Wednesday, 22 October 2014


“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” - Mahatma Gandhi

For this week, Poetry Jam enjoins its readers to write about “a toy or game you liked in your childhood”. Almost all readers of this blog will have a wealth of happy childhood memories where many hours were spent in carefree play. It is important to remember, however, that there are still children in the world who live and die in poverty.

Of the estimated 2.2 billion children worldwide, about a billion, or every second child, live in poverty. Of the 1.9 billion children in developing nations, 640 million are without adequate shelter; 400 million are without access to safe water; 270 million have no access to health services. In 2003, 10.6 million children died before reaching the age of five, which is equivalent to the total child population of France, Germany, Greece, and Italy. 1.4 million die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation while 2.2 million die each year due to lack of immunisations...

Our Favourite Toys

A hard life, where every day is a struggle,
Where putting bread on the table is hard labour,
Where drinking water is never taken for granted:
A life that cheats death every day.

A hard existence, where everyone works
To eke out a living, and children grow up early,
To till the barren soil, trying to raise a meagre crop:
A life that gives pleasures rarely.

A poor man’s lot, where bitter food is eaten greedily,
Where hunger never goes away completely, and disease kills,
Where most children never get a chance to grow up:
A life of want gratefully stopped short.

Our favourite toys:
A ball of rags kicked stealthily, in between chores;
Worn plastic containers, no good for reuse,
Make toy houses, cars and drums to beat:
In secret, while we steal a few moments to play.

Sticks, pebbles, twigs – and if you’re lucky –
An old bicycle wheel, to make of them whatever
Your boundless imagination desires,
Rubbish transformed into wondrous things;
And most precious of all:
Your little sister a living doll to care for…

If you are able to, please donate some money to ease poverty in some part of the world so children are able to live, and perhaps play:

UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund. UNICEF’s vision is of a world where the basic rights of every child will be met.

CARE Australia is an Australian charity and international humanitarian aid organisation fighting global poverty, with a special focus on empowering women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities.

World Vision is a worldwide community development organisation that provides short-term and long-term assistance to 100 million people worldwide (including 2.4 million children).


  1. Very good to remember these things. When working among the very poor in Africa one thing I did notice was that children seemed to find ways to play even in deepest poverty and people find things to celebrate and be happy about in amazing circumstances. However your point is well taken. I like your suggestions to donate. Just finished a large effort this past weekend to raise funds to fight hunger and I do hope it will have an impact.

  2. good on you for raising is not fair...and often dictated by where we are born...or born into....and its rough...spent a lot of time working in impoverished neighborhoods...have done some things through world vision...sponsored kids...and events...

  3. Yes, Nick, I think your poem is an important one. We do need to remember that there are children in many parts of the world, including each country, who live in poverty & do not have toys and games to play with. Each of us can spare a little to help a bit. You have given us all a good reminder.

  4. I agree with the others. You have written a poem that is both very good and deep. My credit card has a Care logo on it. Every time I use it, some money goes to Care (France).

  5. a life that cheats death everyday ought be endowed with strength, will and imagination and we can be instrumental in giving them light, shade and life...

  6. This is so sad, Nicholas, and you set it out so brutally, that the reader is overwhelmed by the plight of such children who make their own toys and steal time in order to play with them. The last two lines got me and I saw the significance of the two children in the photo... Donating is such a good idea for us who can do it.

  7. This is so true and our inhumanity to each other is perhaps the greatest sin, not to value the creation in each of us. Great powerful write.

  8. It is hard for our children sometimes to realize that they can play without the store-bought toys, and some I would wager, don't have a clue how to play unless it is electronic. It is also difficult for them to realize that their childhood is much longer than other cultures allow.
    I have sponsored children for many years, sending clothing, mostly, but food and playthings, also, and maybe a bit of hope.

  9. Amazing poem, hits the nail on the head...

  10. Beautiful poem, poignant and sad, but very true...