From hopelessness to opportunity...That's why I volunteer
When asked the question, “Why do you volunteer with Food For His Children”, I had to sit back and reflect as to why I initially started.
It’s been about 5 years that I’ve been volunteering with FFHC, and in all honesty, I started volunteering because my then-fiancé, now-wife got me involved and my friends Rob and Kerrie were the founders. So I thought, sure, why not. Which begs the question, “Why do I continue to volunteer?” Same reasons. I chuckle, but seriously—I continue to volunteer with FFHC because after traveling to Tanzania for 4 years and meeting with the recipients and future recipients in the program, there’s a longing in me to continue building relationships and continuing to encourage my Tanzanian friends to help escape the deep, deep hole of hopelessness.
I have, and continue to volunteer with many organizations, but none of them are like FFHC.
I’ve helped hurricane survivors rebuild, I’ve helped with water projects, I’ve helped Nahuatl people (Mexico) construct homes and introduce the love of Christ (ok—this one is similar to FFHC)—but with FFHC, it’s not about giving something or building something or doing something and then leaving; the developmental principles of FFHC really impact the people. Some may question “but you give them a goat”; okay-sure, we give them a goat; but not as a gift and not without education on how to make that goat turn into much more and not without a long-term commitment to the program. In impoverished situations, one has to start somewhere; and by working with locals like Joseph and Marusu, the hybrid dairy goat was deemed an appropriate animal to foster long term sustenance—not as food, but as a source of income, nutrition and personal, emotional healing.
Each time I return to Tanzania, I see many people and hear many stories. After following many of the participants over the years, I see the huge impact that this program has on the lives of those participating. It’s not a demeaning program. Aside from the pass-on and pass-back criteria, FFHC staff and volunteers are there for guidance and encouragement. They pour out encouragement on new ideas that participants have like starting a business or building a better home, or even saving money—a concept that is very new to materially poor people.
Seeing the positive changes in each family and what they have done and how far they have come is encouraging to me. When I meet with new recipients to the program, there is this look of futility and dread in their eyes. As time progresses and their involvement continues, empowerment sets in and those eyes now show excitement—tears of happiness—and so much life that wasn’t there before. Final answer—that is why I continue to volunteer with FFHC.