Kiefa Ontiri, GAD Kenya and Bud Potter, Go and Do Likewise
Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Illiteracy
“I believe that education is the only tool that can help one get out of poverty, therefor bringing change to the whole world” Kiefa Moseti Ontiri, Director GAD Kenya.
“Education is the key, it is the key to all development to the individual and the nation” Mr. Livingston, Head Teacher Neema Nuru Academy, school supported by Go and Do Likewise.
There’s usually a big difference in the way middle-class American Christians describe poverty. North American audiences tend to emphasize a lack of material things such as food, money, clean water, medicine, housing, etc. While poor people mention having a lack of material things, they typically focus on their sense of shame, inferiority, powerlessness, humiliation, fear, hopelessness, social isolation, and voicelessness.
“Hence, during the 1990s, after decades of very mixed results, the World Bank tried a new approach.”
The authors of When Helping Hurts use this illustration to show that the poor don’t just need handouts of money and material goods (although there is certainly a place for that). They also need relationships with others that will ennoble their lives with dignity and trust. They need compassionate people who will walk beside them in true friendship, respect, honor, and equality.
Adapted from Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts (Moody Publishers, 2012), pp. 49-51
I happen to watch a segment on 60 Minutes on February 2nd, a rerun I understand, on the effort called ‘Kids helping Kids”. A quite emotional piece and compelling for me in a couple of ways. First it reaffirmed the premiss on which we function. That is; the issues of the cycle of poverty and illiteracy transcend survival. They in fact require a deeper commitment and relationship if there is to be change. This seems consistent with what many see as the “Mile wide and inch deep” affect which means there is a lack of any lasting effect of much that has been accepted as acts of humanity in the past.
On the one hand you have the life which looks to survive on a daily basis. Survival is the focus and this focus of life, survival/poverty we speak of as the personality of poverty. Contrast that with a deeper context of relationship wherein an individual or group could be seeing what can be, in any of the poverty indicators, what can be is belief that they can escape, change their future and change life. This we refer to as the personality of potential. One sees what can be and does not accept what is as permanent.
Interesting to me while I watched the “60 Minutes” piece was the generational difference in enthusiasm and what I can only describe as fearlessness. Try as I might I can not seem to find the ingredient that will allow me to define these attributes, these two traits other than societal generational differences. Our children really do have an enthusiasm and acceptance of risk which is not hampered by our ‘more mature experiences of the secular society. The result, according to the piece and those who lead this movement seems to be; this generation of young people really think they can change the world.
Could it be that we too need to allow for a change in our personality. “Kids Helping Kids” sees immediate needs as important but education and personal involvement which brings hope as the catalyst of personality change for both the recipients and the providers. The short of it is, the kids taking part in helping are impacted as much or more than the kids being helped. This was demonstrated in the CBS news “60 Minutes” piece by the building of a class room. Included was the testimony of both the Kenyan youth and the American youth as to their experience. Is it an extreme to think then that we, pre-millenials of a few generations, might find in our selves a new potential, at least of thought, that we can be world changers too. If not total changers maybe just a little less self serving. OK accept my apology if you see me was judgmental. As I am approaching 72 I am “pre-mosteverything” generational. See my thoughts on “Shooting Arrows at the moon” in an earlier blog post.
The second compelling circumstance has to do with the means and level of financing such an effort as “Kids Helping Kids”; piggybanks, bake sales, car washes seemed to be indicative, most significantly for me was the total enthusiasm and ‘childlikeness’ of such on the part of the youth (these were middle schoolers). This also included their determination to raise the funds to support their cause or project. I am sure the swell of popularity of the idea has garnered some larger support corporate or otherwise, and yes, their entertainment might well have still been augmented by mom and dad. Never the less raising the funds to do the projects was an urgency on the part of the participants. They not only were part of raising the money they also went and “put their hands to the plow” so to speak. They invested in their belief that they could make a difference. I congratulate “kids Helping Kids”, I am sure the learning curve has had it’s challenges and more will come, but “world Changers” will not be easily deterred.