When you read about all the disasters we respond to and the work we do to help those third world countries in the midst of severe poverty, you might wonder if our efforts are just placing Band-Aids on bigger problems. Fully aware that some humanitarian aid organizations fall into that cycle, I want to assure you that Gleaning does everything it does based on a strategy to empower people so they can begin to produce on their own.
A natural or man-made disaster is an abrupt situation where we must respond immediately to care for the people who are affected. In nearly every situation, people impacted by these unexpected disasters were living normal lives when a tragic event turned everything upside down for them – often overwhelming highly productive citizens in the most extreme way imaginable. In those cases, we come along side these families and give them the basic supplies to get back on their feet so they can rebuild. We act fast, effective and with the right solutions to help them through some of the toughest times in their lives. Our practical support gives them hope and the inspiration they need to get back up.
Our work with families impacted by natural and man-made disasters is strategic and efficient. Your partnership is key to our strategy.
So, what about third world countries and families in severe poverty? Does our work encourage or discourage the people to take a step up and out of poverty?
Well, as you may know, there are third world governments that are corrupt – resulting in their people living in impoverished conditions that have existed for generations. Poor education and a lack of quality in their lives create the ongoing poverty. Many of the people literally live from day to day just trying to feed their families. Healthcare is not available in many communities, and if it is, the care is poor by our standards. Education is available, but generations of poverty create a mindset that keeps people from rising above the poverty level.
In addition to third world countries, there is widespread poverty in developed countries too. For example, in the United States more than half of our children are malnourished with little parental support. Drug and alcohol addiction are like rabies in our country. Poor education of parents often leads to poor education of their children… and the beat goes on.
So, when we deal with poverty, inside and outside the US, we do so in a careful and purposeful manner. We don’t just throw money and supplies at the problem. We work with our partners to provide solutions that give people hope to improve their situations.
Here are a couple of examples:
Throughout America there is a movement called The Dream Center. It started in California and is now worldwide. The Dream Center is a location where people living in poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, gangs and other tough situations can go to get treated for addiction, education for a GED, resume assistance, haircuts and new clothes to help them find employment. At the end of the night, there is a Worship Service where all the people receiving care get to know the God that can transform them inside and out. I’ve been to several and when they sing “Amazing Grace,” you can see the deepness of meaning in their faces and hear it in the unity of their voices.
Gleaning For The World supports this movement with food, blankets, and other supplies as needed. Today, there are 350 approved Dream Centers in the United States and more are opening every month. Hundreds of thousands of lives are changed every year because Christian churches care.
These people are not looking for a handout – they are looking for a hand-up and we are there to give them the boost they need to lift themselves into a new life. You can be proud of our work in these centers.
Locally, Gleaning has helped start a movement in our own area using a mobile medical clinic to take medical care and education into our community. We designed the mobile center, helped stock it and we support the efforts to change the lives of children and adults with proper medical care, medications and support. This results in our own local citizens regaining their strength so they can become productive members of our society again.
Gleaning For The World is supporting ministries in the inner cities, Appalachia, Native American Reservations, homeless centers, veteran centers and many locations that are making a difference right here and around the world. We care for the immediate needs so we can change the long-term conditions. Without you partnering with us financially, these lives would never have had a chance to turn their world around.
Internationally, we are making long-term changes in people’s lives as well.
In The Dominican Republic, we worked with a family in Virginia to build new dorms for orphans where they will now receive a good education, training for jobs, medical care and above all else a Christian environment. We recently supported a local hospital with millions of dollars in medications. They agreed to provide health care for the orphanage. We are changing the circumstances so these “throw away children” will have a new vision of life and their future.
We are also working with a local hospital in the sugar cane camps. There are thousands of people from Haiti that travel into The Dominican Republic to cut tens of thousands of acres of sugar cane. In the past, there has been very little medical care and no medical education. We use our Gleaning Mobile Medical Clinics to reach out from the hospitals and offer first class medical care and education. This results in decreasing the mortality rate of mothers and babies by nearly 50%.
In El Salvador, we are working with a Catholic Priest that is simply remarkable. Many of his people are poor without adequate food or jobs. This month we are shipping 15 loads of purged wax from a scented candle company. They will use the wax to make candles and sell them – putting over 100 families to work for more than a year. This contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty.
These are just a few of the ways Gleaning For The World works with people to make long term changes. You can be proud of the work we do together.
Today, I ask you to make a gift to our work. Let’s break the cycle of poverty. Let’s empower people to get back on their feet. Let’s inspire parents to do more for their children.
Some of you can give more than others. Let God guide you. However, do something so that together we can change lives.