Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/05/03

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Subject: [Leica] Education and a decent jobs are the best way to get people out of the dump, not birth control.
From: "Birkey, Duane" <>
Date: Wed, 3 May 2000 13:51:01 -0500

Without getting into this much further...

Living in Ecuador, and having spent time in the Quito dump.... I can tell
you that there is no quick, easy solution to the problem. People live and
work in the dump for lots of reasons. Birth control is touted as a solution
to poverty and hunger by several prominent organizations who think they know
better. No kids, no poverty.  Unfortunately the poorer one is, the more
likely they are to want to have kids since children are seen as a source of
income either now or when one is to old to earn a living.  Ask a person in
the dump about their retirement plan???

If one looks at U.S. history in farming regions going back a couple of
generations, one will remember that it was common place to have 5 or 6 kids,
We had a neighbor who had 12...  This is rather rare these days.  Good
grief, what would it cost to send 12 kids through College???  (or to get
this on-topic, buy an M-6 for each one for graduation : )  )
In Ecuador, amoung rural communities with little income, people have large
families, those in the city with better income generally now have only 2,
Why???  Because they realize it costs money to have children, to send them
to school, buy clothes etc...  They want to spend money on a new car or TV
or a nicer house and a vacation at Disney World.   Poor families see kids
sort of like cows, the more you have, the more milk you get and the more
money you earn. The only way poor families survive in Ecuador is by pooling
family resources and that includes the kids shining shoes or begging out in
the streets. Kids whose parents have decent jobs go smoke cigarettes at the
mall or get involved in after school activities.   

Tina's project avoids a lot of the difficult social problems of people who
live in and around the dump by concentrating on the children.  Hopefully
breaking the cycle by giving them an education which will allow them to one
day leave the dump and other problems.  If it were just about teaching
photography to people in the dump, this project would be a waste of time, (I
wrote a post on the lug saying so before I bothered to check it out...and I
feel still stupid for doing so.)   But it's not. It's really a program to
get kids into school and keep them there.  

Education leads to economic developement which leads to population control.
Not the other way around.


Duane's Photographs of Ecuador