In yesterday’s blog, Sarah Walker shared about her experience traveling to Zambia with our October Vision Trip. Today, she shares how her mindset about development changed during the trip.
So how do we alleviate poverty without being completely ineffective, or worse, actually hurting the poor with this “poverty industry” of misconceived foreign aid? Well, let me tell you about our friends at Seeds of Hope International Partnerships, an organization in Zambia with which Blood:Water partners. Seeds of Hope is local and intimately involved in the communities it serves, many employees having grown up in those same neighborhoods. Because of this, they understand the cultural context for which their solution must be fit – both the needs and the strengths of the people that they serve.
They build long-term relationships within the community and take a holistic multi-faceted approach to development by equipping them with both clean water options and the sanitation knowledge to affect lasting change. They empower families to adopt all the elements of a “healthy home” – clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, agriculture, and vocational skills development, all aimed at increasing their quality of life over the long term. They strategize with the community members and leaders, not for them, to partner in their vision for the community and address the many issues that hold them in a state of poverty.
I have so much admiration for all of these people that I met in Zambia – for “community health promoters” (emboldened community members who advocate for healthy homes and sanitation practices among their friends and neighbors), for Seeds of Hope, for Blood:Water’s partnership, and for all those who are doing development differently – the hard way, but the only way to make a real difference in the long run.
I feel like my eyes have been opened to a paradigm shift in how to see and participate in the alleviation of poverty around the world. I’m so grateful to the friends I met in Africa for teaching me all of these things, and I’ve returned home feeling empowered and excited to stay involved. I hope one day you can also visit one of Blood:Water’s partners in Africa, and maybe meet some of my friends. Just be prepared to have your mindset toward the poor, and how to best love your neighbor, be forever changed. For the better.
Sign up here if you are interested in joining us for a Vision Trip in 2017!