Poverty And Hunger Can End, You In?

  • Posted by Jamie|
  • on June 5th, 2017|

Sometimes it feels like our world is in information overload. It can be tempting to allow ourselves to just settle and to simply accept what we are being told and to think we know something.

But beyond what we see with or own eyes, what do we really know?

Beyond Descartes’, “I think, therefore I am”, can we really know anything? Maybe we just find it comforting as humans to think that we can.

It was on my recent trip to Malawi that I began to question this very idea.

When it came to what I thought I knew about hunger and poverty in developing countries, what I experienced and what I saw with my own eyes was worlds away from the vision I had imagined… the vision we see time and again from charities and not-for-profits here in Australia.

You see, probably like myself, you also had an idea or an image of what poverty and hunger is all about. Maybe it was the image of a starving infant, bloated and crying, who needs ‘just $2 a month’.

Immediately we think, ‘this child needs food, how can I help?’

So we donate, we give our money to a not-for-profit helping bring food to these children.

Or we donate and they will build a school and pay for a child’s education.

Or we donate and they will build a well and provide clean drinking water.

Or donate and we can provide medicine and health aid.

Or donate and we will build homes…. So we donate.

It all made practical sense to me and I wholeheartedly thought this was helping solve poverty and hunger because that is what I knew of poverty and hunger.

We act without thinking about efficacy or the reality of the situation. We choose to reach into our pocket to ‘do our bit’. But what are we doing here? Are we ‘fundraising’ or are we ‘giving’ and creating a change?

Sometimes not just us as individuals, but also companies and even corporations get behind these not-for-profits to show the world they are ‘doing their bit’ and giving back. But that’s the problem. It’s ‘the show’. It all sounds good but how do we know where our $2 is going? Is it making it on to the ground? What about the little kids in the advert? We want to know that the help we are trying to give is really helping!

During my time in Malawi and through my direct experience, I discovered that individual aid drummed up through the emotive advertising we often see these days is only a band aid and a lot of the money we donate not only doesn’t end up where we think it does but soaks up donations for more impactful operations.

In the words of one local I spoke to in one of Malawi’s villages: ‘We don’t just need aid, we want the skills to live a better life. To be able to farm through drought and survive for ourselves.’

In getting to know these people and hearing their stories over the time I spent there, I discovered that poverty is not a single approach situation. It needs a holistic approach.

Most of all, we must change our mindset in believing the people of poverty and hunger are the problem. The people of Malawi are not the problem; they are a vibrant community with the pride and potential to end their own hunger and poverty.

One thing I found staggering, was that whilst visiting the homes of the villages, I heard that people don’t often come and talk with them. They said they come to build a school, a well or to drop aid but rarely do they engage and spend time talking to the community.

To me, that doesn’t seem like an intelligent response to this issue. How can we tackle the problem head on and end world hunger by 2030 without community engagement? Surely, for an approach to be effective here it has to go beyond that? Obviously building schools and digging wells are all good things but if it isn’t immersive and it isn’t inclusive then it won’t be effective in the long term.

I saw on this trip that when we change our own mindset and work within the community and empower people to become agents of change, that is when we begin to build a financially stable future, build independence and end the cycle of hunger for generations to come.

It’s not an overnight solution, but that is the point. There are no quick fixes but there is an effective, proven solution to ending world hunger and poverty.

That solution is ‘microfinance’, where we become partners and investors alongside communities and these amazing humans become the source of power that can end hunger and poverty for themselves and their families.

So this is why I am involved with the Human Kind Project. Because I’ve been on the ground and I’ve seen how they are empowering thousands of people within Malawi to live a life without limits and change not only their own world, but to change the whole world.

During my trip I spent time in an Epicentre called Ligowe, which was one of three in the area that had become self reliant and beaten hunger and poverty. An Epicentre is made up of a number of villages that Human Kind Project’s on the ground partners The Hunger Project is working with. It took a minimum of eight years for Ligowe to achieve self-reliance but now not only are these people living a better quality of life but they are also a reason for others to believe and to change their own mindset around hunger and poverty.

However, ending world hunger in this generation doesn’t just happen. It takes training and on-the-ground effort to create the grassroots support network that makes the Hunger Project so valuable. Working with community leaders, changing people’s mindsets and interrupting negative thinking around what the future can be, is combined with programmes on food security and economic development.

All these things require money and resources but the big difference is that the end result is that these communities will achieve a state of self-reliance. This is the work of the Human Kind Project.

This is not just about the villages within Malawi. This is a message of human leadership and potential. The work that is going on in Malawi is a beacon that shows us how hunger and poverty can end in our world.

To ensure my part I have partnered with The Human Kind Project and The Hunger Project to bring an Epicentre called Nchalo to self reliance. Nchalo is home to 37,483 people spread over 24 villages and The Hunger project has been there for 17 years.

This Epicentre was one of the first in Africa and was only one stage away from self-reliance but funding cuts four years ago have slowed progress. They are only two years away from reaching their goal if they can secure the last amount of financial support required.

For myself, I don’t feel like I’m throwing money at a problem. I’m actually investing in the human potential of real people on the ground that have the willingness to live beyond their circumstances and not only bring change to their immediate loved ones, families and communities, but bring about a generational and worldly impact that will ensure hunger and poverty become a thing of the past.

One immediate effect of this partnership is that we will be able to complete a health clinic so that it includes a birthing centre for the 275 births that occur each month. What that means is that expecting mothers don’t have to risk their lives giving birth in a mud brick home or upon trying to make their way to the nearest birthing centre, which is over 30kms away whilst in labour.

The long-term effect is empowering 37,483 people in being able to live life with the basics we take completely for granted. And for a moment, look at that number and imagine 37,483 faces. Because we must not forget humanity and the reality of what connects us all as humans when reading numbers and facts.

Living our lives in Australia, we know that we can support ourselves and always live a quality of life that is unimaginable for most people in the world. For me, it only feels natural that I should extend my good fortune in living the life I live by helping others.

If you would like to come along on this journey in partnership and in empowering thousands throughout the village of Nchalo over the next two years I ask for you to join with me by investing with me.

Lets do this together and share in a story we can tell of how we beat hunger and poverty in this generation.

 

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