Systemic poverty is something I think about a LOT. It's something I talk about with my friends often. When making purchases, I experience buyer's remorse because I think of how that $100+ I spent on running shoes could provide for a family of 4 for a period of months in a developing country. It could even be spent paying the utilities for a struggling family in my city.
I am thankful for the gifts given to me. I don't know why I was born in America and almost by default have secure shelter, indoor plumbing, electricity, healthcare, clean water, food, clothing, and education. I am no more made in the image of God than the other 7billion people on the planet, the vast majority of whom survive on less than $2/day. My intention is not to guilt trip anyone. My intention is to let you into the questions in my head and heart.
I also struggle with the distance I have between myself and the poor. Naturally, my coworkers are of the same socioeconomic status as myself. Nearly all the people in my church are as well (although we are getting more diverse with time, I think). My church gives food monthly to the Atlanta Community food bank. Even then, there is distance. To me, poverty is almost a faceless issue...but I know it's not just an issue or a problem to be solved. Writing a check or collecting canned food is way easier than holding someone's hand, being a friend, and praying with/for them.
These things turn over and over in my brain... Where to start? How do I help?
I read Sarah Bessey's blog regularly. This post lead me to HelpOneNow:
...a collective group of churches, businesses, communities and individuals from around the world. These people are dedicated to using their gifts, talents and resources to help end extreme poverty, care for orphans, rescue slaves and see communities transformed by serving our international partners through Help One Now. They sponsor kids, host garage sales, donate funds, take trips, advocate on our behalf, and much more.My favorite part about this organization is that they are about coming behind the local leaders in Haiti to create long term sustainable restoration through child sponsorship, funding home construction, and digging wells. They are partnering with Haitian leaders in all of this, and employing Haitians to do the work of building homes and digging wells.
You can also watch this video.
The stories from Haiti have been wrecking my heart in the best way possible. I think it might be a good place to start.
Here's a link to the child sponsorship page.