Ending Poverty Together: We’re All Pieces in the Poverty Puzzle

I’ve worked at Food for the Hungry (FH) for nearly 15 years with a passion to end poverty. I’ve seen so much change throughout these years, and yet so much remain the same, as well. For almost 10 of those years, I sat at the front desk working reception. I knew everyone who walked through the door and loved greeting my coworkers each morning. A few years ago, my role changed and I began working in the office mail room.

Traveling to poverty-stricken communities in GuatemalaDuring my time at FH, whether at a desk or processing mail, I didn’t necessarily think I was changing the world. The mundane day-to-day duties and tasks of working in an office didn’t always feel critical to the mission of ending poverty. But recently, I found out how incredibly wrong this line of thinking was.

Earlier this year, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit FH communities in Guatemala. I had never traveled to an area where FH serves before. It had always been a dream for me. We arrived in Guatemala and visited a few different communities. I met local leaders, church leaders, volunteer mothers (of care groups), parents, teachers, and children. In each community, I learned all about the current projects going on, the progress communities have seen so far, and what their goals are. It was wonderful to finally have a front seat to the amazing work happening every day in the areas FH works.

But there were two experiences that really impacted me while I was there.

Doing Your Part to End Poverty

I sat in a community meeting where volunteer mothers were sharing about the work they were doing. They were teaching other mothers in their neighborhoods about the lessons they were receiving from FH staff, whether it was how to grow veggie gardens or the importance of regular health checkups. As they addressed the group, I could clearly see that they had a vision of making their community and neighbors’ lives better through their work. And they were volunteering! I was blown away. Even better, I saw everyone in the room had that same vision.

It reminded me of my own neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona. My husband and I are members of our neighborhood association group. I’ve seen how hard it is to get people to participate in making our small community better. I struggle to get others to come to the meetings. There are many times when I feel like people just don’t care. That perhaps, they just want others to do the work for them. But everyone has their own part to play. Two or three people can’t carry the weight of an entire community. I realized that I have the same vision as these mothers in Guatemala. They have a home, I have a home. They live in a neighborhood they want to make better. I live in a neighborhood I want to make better. But here they were, carrying out this vision with a lot more success, and empowered to own their projects, their solutions, and their goals.

The idea of puzzle pieces started to click in my head…

Beth poses with Guatemalan children

Letters in the Mail

Then I spent some time with the children. I sat down with a girl in a classroom and started to help her write a letter to her sponsor. At first the children were so shy, so I started drawing with them and using Google Translate to talk to them. They started to come out of their shells a bit. I had so much fun spending time with the children. I had always been a bit envious of field staff, knowing they get to interact and work with children every day. But then I thought back to the idea of puzzle pieces and each person being a piece in a bigger puzzle. It was in this moment while helping children write letters to their sponsors that I realized — back at home in the office, I’m doing my part for my piece. I’m the person who physically receives those letters and it’s my job to make sure they get mailed to the sponsors. Without the mail room, this communication would not exist. And this special communication strengthens these relationships, for both sponsors and children.

It was like a lightbulb turned on…and stayed on.

Pieces of a Bigger Poverty Puzzle

I got to see where my piece fits into the bigger poverty puzzle. What I do on a daily basis is work that actually matters in the overall call God has given to FH. That every single one of us, whether in the field, in the office, or as a supporter, are all just doing our one little piece in a big assembly line toward the goal of ending poverty. And everyone needs my piece done for the impact, just as much as we need everyone to do their work. Like the body of Christ, we each need to do our part unto God. Then He will put us all together for His ultimate glory.

Stamping and mailing letters day after day suddenly didn’t seem so trivial anymore.

Child in an FH community in Guatemala

If you’d like to play your part and become a piece of the FH poverty puzzle, click here to support our work today

This story is part of our series “Ending Poverty Together.” It is dedicated to sharing the special and inspiring stories of all those who travel to Food for the Hungry fields, whether they are staff members, supporters, or partners. Follow along as each person shares the impact of their unique experience firsthand.

 

Continue Reading:

Ending Poverty Together: Finding Beauty Amidst the Devastation

A Bridge From the U.S. to Guatemala

Updates from the Field: The Power of Care Groups