I know it seems so “loving” to do such a great “deed,” but the ONE thing we all need to do to serve the poor is to help them lift themselves out of poverty, and the main way we do this is through jobs. We must help locals sustain the jobs they have and help them create more jobs for the community.
This is vital, necessary, and important.
Everybody everywhere wants to work; we all need dignity, and no one truly wants “handouts,” if at all possible.
So, what’s the solution?
Instead of boxing up shoes, toothbrushes, and shirts and paying to ship them, just bring money, go down to the local market in the country you’re serving in, and buy EVERYTHING possible from the local vendors.
If you do this, you will be adding so much value to the country that you’re serving:
- You’re helping the local economy grow.
- You’re connecting with local culture, and you’re becoming a natural friend to them as you help grow their business and invest in their community.
- You will have a better reputation from the local government and key leaders because your team will bring in much needed funds that will help expand the local economy.
- When you buy from a local vendor, that person can afford then to care for their own family, instead of relying on outside aid or handouts.
- And those in need will still get some of the basic needs that will help them.
This way is more holistic, thoughtful, and empowering.
Sometimes, the simple way- collecting free things in America, and taking them overseas- is not the best way. I’ve made that mistake many times. The more I go, the more I know. Which means I can apply that knowledge and wisdom and learn how to “go” better, be more thoughtful, and find ways that will encourage and empower the locals, which is why I’m going in the first place, and I hope that’s why you’re going, too.
So please, do yourself a HUGE favor; do not bring “freebies” with you on your next mission trip. If you’re a leader of a trip, don’t allow your team to bring “freebies” either. Instead, teach them the power of being holistic, thoughtful, and wise.