Americans with disabilities help send children in extreme poverty to school

In many cases, the only thing standing between children born into extreme poverty and their education is a simple set of school supplies. It’s not that poor communities don’t have school supplies; rather, they might cost the equivalent of one or two days’ work, and in that case, it’s easy to see why the poorest families purchase food instead of pencils and notebooks.

Yet, many schools require students to come fully equipped. No supplies means nothing to write with or on… which means no way to turn in homework … which means no passing grade … which means no advancement in education. And the cycle of poverty continues.

Seeking “to move beyond the notions that the world continues to hold about persons with disabilities,” Elim Christian Services is an Illinois-based organization working to “bring 800 persons with disabilities beyond their potential to become the living testimonies God created them to be.”

These adults are created in the image of the living God and thus have great potential, just the same as children in poverty with no access to school supplies. FH brings the two together in a way that benefits both.

To date, the folks at Elim have hand-assembled 82,272 “Hope Packs” filled with school supplies for children in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Kenya, Mozambique, Peru, the Philippines and Rwanda. Next year, FH will begin shipping the packs to Bolivia as well.

Participants at Elim have ventured to Peru four times in the last few years to deliver Hope Packs and to witness the fruits of their labor.

Don’t hand-outs like this just create dependency?

While some hand-outs can create dependency, our trained field staff — the experts who live and work in these communities year-round — believe school supplies are different. Similar to a tuition scholarship, they bridge a small but crucial gap in the short-term, making the way for long-term improvements in a child’s life.

In many communities around the world, field staff have set up programs to offer Hope Packs in exchange for goods or services. Recipients may volunteer a certain number of hours in a community initiative, or they may pay a nominal fee. This way, there is dignity and ownership in the exchange.

In the next post, we’ll share a video testimony from Elim about how this partnership has impacted adults’ lives here in the States….

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