There are children in the world whose parents cannot provide for them. They live all over the world, but mostly in third-world countries. These children have no access to food, clean water or an education. They have no future and no hope of changing their circumstances. While many people feel that giving aid to these third-world countries is the right and kindhearted thing to do, many others carry on the view that this only intensifies the problem and makes the situation worse.
Numerous organizations from the United Nations to World Food Bank are trying to help the problem. Trillions of dollars are poured into third-world countries from the United States alone. Still, there are people who live in poverty. In his article, "Third World Development: Foreign Aid or Free Trade?," John Majewski, discusses how when you bring food in from another source, the farmer has no one to sell his crop to, and so he is out of a job. Thus, people in third-world countries need the aid more and more. According to Nicholas Crawford, with the United Nations World Food Programme, one of the solutions to poverty is to provide people with an education. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, with Justice Africa, argues that because the people of these countries are powerless, the government spends the aid on wars, rather than food and education.
There is an organization that models a successful way to not only provide for the immediate needs of poor people, but also works to promote change. This organization is called Compassion International. They were established in 1952 by Rev. Everett Swanson. Compassion International is now lead by Dr. Wesley K. Stafford. When Compassion comes into a child's life, the basics are provided for; food, clean water, clothes and shelter. However, they seek to do more than keep these children dependant on the rest of the world. Compassion sets up schools, health clinics, and offers seminars to parents so they can learn how to take care of and provide for their kids. Compassion sets all this up within the community so that eventually, there is a change in the whole community. This tactic changes things from the inside out, going directly to the people rather than going through governments that are unstable. It also creates jobs within the community. Children have better social habits, mothers are educated on health, and fathers are taught how to do things more efficiently. When a child has completed their basic education, they have the possibility of being accepted into a college where they can become anything they desire to be. Many go back to their villages and try to make their communities better, giving back to their communities.
In 2004, there was a food shortage in Tanzania, Africa. Compassion International stepped up to the plate and provided food and shelter for the children in their program, about 10,252 families. These children did not just get food; they also got an education by being involved with Compassion International.
Compassion's Leadership Development Program allows students to go to college and gives them support spiritually and academically. Over 600 students have graduated from college through the program. According to Mike Hinckfoot, the director of the program, about 80 percent of the students that have graduated have gained employment, and 72 percent are employed within six months of graduation. About five percent are sponsoring their siblings to go through the program.
One of the many examples of Compassion's success is Jenifer. She enrolled in a compassion program when she was seven years old. After she completed the primary education program, Jennifer was accepted into college. She is pursuing a medical degree, so that she can help those in her community by providing them with medical care. People, like Jennifer, find hope and strength to break the cycle of their parents.
Another key argument for the people who disagree with aid is that there is no financial accountability. At Compassion International, 83.1 percent of the funds received go to the programs and the remaining 16.9 percent goes to administration expenses and fundraising. Since you cannot have a organization without people to run it, and you cannot get funds without getting the word out that you need funds, it seems like a wise decision to use the money in that way. Compassion sends out annual financial reports, and they also use independent auditors. Compassion has received four stars out of four stars from Charity Navigator seven consecutive times. They are listed in the American Institute of Philanthropy as a top-rated charity. In addition, they were on the list for 30 of the Brightest Shining Light Ministries from MinistyWatch.com, in August 2006.
Compassion has proven over the years that with the right structure you can break the cycle of poverty. They take children who do not have the basic essentials to live in the world and equip them to change the world. Through Compassion International, over one million people have had the opportunity to change their lives for the better. They have proven that a private charity can make a difference in the poverty crisis.
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