Let me open with this statistic, and then you need to promise me that as soon as you read it you will stop before you read on and in your head decide what you think the #1 reason behind this change is. Ok, got it? Read this then stop. Really, stop.
26% of children born in the developing world in 1960 died before their 5th birthday. Today less than 5% die before they turn 5.
Now digest that. Think to yourself and then decide what you believe the reason that things have gotten so dramatically better is. Don’t say its health, or something like that, I want the big answer, the meat behind what caused such a dramatic change. I could use all sorts of other statistics as well, incomes, jobs, education, ect… But this one does a good job of showing the dramatic difference that the developing world has undergone.
Ok. Let me guess what you said. I would bet that most of you guessed it was because of aid, or the efforts of rich countries who have chosen to lend a hand to the poor.
But you would be wrong.
I know, big topic here, and touchy subject for a non-profit who helps orphans in Ethiopia to be talking about. Hold up, and hear me out. I have a lot to say about this, and could go on for a very long time because I am so passionate about this. Solving poverty is a challenge that I believe our generation has the ability to take on, and I intend to do everything in my power to help change the world in this regard.
Back to my point. Why is aid not the answer?
There have been lots of studies, like tons and tons of studies who tried to find correlation between humanitarian giving in a country and the resulting uptick in incomes or productivity for the recipients. And not one study has been able to find a direct link.
Let that settle in for a minute.
Two big questions come up right?
1. What then did make such a huge difference between 1960 and today?
2. Why give?
Let me take these both on at once here.
The first is the most exciting for me to tackle, because it is one that took me more than the first 5 years of living in Ethiopia to fully form inside my head. I wrestled with this for a long time. The answer I believe is this.
Yep, the #1 reason why Ethiopia is finally developing, why the developing world is coming out of poverty, is because the people there have decided for themselves that the time is now to move ahead. Now they have a long way to go, lots needs to happen for a country to get from $400 a year in total income per citizen to where the rest of the world is, but one day, about 30 years ago when the communist government fell, and the people woke up and started to figure out what they wanted to be, they agreed on a goal. Rise out of poverty.
I know, we can say it is all God, and I don’t mean to say all of this as a way of pulling him out of the picture, however I do have to say that he is and always has been there for people, yet at times societies rise up out of poverty and do something great. God didn’t change, or all of a sudden decide that one generation should be better off than another, yet something did change. I want to talk about what changed.
I want to help people, people who have chosen for themselves that its time to rise up. I don’t want to be the one handing money to the homeless guy who is just going to go out and buy more vodka for the night, I want to be strategic, I want to get behind the winning team, and make my resources go to something good that is already happening.
When it comes to places that are making a difference, countries who are on a roll, heading the right direction, I think you would be hard pressed to find one better than Ethiopia. Almost every year out of the past 10 years Ethiopia has been in the top 5 fastest growing economies in the world.
Lots of change all of a sudden, good coming from all ends in a country, and its super exciting, but at the core of it its not us, its not the people who are reaching out to help who made it happen, its the people there, the country who has decided enough is enough and that they are ready for their turn, those are the ones who will rise our of poverty.
Why give? Because it does help, it does make a different, just be strategic about it, give where it counts in a way that counts. That is what Bring Love In is about, helping where it counts, taking the poorest of the poor, orphans and widows, giving them the love and care they need, and building up future leaders so that this incredibly fast moving country keeps moving in the right direction, and so that when it does find itself in a place where it has eliminated poverty (I believe this will happen in our life times) than it has a solid biblical foundation to build on.
Are you with me?!
I absolutely love working in Ethiopia. Both on the Bring Love In side of my job, and all that we get to do here, and also on the business development side with my day job where we create incomes for thousands of people in this awesome country! I love it!