Tag Archives: help

So I’ve Been Thinking About Things (Shelter)

6 Oct

In my previous post I shared a piece I wrote about essential things necessary for survival.  I am by nature a “less-is-more” kind of person.  I want my personal, consumptive impact on the world to be minimal.  My desire is that my interpersonal impact would be something that at least a few people remember and consider helpful.

My previous post talked about both the necessity of food and how our attitudes about food really have a global ripple effect and have global social justice implications.  If we, as products of our particular cultural and political biases, fail to see how our attitudes about food impact others then we are being short-sighted about the importance of this issue as not merely a pragmatic issue of necessity but as a justice issue impacting people in places where access to food is very different than our own.

Today the topic of shelter comes to mind.  Shelter is on the surface a simple matter of having a place to live that protects us from the elements and gives us a location to store our belongings.  But much like food, shelter is not merely a basic necessity for survival, it has deep implications for personal safety, security, and personality development.

Place matters.  Displaced peoples are confronted by a host of insecurities about life in this world that those of us with adequate shelter often take for granted.  Once again, because many of us do not find ourselves in a place of particularly urgent need it is easy to overlook just how many people are displaced from adequate housing.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimates that as of 2013, 21.9 million people have been internally displaced by disasters and another 33.3 million people by armed conflicts (an increase of 16% from 2012) (Source: iMDC).  What do these numbers mean in relation to the issue of shelter?  The impact of these numbers cannot be ignored; they reveal, in clear and convincing ways, the critical importance of adequate, safe shelter as a matter of basic human necessity and basic human equality.

The UN publication, Fact Sheet #21, The Right to Adequate Housing, states, “Children’s health, educational advancement and overall well-being are deeply influenced by the quality of housing in which they live. Lack of adequate housing, forced evictions or homelessness tend to have a profound impact on children due to their specific needs, affecting their growth, development and enjoyment of a whole range of human rights, including the right to education, health and personal security” (Source: UN Fact Sheet #21).

Shelter matters.  The physical, social, and psychological impact of place/location are essential to basic health and well-being.  Lacking this necessity or experiencing high levels of insecurity related to this basic need has dramatic impact on people’s lives, especially the lives of children.  I live simply but am incredibly grateful for the shelter I have and don’t want to live in ways that fail to appreciate and value the reality that having a stable location to call “home” is essential not just for me and those I love, but for every person everywhere.

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