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Hugs, Poverty, Emotional Security

Being in Peru I find myself constantly wondering why this country is so poor. Getting to know some of the poorest families has given me some ideas about the answer to this question. One of the things I have seen recently is that in the poorest families, when a child or adolescent is crying, no one gives any emotional support. Even older sisters don't give their crying younger sisters hugs. In one house of six females I asked who was cried the most. They told me, "Pamela." Pamela is about 10 years old. Then I asked Pamela which sister is most likely to give her a hug when she is crying. She said, "No one." Then I asked her other sisters if this was true and they said yes, no one gives her hugs. They just let her cry alone.

Countries prosper when there are a lot of entrepreneurs starting small businesses. To start your own business you have to take risks. But if you feel insecure, you are less likely to take risks. When you were left there to cry alone as a child, you felt abandoned at a time when you needed emotional support the most. This creates a deep sense of emotional insecurity. A hug on the other hand reassures you that someone is there. Someone cares about you. Someone will help you through the painful and difficult times.

I would have to say people in Peru are some of the most insecure people I have met anywhere in the world. And this is definitely one of the poorest countries I have ever been in. So I ask myself, is there some kind of connection?

I am sure there are a lot of reasons why Peru is so poor and why the people here are so insecure. But I suspect that one of the many reasons, or contributing factors, is the lack of hugs which provide emotional support and security.

S. Hein
Chiclayo, Peru
January 6, 2005