Global Village in US Teaches People about Worldwide Poverty

This man is stealing wood from a hut so he can cook food in his urban slum.

“Survival does that to people--just thinking of basic needs,” explains Mirran Raphaely. She is the head of Dr. Hauschka, a skin care company in the U.S. eastern state of Massachusetts. She is originally from South Africa. Mirran and other managers are staying overnight in the global village where they are playing the roles of people who live in a Zambian hut, a Guatemalan house and urban shacks in Zimbabwe.

Some of the participants are “pregnant” and will give birth before morning. They are wearing a white apron containing a balloon filled with water.

Tony Graves is a father who never thought he’d be a pregnant mother, and says it’s not easy, particularly in the developing world. “Especially when you’re trying to pick up wood and bend over and do things,” Graves said.

Some groups have more food and water than others. The people in the urban slum only have a cup of rice, while the Guatemalans have a vegetable garden.

All three groups must barter to get what they need. The people in the urban slums have little to barter with, so they offer to provide entertainment in exchange for food.

When nightfall comes, Mirran, as a pregnant woman in the Zambian hut, realizes she has a problem after her baby is born. “We really need milk for the baby. No milk--no survival,” she says. Everyone knows they will not have a comfortable place to sleep or enough nutritious food.

The following morning several people say their experience gave them food for thought. “The extremity of what it might be like to live in conditions kind of like this but without any kind of hope,” Geoffrey Rice said. He is director of Creative Services.

“Realizing how incredibly resourceful you have to be to survive when you don’t have a lot,” said Vicki Baum-Hommes . She is director of Human Resources.

“I got a clear sense of the abundance that I truly have.” added Jill Price Marshall, the Public Relations Manager.

And the good news for Tony is that his baby is alive and well. “The whole group took care of him,” Graves said. “He never left our site and he’s doing good this morning.”

Participants in the group say they realized because of the difficulties people in this position face, it is important to have support from the community.