Camden: Day 1; Night 2

I’m in Camden and it’s certainly quite the place. I drove past drug dealers, prostitutes, and a myriad of boarded up homes as we took a two-hour drive through all parts of the city. The odd thing was that I didn’t find myself particularly uncomfortable. This can probably be attributed to my various encounters with poverty and destitution, but honestly, I think the image of depravity we were confronted with taught me more about how far removed my life is from this issue instead. I think there’s a certain degree of obligation I have to my faith to physically change how removed my life is, but when it comes to awareness and education on the subject (which should eventually lead to action), that’s where the majority of my convictions lie.

Jim gave us a “tour” of the area, and described the context and history of what the city used to be in comparison to how it is now. Turns out the area was once a place of prestige and commerce – somewhere around 30 years ago and earlier. However, and he didn’t expand on this very much, in the past few decades Camden has gradually turned into a desolate place, void of its once apparent success. Now, it’s become subject to government manipulation where the public still have a voice, but don’t know how to use it due to lack of education.

Surprising fact of the day: Children in the city of Camden have a better chance of being incarcerated than they do of graduating high school.

Over 50% of the population is under 21 as well, which really makes things interesting. Though Urban Promise is doing some work in helping to educate and raise these children, there seems to be little effort on anyone else’s part to start a much needed reformation. The city has tried to bring in sites of tourism and entertainment in the hopes of establishing a currently non-existent middle class, but it’s not very effective. This is most likely due to the state choosing to dump unwanted facilities on the city, such as a prison on the valued waterfront, and a sewage system in subsidized neighborhoods and parks. The government leaders agree to these establishment deals because the state offers millions of dollars to them in order to do so – except that doesn’t change anything, because the city is still bankrupt, and has been for many years.

In closing thoughts so that this post is not too expansive, I’d like to say that my theology of poverty, as well as my views of how to live justly as a person of affluence in a poor world, is continuing to extrapolate and sharpen. Seeing more of the world’s hurt, especially outside of a context I normally view it in, is giving me further clarity for life outside of college; and it’s also providing personal insight for how to effectively live out the Kingdom on earth.

My greatest praise, though: That I still have the ability to see God as a benevolent and loving being despite the chronic and deathly hardships of life.

He is good. And He resides in Camden. This I am sure.

My humble abode. It's a little less than the size of a dorm room, but contains much less. At least there is heat.

Here is part of Urban Promise's campus. The church looking building is actually their elementary and middle school.

Boats the children have built. Crazy, huh? It's an afterschool program established about a year and a half ago. They float and everything. The school is donating them to a maritime museum nearby. The construction room is chalk full of articles by local papers congradulating these children.

A local park. It's next to the sewage treatment plant, which gives off an abysmal smell. In this side of the city there is a high number of children with respiratory problems.

Subsidized housing.

 

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~ by Chris Kyle on December 10, 2010.

2 Responses to “Camden: Day 1; Night 2”

  1. Day 1 with Jim. Jim is like the male relative I never had but always wanted. Where are you guys staying at exactly? Have you seen Jesus Castro yet? Tell him last year’s team says hi. Have you been to Cherry Hill yet? Make sure you hit that as well 🙂

  2. look at your fancy photo blog.

    love your heart.

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