Written by: Giselle Webber
I had never really put much thought into poverty alleviation. Whenever I gave some of my time or money to a charity or organization, I always assumed that my gifts were helpful — often thinking little about how my money or time would be used. Looking back, I can see how I could have dedicated more time to studying what causes poverty and what it means to be materially poor.
Throughout my summer internship with Edify, I had the incredible opportunity to delve into the complexities of poverty alleviation. Guided by thought-provoking books such as Generous Justice by Timothy Keller and When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett, I gained invaluable insights on making a meaningful impact when approaching poverty. I invite you to join me as I reflect on my unique experience and share the lessons I’ve learned.
Embracing a Biblical Mandate for Justice
Reading Generous Justice opened my eyes to the biblical foundation for pursuing justice and compassionately serving people experiencing poverty. I discovered that poverty alleviation is not merely an act of charity but a matter of justice. It has become clear that God’s heart is deeply concerned for the marginalized and oppressed. I have realized that my work with Edify was not just a job, but a calling to fulfill a divine mandate to love and serve others.
Generous Justice also challenged me to examine the many blessings I have been given and to consider leveraging them to benefit others. I have learned that poverty alleviation is not about giving handouts, but transforming the hearts and mindsets of all involved. This internship has been a journey of personal growth as I confront my biases, assumptions, and misconceptions about poverty. By cultivating a spirit of generosity, justice, and humility, I know I will become better equipped to serve those around me with compassion and empathy.
Shifting Perspectives on Poverty
When Helping Hurts gave me a paradigm shift in how I view poverty and its alleviation. I realized the importance of moving beyond a charity-focused approach to empowering individuals and communities. Instead of perpetuating dependency, I want to adopt an asset-based mindset, recognizing the strengths and resources within communities themselves. This shift in perspective has allowed me to see poverty as a multifaceted issue that requires holistic solutions, such as addressing material needs and their underlying spiritual, social, and psychological aspects.
The Power of Relationships
One of the most profound lessons from these books was the significance of building authentic relationships. When Helping Hurts emphasized the value of listening to and learning from those experiencing poverty rather than assuming we have all the answers. We can make a difference by developing genuine connections and understanding the unique contexts and aspirations of the communities we work with. Building trust and fostering long-term relationships are integral to Edify’s approach, ensuring that the organization’s efforts are sustainable and empowering.
Empowerment and Sustainable Interventions
Through my internship at Edify, I have witnessed the impact of empowerment firsthand. Equipping individuals and communities with the necessary tools, skills, and resources enables them to become agents of change in their own lives. This aligns with the principles outlined in When Helping Hurts, emphasizing capacity-building and the promotion of self-sufficiency. I am inspired to see how education, combined with a Christ-centered approach, can empower children and their communities, leading to sustainable changes.
Putting it Together
Edify’s approach to education as a tool for renewal has deeply inspired me. Partnering with school proprietors globally, Edify fosters hope, resilience, and purpose in communities, empowering them to break the cycle of poverty and become catalysts for change. Education proves to be a powerful force in shaping destinies and transforming nations. My summer internship with Edify has been eye-opening, teaching me valuable lessons about poverty alleviation as a multifaceted endeavor that requires justice, compassion, empowerment, and sustainable solutions. My perspective on addressing poverty has been heavily influenced through the guidance of Generous Justice and When Helping Hurts. I am excited to carry these insights into my future endeavors and actively contribute to the cause of poverty alleviation.