Category Archives: How to Help the Poor

Why should you help the poor? Why should you care?

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Why should we help the poor you might ask? Isn’t the government doing that for me, don’t they take care of everyone’s problems? Let me ask you, do you think the government is? Are there less people today that are poor than there were 50 years ago? I can say with a resounding “no,” our poverty rate today is about 16% and 1965 it was about 14%. Why have we failed the poor? I personally think it is for a combination of reasons: 1) We are enabling the “capable poor” by providing them with free money, i.e. incentives to not work 2) We are not meeting the poor where they are, i.e. why are they poor? What is the main issue that is making them poor and how can we help 3) We consistently throw money at the problem.

What can we do as citizens? Well again, personally I believe it was never the government’s job to babysit and take care of people as it does. By doing this the government restricts our freedom when they play a “Papa role” (but I won’t get into that right now). I believe it was our job as human beings to help each other, I believe it was our charity that should sustain the poor (however, our charity seems to have faltered in the last few decades). I believe if we regained our respect and responsibility for one another there would be less poor because instead of throwing money at them, we would be helping them were they are. But probably that will never happen again, not in this country, at least not for a long time. In the meantime, we can still do what we can to help and not enable.

How can we help? There are after school volunteer programs for children who needing a helping hand, someone to talk to, and help with their homework, which will allow for them to make better choices in life. It will allow for these children to break the cycle of poverty, understanding and getting the help early on to change the course and direction of their future to live a productive life. There are also programs that non profits run that are looking for donations of clothes, furniture, food, cars, etc. There are hundreds of programs apart from the government that need our support, which really do meet the poor where they are and help rather than hinder.

Another question you might ask is why should we help the poor in other countries? Don’t we have enough problems here? Yes perhaps, we do have many problems here. But tell me this: do our children live in gutters, on streets, do they shine shoes, are they forced to become a part of militant armies, are they starving to death? Oh, perhaps you might be able to find children here and there that this is happening to here. The difference in the United States is that when this is discovered we are outraged and we arrest the people responsible or put the children in safe homes (or at least as safe as we believe them to be). While, I may believe our stance to poverty is incorrect, I do believe that in most respects we do care. Whereas in other countries people do not care for one another, either because they have no capacity to care or they too impoverished themselves to spare very much help to others.

So again, why should we care about the poor in other countries? Tell me: If you were so impoverished you could barely feed yourself or your children and you lived in an unsafe area (yet there were no safe areas to move to even if you could afford it), and your child was kidnapped and sold as a slave. Wouldn’t you want to move heaven and earth to find your child? Or what if your child was starving. Wouldn’t you want the food that would be the simple solution to your child’s problem? Wouldn’t you do anything for your child? What if you couldn’t? What if there was no help? Yet you knew there were people in other parts of the world living in luxury with a car, food in their house, medical care, and even a house to sleep in. Would you not feel sad and hurt that no one would help you, when a few dollars would literally spare their life? Yet we flippantly go to Starbucks everyday, with not a thought to the thousands, the millions that cannot even afford a loaf of bread? We scoff at the poor in other countries, thinking, “surely it is their fault.” Really? We have sunk so low that we think that since we were born into luxury that we are superior to those that were born to poverty and have no way out. No fancy education that could save them, no food stamps that could feed them, and certainly no soup kitchen down the street. There is literally no way out that could save them, no government program, NOTHING. We were born to luxury whether we believe that or not; just because you do not have as much as a Hollywood celebrity does not mean you in any way are poor. You or I could have been born to a different situation in life, one that meant poverty and starvation, and you better hope that someone would have been so kind to offer you help when we are ourselves offer so little help when we have so much. With great power comes great responsibility. And we have the power to help. And one day we will be held responsible for our lack of care or charity.

Sources:
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/jul/29/bill-oreilly/bill-oreilly-says-poverty-hasnt-budged-1965-despit/; http://www.npr.org/2012/08/04/158141728/how-americas-losing-the-war-on-poverty

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Compassion International Sponsorship Program: A Review

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Compassion International is a Christian charity organization that allows the public to sponsor a child in poverty, in a foreign country.  Compassion allows you to pick your child to sponsor.  You can pick your child by region, longest waiting child, oldest child, youngest child, country, etc.  The cost to you is $38 monthly, which you can pay by check or credit card.  You also have the convenience of having the $38 withdrawn from your credit card or bank account automatically each monthly, so you child never misses the much needed assistance he or she needs.

