THE PROBLEM

If we are at all aware of the world around us, then we know that material poverty is a huge issue. I wanted to share a couple stats just to give us perspective. Over 14% of the world’s population lives on less than $2/day, that’s just over 1 billion people. On the other end of the spectrum, if you make at least $30k annually then you make more money than 98% of the world’s population. But what does it mean that people make $2 a day? For these people it means that the threat of starvation is a daily enemy. They really don’t know if they will have enough food to keep them or their families alive. But hunger is just one of many problems that those in extreme poverty face. Another reality is the inability to access education and healthcare. In the majority world, healthcare has to be paid for before you are treated. That means if you don’t have cash then you don’t get medical treatment. People in extreme poverty are also very vulnerable to human trafficking or giving their children up because they can’t care for them. Because of their financial desperation, they may make decisions like sending their children to an orphanage or worse sending them with strangers for a promised “job.” We are talking about billions of people that these facts are their daily reality. I know that statistics like this can be overwhelming, but there really are ways that we can help.


I was going to try to summarize all that HOPE does, but it’s already laid out so nicely on their website so I’ve linked it below. I’ll just say that I love that HOPE doesn’t just give people a handout and wish them good luck. They provide training and discipleship and personal care. Through savings group programs, micro-finance institutions, and small-and-medium enterprise lending, HOPE empowers people to provide for themselves and teaches them about Christ in the process. You can see how HOPE helps by clicking on this link. Make sure you watch the 3 minute video!


WHY LOANS AND NOT DONATIONS

You may wonder why HOPE loans money and trains people in poverty to save instead of just giving them the money or goods they need. Wouldn’t it be better to just give them clothes or food or money etc? The short answer is no, it wouldn’t be better. There are multiple factors that contribute to that answer, and I will just hit on a few of them here.

  • History has shown that handouts have not been able to get people out of poverty. We have been dumping free stuff into poor communities for decades and they are no less poor because of it. Actually, instead of helping them out of poverty, our free stuff has trapped them in poverty.

  • Handouts actually cripple local economies, while loans and savings help them to flourish. As one person uses their loan to start a business, opportunities are opened up to people around them as well. One small loan can have a ripple effect that impacts dozens of people.

  • While handouts tend to create dependency and teach people they are incapable of providing for themselves, loans and savings foster dignity and empower people to reach their dreams.

  • When a loan is given and eventually paid back, that money can be used to fund another loan. That means the same money loaned today could still be working to help people out of poverty 100+ years from now. So even small donations can have a very significant impact. This is HUGE!

Let’s consider this scenario. Imagine that you are a rice farmer in Haiti. You have 20 employees from different families that work for you, and you supply rice to everyone in your community. Now imagine the US starts sending free rice to your area. What do you think the effects of that will be? People will stop buying rice from you because they can get the US rice for free. You can’t employ people if no one is buying your rice, so you have to fire all 20 of your employees. That’s 20 families that just lost their income. Also, now that you aren’t producing rice, everyone in your community is now dependent on the free rice from the US. That’s just one small example. Just imagine the effects if we are sending in all kinds of free stuff (clothes, food, water, tools, etc). The people in the country or community that would produce these goods now have no incentive. The people they would have employed to help produce the goods are left unemployed.

Let’s look at the same scenario but instead of free rice, you receive a loan from one of HOPE International’s local partners. What might the effects be? You’re able to buy more land or equipment so that you can produce more rice. You are now able to sell to neighboring communities as well. Since you’re producing more rice, you need more employees. So you hire 10 more people from your community that were without jobs. After you pay off your loan, HOPE’s partner loans that same money to a woman who wants to buy a couple sewing machines. She plans to increase production of the clothes she has been sewing by hand. And so the cycle continues.


WHAT PART DOES KNOX STAYTION PLAY

Our main hope is to raise awareness and to encourage people like you to join the fight against poverty by giving directly to HOPE. Also, once our adoption is funded, we plan to give a portion of all bookings to HOPE. So when you stay at any of our properties, you are empowering people to get out of poverty and fulfill their dreams.


HELPFUL RESOURCES

For some helpful books on the topic check out Created to Flourish, When Helping Hurts, and Toxic Charity. You can also watch the documentary Poverty Inc. I don’t agree with every single thing found in these resources, but there is a lot to learn from each of them.