Saturday, January 20, 2007

How We Help

Last year I took the Perspectives course, a intro to missions study. It was really good overall, but the week that stuck with me the most was the discussion of dependency. It was not something I had thought of before, but it makes a lot of sense. We, as North Americans, have a very messed up view of poverty. What? You do not have a new car and three televisions? How do you survive? We also tend to throw money at problems to try to solve them.

When you take that combo of issues and mix it with good intentions it can be very detrimental to other areas of the world. We may go into an African village and see them living in huts and feel moved to build something (new housing, etc) for them. But we can not tell them what they need. Nor should we rob them of the opportunity to build their own resources. We should not tell them they are too poor to build their own resources or try to transfer North American culture and values to other areas of the world. Dependency also becomes a problem when villages see a need and reach out a hand immediately to their rich American friends.

Lesson over.

I thought of the topic this morning while I was reading the Boston Globe. There is a great article on the school Oprah built in South Africa on how South African community leaders are angry that she moved in and built what SHE wanted to build and not what the community needs. Great points and nice to see it discussed in a mainstream publication. One of the organizations mentioned in the article is the Firelight Foundation and they mentioned their guide for faith based organizations who feel called to help children in sub-Saharan Africa. How awesome is that? In The Boston Globe?? I haven't read it all yet, but it looks great.

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