In their shoes

Some read to learn, others require first hand experiences.

Going beyond just the community sector, schools and corporate organisations have been signing up to experience what’s it’s like to be poor by enrolling into a simulation where they role play someone less fortunate than they are.

It seems like a drastic measure to learn what it feels like to have constraints outside one’s bubble we call life. However many are jumping on the bandwagon to simulate and get into the shoes of those that are less fortunate.


The roles offered are extreme and cover a range of difficulties such as having to provide for heavy medical existence for their family, looking for a job or getting children into school, just to name a few.


If you thought those scenarios were enough to cover what it’s like to live in ones shoes, you’re mistaken. Role playing those scenarios come with a full range of tribulations. For example, if you have to focus all your attention on earning money to pay and look after your sick wife at the same time neglecting your child, there’ll be consequences. Such as seeing your child falling in with bad company.

Run by non-profit organisation Methodist Welfare Services (MWS), the exercise compresses a month’s worth of activities and responsibilities into a few hours, which church worker Mary Chai said adds to the tension when it comes to making decisions. She said going through the exercise helped her break stereotypes and biases about the less fortunate.

“A lot of times, we do not realise that their priorities are different from us – how they make their choices. They may be pressured by certain constraints that we don’t really face. So given (that they) have to make choices under pressure, they will react in certain ways” said Ms Chai.

It isn’t a new concept to experience first hand what it’s like to step out of your comfort zone and into someone else’s situation. There have been many volunteer projects and expeditions where students have gone overseas to build schools and live among locals to learn of the plight in developing nations.


Would you need an entire course and simulation to know how it feels like to be poor?

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