Poor urban women have been drying out urine soaked diapers and reusing them. Diapers aren’t something you can buy with food stamps and many other assistance programs, and so these desperate moms are doing the only thing they can; they reuse diapers.
I had a discussion about this with a friend of mine. She couldn’t understand why these mothers didn’t just use cloth diapers. She had used cloth on her own children. Through the eyes of a suburban or rural mother, this option seems very simple. I told her that most moms in large urban areas are not fortunate enough to own a washer and dryer. She countered back that they could wash out the diapers in a washtub and line dry them. She hadn’t had a dryer, and she managed just fine. I reminded her that many of these women live in apartments that have no outdoor area in which they can line dry clothing. Well they surely must launder their clothing SOMEWHERE! So why can’t they take the cloth diapers to the public laundry facilities? After double-checking with my urban dwelling son and his wife, I informed her that if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford living in a building that has a laundry, most leases specify that you may NOT wash soiled diapers. The public Laundromats employ attendants that make customers adhere to strict rules about washing those items. If the mothers live in a home or building that does have a back yard or area to hang laundry, items such as cloth diapers are routinely stolen from the lines, either to be sold or used by other desperate families with babies. And so the diaper drives and donations by diaper manufacturers continue.
It is so incredibly easy for otherwise kind, reasonable people to judge others simply by viewing the problems of others through their own eyes. It is so easy to say that there should be mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients. Stereotyping aside, it sounds logical. But what happens if someone fails that test? Are they then left to die on the streets? What about the children who may be depending on them for food? Would there be accessible treatment available? Or do we just consider them to be human trash, their deaths a burden lifted from society?
I have always remembered a quote from To Kill a Mockingbird. In it, Atticus Finch tells his daughter; “If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…. Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”