Our work at Food for the Hungry (FH) is about the eradication of extreme poverty. All forms of it.
So if that’s what we say we are called to do, what is the one question you should be asking us to determine whether we’re doing a good job?
I’ll tell you.
Are you working yourselves out of a job?
There it is. Unlike many organizations, our field of faith-inspired poverty fighting is one we sincerely hope works itself out of business. And if you don’t think we’re serious about that, let me tell you about a thing we call “graduating communities”.
Always Plan to Leave
You see, when FH seeks to begin work in a community, a couple of things need to happen first. From the very beginning, we need to make sure we are invited. We talk with communities and their leaders and share with them what we’re about. That we desire to walk alongside them through a process that will lead to their self-sufficiency and sustainable ability to thrive.
Once the community asks us for help, we begin mapping out a plan. The community identifies the needs and potential solutions while also taking inventory of the different resources at their disposal. Then we contribute by bringing technical knowledge and best practices, rounding out the community development plan with feasible targets, expected interventions and commitments of various types of support.
But always… ALWAYS… at the end of the community development plan is a date. That date is the proof that we’re serious about eradicating poverty. Every community development plan includes a proposed “graduation” date. A date where, if the plan goes accordingly, FH will leave. If the community can sustainably meet the physical and spiritual needs of its people, then we say it’s time for a “graduation” celebration!
Graduation and Josh Devine
Want proof? Take the story of Gisanga, Rwanda for example. We recently partnered with One Direction drummer Josh Devine, who sponsors Evaride in Gisanga. Josh and Evaride have had the opportunity to build a meaningful friendship, and Josh is excited about Evaride’s ability to go to school and for his future prospects. But Evaride’s community of Gisanga is slated to graduate this year. While Josh and Evaride have had the beautiful opportunity to form a bond of friendship, everyone understands and appreciates the significance of this milestone for the people of Gisanga. This community is standing on its feet, able to provide a better future for children like Evaride. They are proud to say to FH, “it’s time for you to go, there are other communities that need your help.”
Vision of Eradication
The story of Gisanga is one of many each year that FH has the privilege of supporting. We are very bold in our pursuit of graduating communities from extreme poverty. It’s a missional purpose. It’s not an accident that our vision statement, written in the past tense, points us to the glorious time when Food for the Hungry no longer needs to exist:
God called and we responded until physical and spiritual hungers ended worldwide.
If that’s not a commitment to eradicating poverty, then I don’t know what is. We pledge to serve God and the poor in such a way that we work ourselves out of a job. And we feel very strongly that this is what YOU, our partners and donors, would expect of us.
It’s a strange model. But it’s one we find is both effective and responsible. Globally, there’s a lot of work to do. As we devote ourselves to each community and strive towards their graduation, we accomplish that outcome.
By the grace of God, we are indeed, step by step, working ourselves out of a job.