How to Fight Poverty Half a World Away

With this blog post I am happy to introduce Kevin Miller–a new member of the FH team.  Kevin serves as FH’s web marketing analyst and is one of those really helpful people who gets a lot of things about technology that most of us will never understand! In this blog post Kevin wrestles with engaging issues of poverty across countries and continents. We are delighted to have him join in FH’s mission through his new role. –Eileen O’Gorman

Bangladeshi children in schoolAbject poverty - utterly hopeless and miserable; humiliating; being poor without hope or ability to escape.

Sitting in my warm house on a cold January day, staring at my computer screen in a whole room dedicated to study and learning, I am haunted by that phrase: Abject poverty.

Poverty has little bearing or meaning in my cozy world. It seems distant, cold and clinical, foreign. Abject poverty to me is but a fear, but for large portions of the globe it is a daily struggle.

In America we have all complained of “being poor.” My family has received food stamps and state medical coverage. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck – feeling the fear of losing my house or cars. I’ve struggled with my sense of worth – am I doing the best for my family? But what I have experienced is insignificant compared to the realities of living in a Ugandan village, struggling against the earth and subsisting on what you can hunt or gather or grow.

Small holder farmers, rural people represent the majority of the impoverished. They lack access to basic sanitation and transportation. Things like clean running water, electricity, heating and cooling, and a reliable method to take crops to market, are out of their realm of thought. Disease and crop-destroying pests are more common that laptop computers and internet access.

Limited access to any form of modernization, including roads and healthcare, have proved to be crippling in these lands of drought and famine. Lack of adequate rainfall or too much rain and poor soil fertility have caused production issues for the subsistence farmers. Scarcity of game or restrictions on hunting have made life difficult for the more primitive peoples. We see people trapped between the old world and the new world – unable to escape to the haven of either. How do we engage with and help the hopeless poor? How do we in our Western world fight poverty half a world away? I’d like to outline a few practical things that anyone can do to help.

1. Prayer is the foremost weapon in the Christian arsenal. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16b Great problems require great powers, and what greater power than direct communication with the Creator of all men. I believe that with specific and sustained prayer, our God will hear our cries and will grant us the pleas of our heart.

2. We can get involved with Food for the Hungry which is on the front line fighting poverty. FH’s mission is “To walk with churches, leaders and families in overcoming all forms of human poverty by living in healthy relationship with God and His creation.” Since 1971, Food for the Hungry has been working to develop communities and to help the hopeless.

3. We can sponsor a child. FH is focused on transforming communities by starting with the children. We have projects to provide basic sanitation, healthcare, and education for some of those in the most dire of need. For a small amount each month, you can bring hope and change a child’s life.

4. If committing to a monthly program is outside of your budget, a simple gift from our Gift Catalog can provide a huge benefit. As simple as a pair of Guinea Pigs in Bolivia can provide a valuable source of protein for families. Or you can even give much needed medical supplies, like vitamins to help multiple children.

5. Never forget the power of relationship. Whether through a church program or as a FH volunteer, reach out to someone in need. Read FH’s blog to see about relationships in action – simple friendships can do a world of good. God created us to be social creatures, don’t live life in a box!

Those are just a few simple, yet powerfully effective things that we, in our comfortable Western world, can do to help fight poverty beyond our borders. There might always be the poor, but we can help give hope. If we can take the abject out of abject poverty – then we’re making progress.

About Eileen O'Gorman

Sometimes I think I am incessant middle child. I find myself in the middle of things a lot. Right now, in particular with my work in communication for Food for the Hungry, I find myself in the middle—maybe a bridge builder—between “worlds.” However, what seems like many worlds all occupying one planet, is actually one grand world that God created. I just can’t get a handle on that! Mostly I hope that my work helps bring reconciliation in this world and that, by grace, we can see good things happening – on earth as it is in heaven.

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