Wednesday, June 10, 1998 Published at 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK
Poor in the USA
In Bayview running water comes from rusting handpumps
The United States is enjoying an economic boom and opinion polls suggest most Americans feel good about themselves and their country. But even with this new feeling of prosperity, some continue to live in conditions of third world poverty.
But in the town of Bayview the only water comes from ancient handpumps, the dirt track that connects it to the nearby interstate is impassable when it rains, and the outdoor toilets frequently overflow and contaminate the shallow wells.
The town's inhabitants are part of a growing underclass of black people in the state said to endure an American form of apartheid.
Diane Austin has lived in Bayview for 11 years. She shares a toilet with six others and bathes in a bucket. The cluttered shack that she lives in has one electrical socket and is a potential death-trap.
Like their homes, people in Bayview, see their lives crumbling around them. But, says Henrietta Collins, another Bayview resident, many feel they are stuck there.
"If I leave, where else could I go?" She says. "If we do go someplace and if they see we're black, they might not want to sell. So we just have to make do with what we have."
While most Americans have been basking in unprecedented prosperity, communities like Bayview have, literally, been left to rot.
Those best able to escape are the young men, and they left long ago. Those left behind - the old, the mothers and the children - have seen their appeals for help ignored.
"The country is no longer in deficit", she says, "and then these people have to wait four or five years for a grant to dig a well. But if they wait four or five years, they won't be around to drink the water: they'll be dead."
The county authorities have begun to build new homes to replace shacks close to Bayview. But the problem of black rural poverty far outstrips resources.
"We haven't been forgotten," says Henrietta Collins, "they know we're here. I guess they just didn't want to help us."
A mile from Bayview are the graves of some of Virginia's slaves and share-croppers. Their great-grandchildren live free, but they cannot find work, they cannot afford decent housing and still they feel like second class citizens.