The Right Kind of Help
There are times when direct gifts of aid are the best way to help someone in need, but there are also circumstances where this kind of aid can hurt more than it helps.
When we try to do for people what they can do for themselves, it can be very disempowering, cause dependency, and be counter-productive. It can undermine their dignity of both the giver and the recipient. This doesn't mean we should ignore those in poverty, but we have to be involved in a different way.
Relief, Rehabilitation, and Development
The Chalmers Center explains it this way on their website:
While the symptoms of material poverty – a lack of food, clothing, or shelter – look very similar, different types of poverty actually require very different forms of poverty alleviation.
- Relief - In a situation requiring relief, the materially poor are truly unable to help themselves and need temporary, immediate aid. Relief is only appropriate after a natural or manmade crisis plunges people into a downward spiral, such as after a natural disaster, medical emergency, or personal trauma.
- Rehabilitation - In rehabilitation, people participate in returning their lives to pre-crisis conditions, contributing to improving their own situation.
- Development - In development, people participate in improving their lives beyond what they have seen before, experiencing reconciliation in their four foundational relationships. The materially poor recognize the gifts and abilities God has given them, using those gifts to His glory and to support themselves through work.
What If Everything You Knew About Poverty Was Wrong?
Researcher Kathryn Edin left the ivory tower for the streets of Camden—and turned sociology upside down.
Sociologist William Julius Wilson, one of the nation's foremost chroniclers of inner-city poverty, heralds Edin's work as groundbreaking. "I do research in those neighborhoods, and I found those stories quite revealing," he says. "She uncovered things I hadn't even thought about.