Poverty: The Shadow Side of Germany’s Apparent Prosperity
The abyss of poverty is not a fictitious reality, but a grim fate that takes place in the midst of supposed prosperity. Many people are excluded from the possibility of living a life of dignity, as an adequate energy supply remains out of reach for them.
Poverty in wealthy Germany. In this exclusive guest post, Vera Sompon, an experienced social educator and founder of Sompon Socialservices Baden-Württemberg e.V., reveals the story of a family in Germany caught in a desperate situation.
Poverty – a harsh reality
“Poverty plays a central role in our daily work”, says Vera Sompon. “Our clients are dependent on outside help, as language barriers and the inability to find regular work severely limit their options. Poverty becomes a harsh reality for many people, even though they live in the midst of a society of abundance.”
In February of this year, she met the S. family, whose story shook us to the core and left us helpless. A young couple with three children – and a fourth on the way – were desperate for support and told of their ordeal. The S. family was gripped by a crushing debt burden that has come to dominate their entire lives. The rent and electricity debts have piled up to over 18,000 euros.
A life without electricity
Such a frightening sum would not let anyone sleep peacefully. Such an enormous mountain of debt makes it impossible to properly raise the young children or lead an orderly family life. As a result of the financial straits and the inability to cover the rent and utilities, the family’s electricity was cut off. Imagine living without hot water and heating in the winter! Who today can even imagine what it is like to exist without electricity?
The electricity provider refuses to allow the family to pay off their electricity debt in installments. The job center refuses to grant a loan on the grounds that the family has not made sufficient efforts to pay in installments. This is a clear case of failure to provide assistance and structural discrimination against those in need. Vera Sompon is personally involved in this matter and tries to mediate between her clients and the authorities. This is not an easy task to solve alone. Nelson Mandela already said: “Poverty and racism are not natural phenomena, they are man-made and can only be eliminated by man.”
Solidarity is called for
The effects of poverty, unemployment and a lack of prospects are not just individual fates, but also have a significant impact on society as a whole. Today’s global reality is characterized by a multitude of challenges ranging from economic turbulence to social inequalities and political conflicts.
In such times of uncertainty and instability, seemingly stable living conditions can suddenly falter. It is therefore crucial to foster empathy and solidarity. Instead of looking down on or stigmatizing others, we should realize that any of us could be in a similar situation. By supporting each other, creating an inclusive society, and distributing resources equitably, we can minimize the effects of poverty and lack of prospects.
Vera Sompon has already taken an important step by founding her non-profit association Sompon Socialservices Baden-Württemberg e.V.. She supports people with a migration background. In addition to her work as managing director of the association, she is involved in various organizations and works as a lecturer at the Esslingen University of Education.
Sompon has also published as a co-author on the topic of discrimination-critical social work and education. She is an advocate for equal opportunities and social justice and is a recognized expert in her field. In 2015/2016 and 2017/2018, the dedicated social educator was awarded the “Award for African Diaspora Living Legen” as one of the 100 most influential African women in Germany for her great work in society.
C&C Autorin aus Göppingen
Vera Sompon ist eine ausgebildete Sozialarbeiterin und Sozialpädagogin mit Schwerpunkt auf rassismuskritischer und muttersprachlicher Sozialarbeit. Sie ist die Gründerin des Sompon Socialservices Baden-Württemberg e.V., einem anerkannten, eingetragenen und gemeinnützigen Verein. Er wurde 2009 gegründet, um Menschen mit einer Migrationsbiografie in Baden-Württemberg kulturelle Bildung und soziale Unterstützung anzubieten.