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Friday, November 28, 2008

Can You Really Say It's The Same?

Since becoming a child sponsor and advocate for Compassion International I have become more educated and aware of the various needs in other parts of the world and try to educate others of those needs as well.

One thing I often hear from people is that "we have poor here in our own backyard, here in America." I won't argue, we do. I grew up poor, I know what it is like to go to bed hungry. But can you really, honestly compare poor here in America to poor in let's say Haiti, only 500 miles from here? Can you really?

At this point most people will still argue that it is the same and we "should be helping our own" I agree, we should first help those in our own homes and families, then spread out into our communities and out into the world. I don't like to place borders though on who my neighbor is. And again, do you really think poor in America is the same as poor in Haiti? Before you answer, watch this slide show; Mercy & Sharing Foundation

Did you watch it? Can you still say it is the same?

Do we have the corpses of children stacked like logs awaiting burial? Are there abandoned babies and children dying daily in our streets? See, here in America we have "Haves and Have-Nots" and hopefully we have some Haves helping our our Have-Nots. Haiti on the other hand is a land of Have-Nots, who's going to help them?

Here in America we have food stamp programs, food pantries and other social service or faith based and governmental programs available. I admit even with these in place we still have hungry children and homelessness, but can you really say it is the same?

Here in America ALL children have the right to a free and appropriate public education and with that education the chance to work their way out of their poverty. Is it easy? No it's not, is it possible? Certainly! Do children in Haiti have that same opportunity?

It's not just Haiti, there are places all over our globe in great need. I use Haiti as a comparison as it is so near to us here in America, 500 short miles, and suffers this great poverty that is almost beyond comprehension.

There is much you can do, help raise awareness, raise money or sponsor a child through an organization such as Compassion International. Most importantly do something, anything to end poverty in America and throughout the world. No child should have to go to bed hungry only to awaken to another day of more hunger and suffering.


Andrea said...

Wonderful post, Tara.

No, it's not the same here, certainly not even on the same scale. But if I look at Compassion's Poverty Wheel - And I consider the economic, health, environmental, social, educational and spiritual aspects of poverty and look at them individually, there IS a certain level of *desperate* poverty here - especially spiritual poverty. Sadly, some of the American church is responsible for this due to their judgmentalism and divisivness.

But of course, this has absolutely no comparison to places like Haiti or the Republic of the Congo.

But if I am going to reach the desperately poor and help them where they are at, I need to care for my immediate neighbors as well. Their "spiritual poverty" cannot be dismissed simply because they live here.

There are some churches who have focused so much on the 3rd world, they ignore their own community. Or some churches hold pot-lucks - only to feed their own congregations, not their neighbors. My own church is a center of our community here with a heart for the world - but they have yet to partner up with Compassion to make this an "easy" thing for the congregation to do.

What I love about Compassion is that it helps families keep a balance. It's "easy" to help a child through sponsorship. And it does not take away from the time you can invest into your own local community.

I guess I had more to say about this than I thought.

Tara B. said...

Andrea, I agree, Mother Teresa used to often say that the poverty here in America was much worse than the poverty in the rest of the world, as ours was a spiritual poverty, to not feel loved was the greatest poverty of all.

Also agree 100% about some churches playing a role because of their judging, etc...

My DH loved your comment about potlucks. I personally know far too many churches like that. So many have become so self-serving.

I just feel like so many have such a small view of the world, they really have no vision beyond North America. That's one thing I love about Sonlight, it really has broadened our World View.

I agree though that so many people become so focused on the suffering of the third world that their eyes are closed to the needs right around them. Mother Teresa also used to say to love those in far a way places is easy, but to love those you live with is much more difficult, she adivsed us to first love those we live with, then our neighbor, than those in the community, and so on....

I guess it's about balance really, but no one can do anything if they aren't made aware of the needs of others and who it is who is in need. I am reminded of a story in a LArry Jones book I was reading, and he told how a church collected a bunch of holiday items for the poor in their community, they had all sorts of stuff, only one small problem; now that they had all of this stuff, nobody in the whole church knew who the poor were! They didn't know any poor people!!

So, I guess that was my point in the origianl post and this response, you can't help those you don't know, you can't help if you don't know what the needs of others are, whether in your own backyard, or in places like Haiti.

Andrea said...

Methodists are famous for their pot-lucks. I know - I was one for 20+ years. Now that I am in a church that feeds the community, I am embarassed by what I thought a "church function" should look like as a Methodist. (As you know, I'm a recent Lutheran convert.)

I often forget that my worldview comes a lot from our homeschool and the forums. I am often surprised by other's unawareness of the world around them. I forget that I'm the one who is "unusual". How sad is that?

compassiondave said...

All we need do is point folks to Acts 1:8 and explain how Jesus has mandated all of us to be witnesses at home, to the ends of the earth, and everywhere in between. The passage really shows us what a well-balanced servant should look like.

Red said...

When Oprah built that school in Africa, it was a wonderful day for many girls. And I heard all over the place, "Well, why didn't she build one right here in her own backyard?"

You want to know why? Because people would not appreciate it and they would expect it from her. That is not the same. Those girls over in Africa will do whatever it takes to get themselves educated.

There are those who feel the only way to acquire something is by holding out your hand and letting the government do for you. Those kids over in Africa work hard, many here hardly work.

We are, for the most part a lazy nation. That is not to say we all sit on our duffs, but there is a large amount that do and expect us taxpayers to support their habit. And yes accepting government help can easily become a habit and a way of life.

I was on government help when my second child was born and I can see how easy it is to fall in that trap. But that is not what I want to teach my children. They need to be taught a work ethic, and many a people have no idea what that means.

I loved this post, once again you hit the nail on the head Tara!!!

Andrea said...

Re: Oprah's school. I seem to recall that Oprah actually DID start a school here and it was a failure for just the reason's RED expressed.

That's why she opened a school in Africa.

William Cooney said...

Terrific thread. . . When I get to thinking about the impoverished in the world, I can't help but wonder if it isnt the economic/political order of things that is at the root of the problem.

Perhaps we were not meant to go to the moon, build particle colliders or possess such amazing computing power for another 500 or 1,000 years. A more moderate growth rate would surely mean a much more deliberate pace of technological development, but if the upside is little or no poverty in the world. . .?

But, we are where we are, and I commend the efforts of people like yourselves who sense a duty to their less fortunate fellow human beings.

Joanne said...

I'm sponsoring a child simply by switching brands on the things I already buy. It feels really good to touch the life of a real child. Email me if you want to know more.

appleleaf said...

What you're saying is absolutely true. The distribution of the world's resources is appalling, for which organisations like "Compassion" are like beacons.
On the subject of general poverty in western countries, I know what you mean there too, about being skint for Christmas.
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Meredith's Memoir said...


My name is Meredith Dunn and I work for Compassion International. I came across your post this morning and was so moved by your writing. I just wanted to say for myself and on behlaf of Compassion, thank you for all that you do.

It is because of sponsors and advoctes like you that the message and ministry of Compassion is spreading and that children are continuing to be sponsored. We are truly grateful for your help and support. You are an answer to our prayers.

Blessings to you,
Meredith Dunn