“A sound anti-poverty strategy must include: self-sufficiency through work, implementing policies to encourage job creation, improving access to quality education, and taking steps to restore a culture of marriage. Combining these efforts will help create a society where more individuals have the opportunity to succeed and flourish.”
Possibly one of the greatest problems facing faith-based NGOs is sustainability, not only of our organization and our efforts, but even more so, of our results.
Typically, the most loyal supporters of humanitarian organizations like Food for the Hungry (FH) have a incredibly generous track record in regards to charitable work, faithfully giving of time and resources wherever and whenever a pressing need arises. In fact, we could never adequately express our appreciation for all those who respond to the many urgent crises that arise in poverty-stricken countries around the world.
However, if all that we do is limited to responding to emergency situations, it is not likely that we would see sustainable results – results that extend beyond the immediate need and that impact the peoples and communities that we serve – far beyond the horizon of this day.
There is great personal satisfaction when we can feed a hungry community, or clothe and shelter a displaced family, or provide medical assistance for a remote village. Everyone in the process feels blessed, from financial supporters to the workers with the mud on their boots and, in particular, the recipients of our generosity. We all recognize this, so we would urge you to think of what our participation can also be doing beyond the horizon.
Poverty stricken areas, whether in major urban centers or in distant, isolated areas of the globe, have various issues in common. They are often habitual centers of loneliness, despair and hopelessness. When children are orphaned or uneducated, and adults are without the means to feed their families, and where the hardships of life far outweigh the pleasures – if pleasure is known at all – meeting their needs for sustainability can foster the kind of stability that we envision beyond the horizon.
Abject poverty is like a vacuum that must be filled by charity and love, or it will attract things that are much the opposite. In western culture we often live by the axiom that we should not bite the hand that feeds us. The irony is that no one has to teach that to a mother or father who can other feed their children once a day, if at all. Far be it for them to even think of biting that hand. Rather, they will weep with relief and love the person attached to that hand.
Food for the Hungry donors help us inspire hope in people like this.
In that context, acts of charity and compassion can be opportunities to build bridges to hopeful futures. That’s why FH believes in supplying transformational education to developing countries. One example is the after-school program called AMO (Apacienta Mis Ovejas or Feed My Lambs in English).
Using AMO educational materials in places like the Dominican Republic, we create an environment for sustainability by teaching children good decision-making, and biblical principles of self-governance, stewardship and service, in the spirit of Luke 2:52 and John 21:15. At the core of AMO, “Feed” means to nourish the inner man with spiritual food; to provide hope and good expectation; to delight; to cherish; to supply the eyes with beauty; to guard and protect; to tend with gentle care; and to lead to good pasture for sustained growth.
By responding to their immediate needs and educating families and even entire communities to learn how to grow crops, create commerce and become interdependent, we can build sustainable cultures that will prosper well beyond the horizon. Our persistent efforts at FH can transform chaos into order and panic into peace. This is the vision that we have and this is the vision we wish to share with you. It goes far beyond the horizon of here and now.