Sunday, September 19, 2010

When the Poor Aren't Poor Anymore

So what do you do when the poor aren’t poor anymore? This may sound like a funny question, but seriously...most people in non-profit work are really good at relief type work. We are good at giving money, collecting supplies, giving out food, handing out medicine, and moving on to the next needy person without a meal. What is the next step though? What do you do with people who aren’t in danger of missing the next meal, but still live in awful conditions with little money or chance of making much more. In my situation what do you do with orphans that are well feed, well clothed, have good shelter, and are going to school, but who will one day have to make it without food, clothes, and shelter from Angel House. What do you do when the orphans are better clothed and in some ways better off than many in our community, even though you know they may not always be? What do you do with people who are no longer poor, but only because of what you are able to give them?

Now don’t get me wrong our kids still don’t have the “stuff” that compose so many American’s standard of living, and some of our younger kids still hoard food because they remember how awful it was being hungry. However it has been a long time since one of our kids missed a meal and they certainly don’t consider themselves poor. Many of our older children have dreams of their futures which is something many other children in our area don’t have. If there is one thing poverty takes from someone it is hope for a future with opportunity. So what do you do?

That is a question those of us who work at Angel House are asking and hopefully have some good thoughts on. We can continue to provide for basic needs until we die and there will still be poor people. Actually based on research done in developing countries by organizations really good at giving a LOT of money and resources poverty can sometimes increase... just ask the World Bank. With that in mind we have a vision of relationships that allow dreaming to happen with the people we are helping so that they can give input and make decisions about what is really needed after the stomach is satisfied. We hope that these ministries done with people can bring needed resources to the whole community and allow the bar to be raised for the economy, but more importantly the spirit and dignity of people. We have a hope for our children to become leaders in their communities so that our children who have learned how to dream can pass these dreams onto others. I think it comes across the best as a goal of “transforming people so that they can transform their culture.”

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