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It’s 2018. Why is poverty still a major challenge? Why are third world countries still struggling? Every year, kind-hearted people box up old clothes and donate money to send to these countries, but we’re not seeing results.
Poverty, Inc., a documentary by Michael Miller and Mark Weber that has received 30 film festival honors and won 11 awards, attempts to address this problem.
According to the documentary, the reason we are not seeing results is, because emergency disaster relief has become a permanent model. The documentary suggests that it might be time to stop sending clothes, money and shoes to third world countries.
According to Huffington Post, the East African Community made up of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burandi, and Rwanda, have proposed to ban all imported used clothing by 2019.
According to the same article, (Goldberg, 2016), the clothes that are being donated are being resold for extremely low prices such as in the Gikomba Market, located in East Africa. The article said that jeans can retail for as low as $1.50 at the market, which is between five to 10 percent of a new clothing item made in Kenya.
Movie stars, presidents, pastors, non-profit institutions, and just regular people push to send more items to developing countries. But it may not encourage new economies if goods are handed over for free. It was pointed out in the Poverty, Inc. film that these countries don’t need fish handed to them; they need to be taught how to grow a fish economy.
I agree. We can’t keep treating these countries like they are in a permanent state of disaster. They shouldn’t be treated as the beggars under the global table, when they deserve a seat at the table.
These countries are rich in natural resources that can make a profit. Africa holds approximately 30 percent of the world’s natural resources. It is rich with diamonds, gold, nickel, titanium, oil and gas (Aljazeera.com). Haiti’s natural resources include bauxite, copper, calcium, carbonite, gold and marble (Haitigeo).
As a society, we need to rediscover the true meaning of charity. Charity isn’t only about writing checks or sending over a box of used clothing to Africa or Haiti. According to Weber, co-filmmaker of Poverty, Inc., the Latin root word of charity is “caritas,” meaning love. 1 Corinthians states: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”
We must stop letting those we help become faceless and nameless. Real love is more than writing a check. Real love is about getting more involved than just a one-time visit. We really should look at how to love others by being a servant. And how we can love others by washing their feet and by serving them just as Jesus did in the New Testament. We need to love others by forming relationships with them.
When deciding what organization to give to, individuals must first assess how the organization spends their funds. Are they just buying items and sending them over to these countries? Or are they cultivating people’s God-given talents so that they can get out of poverty?
One such organization that is channeling charity in a new way is BeadforLife. This nonprofit teaches women how to make beads from recycled paper. These beads are then made into jewelry and sold in the United States and Europe. Mary Ogwang, a bead maker with BeadforLife, earned enough money for her family to buy a brick house and a TV (Forbes).
In short, the present charity model is not working. We can’t just write a check and call it love. As Weber said, “You can’t love a charity. You can only love people.” So, how can you help those in poverty? By not letting them develop a reliance on donations and realizing that everyone is made
in God’s image. The people in developing countries will be capable of being self-sufficient if only they are given a chance.
Poverty, Inc. can be found on Netflix, Amazon Video, and Google Play Movies.