that poverty deprives poor people of decent lifestyle, proper medical care, and quality education system. Apart from this, poverty is a life full of challenging experiences, inconsistency, and unreliable sources of sustaining ones livelihood.

Civic engagement revolves around the issue of representation of society or the public by an individual or a group of individuals collectively. The central role of civic engagement is to ensure that the society benefits in the long run. This is done from a social, political, and economic perspective. In other words, civic engagement enhances equality, freedom, and justice to all individuals in the society. By this, people are enlightened and empowered to equip themselves with skills that can be helpful in improving their economic status. As a result, this has helped them to improve the standards of their education system and the quality of services in healthcare institutions, and changed their lifestyles.

I. Education System

The form of education and the level of education standards in these countries are substandard and below average. Third world countries have low levels of education that is why students are forced to move to developed countries in order to access affordable and better education opportunities. This is one of the reasons why the poor continue lingering in the vicious cycle of poverty. Education in the slums is of low quality, and, therefore, gives students very few chances of joining universities, and other higher education institutions. Ghettos or slums are formed through rural urban migration as people move into urban areas in search of employment opportunities. They congregate in cheap housing areas where resources are scarce and social amenities lacking. The habitants in the slums tend to stay together in groups causing congestion and at the same time they raise huge families. They end up living in poor condition and competing for the few resources and social amenities available to large population segments.

In developing countries where there is ethnic diversity there are tribal conflicts that lead to wars and displacement of people in their own country. Conflict may also arise out of polarized political influences as those in power seek to hold on to their post through ethnical divisions of their voters. The results are that conflicts that may lead to populations being displaced within their own country. Slums can also result from unaffordable cost of living that characterizes the developing economies forcing people to scale down on their spending ending up in cheaper inhabitable housing. Ghetto has affordable things, although they are of low quality. People find themselves migrating to ghettos just to be able to live up to standard (Bolgia 12).Third world countries have a history of political conflicts that affects citizens and, as a result, disrupts the nations’ economic activities. In most cases, students are forced to drop out of schools until the violence stops. This has also created discrimination in schools, in which students from different background are treated differently.

In the past years, education standards in developing countries were much lower than those of developed countries. However, education standards in developing economies today are improving to catch up with the standards of the developed economies. Certainly, the quality of education in some third world countries is impressive enough to rival institutions in developed countries (Schwartz, Paul, & Merle 22). Experiencing financial difficulties, some of these countries have worked extra hard despite economic challenges in order to ensure that their institutions have enough facilities to provide standard education. However, it is not easy, and they need assistance from wealthier countries so as to improve their standard.

II. Financial Stability

One of the major problems facing these countries is the lack of enough capital for investments. In adequate resources for investments purposes has been a major recurrent issue in developing economies and a source of low rates of economic growth slowing development. For instance, health care sector has been neglected due to lack of funds, and, therefore, affects the standards of the services provided in medical institutions. Health care management and problems retaining the poverty has been a burning issue for the past years. This means that health and poverty are closely related. Health care is so far one of the problematic aspects in all the developing economies. Affordable health care for the population however is not an issue facing the developing economies alone, developed countries such as the USA are also yet to eradicating this problem. According to the 2009 USA census, more than 49 million of US residents had no access to affordable health care. In the developing economies however, affordable health care are complicated by sub-standard Institutions and inadequate services. In addition the facilities have poor patient conditions and there is rampant mismanagement of funds. This has resulted into too many deaths and, therefore, has slowed down economic growth in developing countries.

Slums are also associated with unhygienic environment, thus, it leads to the transmission of diseases, especially in those areas where garbage is dumped. Besides, poverty is closely related to high birth rate, which is due to lack of education on family planning and negligence. Most countries in Africa have suffered from poverty and other calamities because of unsustainable population increases. Families have too many children who they even cannot afford to feed, not to mention to educate. Population growths rates that far outstrip increases in levels of food production have lead to calamities in developing economies. Thus, beside lack of proper medical services the populations in developing countries also faces nutrition challenges. This therefore plays a role in stunting the growth in these economies since for development a health skilled population is required (Webb 23).  

III. Lifestyle

Lifestyle is more of a culture than one’s race or background. Culture refers to the pattern that is practiced by individuals over and over again. It is transferred from generation to generation, and it eventually becomes their way of life. Culture is manifested through the people’s language, customs, literature, religion, and art. Ghetto is a section in the society where live people with financial difficulties or a low standard lifestyle (Webb 24). The term ghetto was first introduced in Venice and was used to define the section settled by the Jews. It is the section where the Jewish people were enslaved and kept away from the rest of society. The term ghetto was adopted from a Venetian word “ghetto” that means “slag”. Ghetto is also used to refer to the poverty-stricken areas, especially in urban centers. Nowadays, ghetto is just a home of people with low wage, where food, shelter, and clothes are so cheap that they are affordable to everyone.

To some extent, ghetto is known as the place of all types of crimes, such as robbery, and prostitution. Economic growth in the ghetto is very low, since the government does not invest in these areas, which is why people have no jobs. The infrastructure is also poor, which leads to poor growth of its sections. However, ghettos have risen from poor lifestyle through the determination of the new generation. Musician, athletes and other respected in the society people are brought up in ghettos. This is influenced by the need to improve the society status, and to help the people who are helpless.

Industrialization is one of the factors that differentiate a third world country from a developed country. Industrialization is the growth and development of industries that enhance economic growth. Hence, it has led to development of urban centre, since people were migrating to areas where job opportunities were. The world is changing at an alarming rate due to new discoveries, which have been made over the years. These were not possible before. As scientists continue to discover and invent new equipment, the world is adapting and incorporating them in the societies. As a result, the world is heavily dependent on inventions and machines. Moreover, because of the advanced technology, people are becoming more intelligent and hence they become able to carry out more researches of their own, as well as to make their own new inventions (Wenger, Dermott & William 22). And poverty has slowed advancement of technology in third world countries due to lack of resources.

Thus, the lifestyle in the ghetto and the method used for improving its economic standard was investigated in this paper. 

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