Let’s see what Compassion’s website states:

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

Founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training.

Today, Compassion helps more than 1.2 million children in 26 countries.

What specific benefits will the child I sponsor receive?

The child you sponsor through Compassion will receive opportunities and services that most of the world’s poorest children will simply never see. These opportunities and services include the following:

  • The opportunity to receive an education:In some cases, this means providing the cost of school fees, clothing and supplies. In other cases, it means providing tutoring, help with homework, encouragement and, if necessary, participation in a literacy program outside the classroom. Your Compassion sponsorship will allow one special child to stay in school longer if formal schooling is an option and get the most out of his or her education.
  • The opportunity to be healthy:The health of the child you sponsor will be monitored and care will be provided as needed. Children are taught about hygiene and how to maintain personal health. In addition, and according to their needs, many Compassion children receive supplementary food.
  • The opportunity to develop self-confidence and social skills:The child you support will be part of a church-based program where Christian adults offer love, guidance, personal attention, guided recreation and safety.
  • The opportunity to hear the gospel and learn about Jesus:Most important, your Compassion sponsorship provides the child you sponsor with regular Bible training and encouragement through a local church committed to Christ and the children in its community.

What does charitynavigator.org say about Compassion?

Score (out of 70) Rating
FYE 06/2012
Overall 65.35 4 stars
  Financial 63.43 4 stars
  Accountability & Transparency 70.00 4 stars

Income Statement     (FYE 06/2012)

REVENUE
Contributions
   Contributions, Gifts & Grants $595,760,176
   Federated Campaigns $322,829
   Membership Dues $0
   Fundraising Events $0
   Related Organizations $0
   Government Grants $0
Total Contributions $596,083,005
   Program Service Revenue $0
Total Primary Revenue $596,083,005
   Other Revenue $2,715,435
TOTAL REVENUE $598,798,440
EXPENSES
   Program Expenses $493,290,589
   Administrative Expenses $39,276,737
   Fundraising Expenses $52,527,975
TOTAL FUNCTIONAL EXPENSES $585,095,301
Payments to Affiliates $0
Excess (or Deficit) for the year $13,703,139
Net Assets $185,636,455

My opinion: Normally I might not give my opinion on an organization (but simply state facts and information about and organization), but since I sponsor a child through Compassion, I have first hand experience.  I absolutely stand by this organization and know and believe that they do great things.  I get monthly newsletter’s about my child.  One month I received a picture that my child had drawn, prayer requests from my child, an update on a basic doctor’s visit as well as improvement that needed to be made, etc.  I can write to my child anytime that I would like to and send stickers, etc.  At any time, I can donate extra money specifically for my child or specifically for her family and 100% of that specific donation will go to her, not administration costs.  Compassion International actually encourages you to take a trip to visit your child at any time.  I pleased that the child I sponsor is growing up in an environment through the child development center and church she goes to, (which is paid by my sponsorship) in which she is taught that she is special and loved by God.  That while she may not be taught it at home, through the program she is taught the love of Christ.

For those that are not Christians, you might ask “why is this organization important when the teaching of Christ is not important to me?”  To be specific, there are very few charity organizations, despite what they say, that more that 80% of donations go to the actual cause and less than 20% go to administration costs. Compassion is also listed on CharityNavigator’s list of 10 Charities with the Most Consecutive 4-Star Ratings.  Compassion offers their full financial report online to view, which is often something charities despite being law to make this available, make it difficult to locate.  Secondly, Compassion focuses on the core problems and solutions that other secular organizations attempt to fund, which includes medical care, education, and irradiation of poverty.  Yes, the Gospel is taught to these children.  But I would think that to those that are not Christian, you would rather these children grow up feeling and knowing they are loved despite it not being with the specific religious philosophy you agree with.  Or another way to look at it is, these children might have their survival needs met as well as medical care and education, but not their emotional needs and feelings of self worth.  One day when these children phase out of the charity because of age, without being taught that God is always with them and will always love them; they be stuck back at square one again.  Remember these children are undervalued, underprivileged, often abused, and do not grow up in a society where they are told they are worth something.  Therefore, the Gospel, whether you agree with it being taught or not provides the emotional support and sense of self worth these children need when they no longer have the support of a charity organization to fund them.