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There is this assumption that because you have no children, you must have lots of money lying around

By Nina Steele 

Childless people and moneyA relative of mine tried to get hold of me the other day. He rang a total of 8 times. I didn’t answer because I knew what it would be about. It is the start of the school year in the Ivory Coast too and so I knew that I would be getting calls asking me to help with school fees. I don’t know why these people keep calling, since the likelihood of me sending them money is zero.

It’s part of the African culture to expect those who have made it to help those who haven’t. The only problem is that, unless you play tough, you will end up as broke as them. Not only that, how will these people ever learn the value of money if you allow them to continue to live in ways that contribute to their poverty.

The majority of the people who often call me asking for money have large families even though they can barely feed them. Whenever that fact is brought to their attention, they act surprised that you even bring the issue up. It never occurs to them that having a large family when you are already poor will make you poorer.

And then there is the assumption these people have that because my husband and I have no children, we must have lots of money lying around. Few understand the concept of having savings for rainy days and planning for old age. They assume that everyone is as careless with money as they are.

Recently, I have chosen not to answer calls that have the Ivory Coast dialling code, unless it is from someone I actually want to speak to. I ring my mother on a regular basis and so I know it won’t be her. Also, my youngest brother and I keep in touch on Facebook.

Because of the high level of poverty, the African culture has always been very money orientated. And of course it makes sense. What I have an issue with however, is the poor choices many of these people make, as opposed to addressing the issues that are causing them to stay poor. Yes the lack of opportunities is the main contributing factor, but personal choices are also to blame. Instead of making changes to improve their lives, many of these people keep doing the same things, expecting different results.

Through the years, I have known a fair number of people originally from the developing world, now living in the UK, who have got themselves into debt by helping relatives they shouldn’t be helping. For example, how on earth can you justify helping people who are poor, yet own expensive mobile phones? One of the hot topics on a popular Ivorian Facebook page in recent weeks has been about the latest iphone, which currently retails in the UK for over a thousand pounds. How on earth is that even an option for people who can barely feed themselves?

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