“Your Help is Hurting!”
Powerful word from one of the most positive videos I’ve ever watched about helping people trapped in poverty. It’s not our charity they need, but an invitation into the marketplace and the tools to leverage their own creativity and industry that will provide for themselves. This video is only 7:32 minutes long, but it could change your entire view about helping impoverished people around the world.
“People are not the problem; they are the solution.” What a refreshing perspective, and you’ll find on this video a different way of looking at need in the developing world and whether we are actually helping people win their own solutions, or helping with their need only to make us feel better about ourselves. If we understood the power of this message we would be wiser about the money we spend to help.
Many “missions” organizations manipulate our guilt to fund the very kind of projects that perpetuate their poverty rather than provide solutions. Others use people’s desire for cross-cultural experiences to waste exorbitant amounts of money to transport and feed westerners overseas while they do projects, that the people could be empowered to do themselves. I hope you watch this video and realize that handouts only create dependency, where helping people with tools to apply their own skills and create a market for their own goods will have far greater benefit.
I’ve not seen a video that expresses better my heart in trying to help the people were engaged with in Kenya. We haven’t wanted to just send aid money, but more importantly to help create the kind of development that will allow them to develop the skills and opportunities for their own provision. Often I’ve had groups ask if I needed volunteers to go help build some project because they had a group of people wanting a Kenyan experience. I’ve held off groups like that because the people would rather build these things themselves. They need the work and are content to do it. What they cannot afford are the materials. By the time people spend the money to transport 20 people to Kenya and provide for them for two weeks, we could fund multiple projects and let the people there have the skills and satisfaction of meeting their own need.
We’ve been involved in Kenya since 2008, first with a group of good friends near Kitale helping build an orphanage and provide for other medical and educational needs. We also built a petrol station that not only employs locals but more importantly funds the orphanage. In 2014 they came across 120,000 people north of them in Pokot, who had been devastated by a drought and whose needs were greater than their own. They wanted to help so we provided an initial $60,000 so they could bring in water, food, and medical care. We have drilled six wells to get them water and for the past 18 months we have switched to funding development instead of relief. We are now using a 50/50 development model where they provide 50% sweat equity on a given project and we provide 50% of the resources they need for whatever it takes to care for their needs and cultivate a self-sustaining economy. We are looking to put a million dollars there over the next five years to help them jumpstart an economy that will be self-sustaining beyond that. We’ve already received more than half of that and are now eight months into that process.
We are funding four coaches working in that area to help the people create this self-sustaining economy and find simple, readily available solutions to their needs. We also helped fund a grain enterprise with an advance of $14,000. The grain they buy during harvest, bag, and then re-sell later in the year brings in over $80,000 to fund education for our friends near Kitale as well as for the Pokot children. They keep back enough from the sale to buy grain again the following year. So our original $14,000 investment in these people has already provided more than $160,000 to help with these projects and it will continue year after year.
If you want the backstory on our work in this part of Kenya, you can read this blog that gives a short view of God’s work in linking us up with their need, and people there who are ready to help meet it. If you have extra to pass along for the people of West Pokot you can direct it through Lifestream as contributions are tax-deductible in the US. As always, every dollar you send goes to the need in Kenya. We do not (nor do they) take out any administrative or money transfer fees. If you would like to be part of this to support these brothers and sisters and see the gospel grow in this part of Africa, please see our Sharing With the World page at Lifestream. You can either donate with a credit card there, or you can mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1 • Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.