Poverty simulation camps are the latest cool pastime of uber rich…

Strange things keep happening in 0.1% camp. Their holidays are usually in most exotic of places. They keep trying and discovering fancier and fancier of places to impress on their neighbors and friends.

Now, it seems the latest pastime is to live like poor. There are poverty simulation camps being conducted for the same:

Tiela Chalmers, an accomplished lawyer, went to her first “poverty simulation” workshop kit when she was working for a group that helped domestic violence victims. Assigned an identity — married grandmother raising two grandkids — she was directed to navigate a series of challenges that actual poor people face, such as trying to live on a budget (frequently $300 to $400 a month in such simulations), scraping together money for utilities and children’s eyeglasses, and dealing with health issues without losing hours at work (and income).

She quickly found the logistics overwhelming. “I just could not make ends meet and the kids’ needs came last,” she said, adding she could see why it would lead to alcohol abuse. “Part of what struck me was that there was no relief.”

Now the CEO and general counsel for the Alameda County Bar Association and Volunteer Legal Services Corporation, Chalmers often runs such simulations for other lawyers and professionals. What was done with little attention in the past has become a small cottage industry, as the privileged try to understand at least a bit of what the poor and refugees face. The World Economic Forum annual January meeting, where the business and political elite gather in Davos, has held a refugee simulation for the last eight years.

Advocates say the goal is to encourage the affluent to use their time, money and influence to help find solutions. But critics point to a darker side, where participants can become what you might call misery tourists, collecting experiences and assuaging discomfort by having now done their part. The Singapore Island Country Club, for instance, was recently criticized when it planned a poverty simulation for its club members; it costs $21,000 a year to belong to the club. Some people accused the club of “trying to humiliate the poor” and called the undertaking an “exercise in futility.” The organizers postponed the event.

Not sure how should one react to such camps..


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