Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself

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Few days ago, I was reading a book “When Helping Hurts;  How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself” by Brain Fikkert and Steve Corbett. I thought it would be good if I wrote down some piece of writing.  This writing however has nothing to do with what the author says in the book. This is in regard to the development workers that we see in our communities, particularly in I/NGOs. I think we all need to see this from scratch.

I know a couple of friends in the West who help in third world countries for the development projects in order to alleviate poverty, to empower the people in the poor communities  , to improve their economy or in different fields as well. What I want to highlight is that we workers here have failed to realize the empathy, emotions and heart bits of those who render us the task into our hands.  As I am writing this note, I ask myself this question, “How honest have I been in my work?”  Have I been genuine on how I am spending/allocating the resources that old mama had donated for the poor people? I think God is aware of it and we cannot hide the fact. How do we utilize the gift which some people have donated out of their heart? They go to the extent of sacrificing their food, doing overtime work that they would have something to share with others.

A couple of years ago, I was working in a school in New Delhi. This is what the school principal told me when she visited Australia. She met one of the ladies in the church who used to sweep the church floor every Sunday morning. One fine morning, she came and asked the principal if she could share with her about the school in Delhi. Her tears was rolling down as she was listening to the principal and, with a delightful heart she prayed along with the principal. She used to earn the very minimum that was just enough for her survival. However she had saved $50 to donate for the school work. In fact that $50 was not easy to earn. She had to clean dishes, clean the floor, and sacrifice her comfort zone and all. Nevertheless, she put complete trust in God and in us that her donations will go to the right place and to the right people.

What makes me wonder is that we people (may) have missed the mark and, even try to brag and struggle to adjust to a low level life-style while we work for marginalized groups and needy communities? Staff facilities, therefore just turn out to be a snare that causes us to get off the track. People raise funds for us, working day and night, spending their energy and all. But when the funds arrive here, how do we use the funds given by the poor lady in the west?  Perhaps her heart would cry if we used it for our comforts in the name of working for the poor. I heard somewhere that the prosperous lifestyle is only possible because of the poverty of the world. There is a link between prosperity and poverty.  We may argue with these views but fact is fact and it will not be altered by our debates and discussions.

Two days ago, one of the missionary expats came to my house for dinner. After dinner she asked me if I could look onto her bus-ticket and check the departure time of her bus. I was surprised to see that she took a bus which is not at all easy for an overnight journey. She was old enough to take Nepalguj-Kathmandu flights. I think she could have had the money as well. But she liked to travel on the bus. I am just giving an illustration which we may grasp easily. Sometimes, there are options that need to be prioritized by doing things through a conscious heart, rather than a conscious mind alone.


Position: Snr Diaspora Assitant

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