Combining our riches
I love FFHC because it embodies hope and is life-affirming. It looks at the gifts, resources, and abilities God has given each of us, recognizing he has afforded us each unique circumstances and talents to serve others and serve him, and FFHC uses those gifts to promote the well-being of his children and the world.
When I started volunteering with FFHC I learned so much about the history of charity between the U.S. and other developing countries, including much of what has been done wrong despite the best intentions of well-meaning people. There have been far too many times (and I’m guilty of this as well) where we as a society have given money or done work (digging a ditch or building a school or a well) for people in the developing world, where we truly want to help and believe we are helping, but actually undermine development and keep people mired in poverty because we don’t acknowledge and help them use the strengths they have. Instead, we come in and do things for them, which sends the message that they are unable to improve their own situation and “do for themselves.”
It is interesting how when you ask materially-poor people to define poverty, they use terms like “worthless, unable to contribute, and not valued.” Rather than describing the things they lack, they describe the impact poverty has on them as human beings—on their deep sense of self. When people from America come in to “rescue” the materially-poor by giving them things or doing things for them that they are able to do themselves, this serves to reinforce their feelings of inferiority, worthlessness, and inadequacy to contribute to the fabric of life in their community. Yes, there are definitely times when giving provisions is right and necessary, like in the case of when a natural disaster hits. However, when this type of “relief” is given as part of day to day regular life and not just in an immediate crisis, it stifles development and chokes the cultivation of ideas, work, and creativity. It reinforces to the materially poor that we agree, you are unable to contribute and you don’t have much value to offer.
Most of the time we should not be using “relief,” but instead need to partner with the materially poor to help them recognize and build on the resources and strengths God has given to them. Americans are not the experts coming in to fix the materially poor; our role is to encourage our African brothers and sisters in discovering for themselves the rich talents and gifts God has blessed them with and be able to apply those gifts to grow their communities.
I love FFHC because it truly embraces this philosophy and clings to promoting peoples’ dignity because the organization believes our role is to help individual, families, and communities in rural Tanzania be all that God designed and intended them to be.
In America, we are often materially-wealthy, but struggle more with spiritual and relational poverty. While in much of Africa, there is material poverty, but they have often rich relationships and profound spirituality. FFHC recognizes that there are different types of riches and poverty and only through coming and working together can we help increase our overall wealth and decrease our total poverty.
Combining all of our riches exponentially promotes what we have and vastly diminishes what we lack and I think this is what God intends for us to do. It glorifies him when we come together to love one another and advance his beautiful kingdom by combining and being good stewards of our talents and resources. FFHC’s paid Tanzanian staff and the volunteer U.S. staff are committed to loving one another and demonstrating our love to God through our service to the materially poor in rural Tanzania.
I am very blessed and incredibly grateful to be part of this wonderful organization that is helping to make profound positive change in the lives of many in Tanzania and beyond. FFHC is important to me because of the wonderful volunteers and staff whom I’ve come to really love as family and because of the great work they are doing to help end poverty.