The ‘poor’ are not just some conglomerate group which can be dismissed as an economically, non-productive sector of society that we are unfortunately stuck with. They are fellow human beings – real people, individuals – for whom we have concern and responsibility. Optiven Foundation is now 2 years, and this has been a period of testing the waters, we are now deep into the waters, we have been faced by overwhelming requests for support, we wanted to initially just cater for few cases, but each day we have been stretching to accommodate ‘one more only’ case. And when we thought that was the end, one more has come, desperate and very needy, it is not amusing to tell someone needy to go and come again another day…even the Bible warns against that….Deuteronomy 15:7-8

“If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers,in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart,nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. But we sometimes reach the limit, we exhaust budget and turn away the needy.”

 It is said that Sub-Saharan Africais the poorest region in the world. In West and Central Africa, one in every 6 people is severely poor. It is estimated that: Between 28% and 38% of the absolute poor population in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be chronically poor, totaling between 90 and 120 million people.

Types of Poverty

  • Absolute Poverty – It is the extreme kind of poverty involving the chronic lack of basic food, clean water, health and housing.People in absolute poverty tend to struggle to live and experience a lot of child deaths from preventable diseases like malaria, cholera and water-contamination related diseases.
  • Relative Poverty – This kind is usually in relation to other members and families in the society. For example, a family can be considered poor if it cannot afford vacations, or cannot buy presents for children at Christmas, or cannot send its young to the university. Even though they have access to government support for food, water, medicine and free housing, they are considered poor because the rest of the community have access to superior services and amenities
  • Situational Poverty (Transitory) – People or families can be poor because of some adversities like earthquakes, floods or a serious illness. Sometimes, people can help themselves out of this situation quickly if they are given a bit of assistance, as the cause of their situations was just one unfortunate event
  • Generational or Chronic Poverty -This is a more complicated type, it is when poverty is handed over to individuals and families from generations before them. In this type, there is usually no escape from it, as people are trapped in its causes and have no access to tools that will help them get out of it.

With the above, what do we do about it? Why turn away and we can mobilize people to join the course to alleviate poverty? We want to look into reasons why you should help the needy where you are as well, however minimal the support is, it still is a support.

We need to help in the below ways and for the following reasons

  • We have been mandated to help the poor –  not only the responsible poor, the Christian poor, the likeable poor, the sober poor, or the hardworking poor, He calls us to love and help everyone—no matter what! We need to pass along God’s infinite mercy in our lives to others. It is a call by Jesus that we help the poor. Give them food, clothes, time, energy, and whatever else that represents Christ love. You may have seen the poor, but have you ever imagined how it must feel not to be able to provide food for your hungry children; not to have a shirt on your back; not to be able to help your dying child because you lack access to medicine; not to be able to send your child to school when you know that some education is the only hope of success for that child and for your family. Arise and do something about it
  • We need to remember it is not a sin to be poor –  it is very easy to blame the poor for not working, being lazy, having drug addictions, making poor choices, and not trying hard enough. We often equate financial worth with personal value, and we place the poor in the lowest system of our preconceived systems. We treat them accordingly—bad, and are continually blaming, humiliating, and shaming them. We need to remember that being poor in and of itself isn’t a sin and doesn’t make a person less valuable in the eyes of God. All we need to do is to come up with sustainable mechanisms that can help them come out of their situations and develop
  • We need to nurture talents – The greatest form of wealth is human connection and human interaction. It’s one of the most influential currencies in the world. Because money isn’t everything. Besides, you never know if the next greatperson is waiting on the streets, homeless but doing something extraordinary. If you never help these people, you may never see the great value that some could bring to making our world a better place.
  • One of the better ways to help the poor and needy people is to give them a hand up rather than a hand out – Giving them moral support, showing heartfelt humility and respect makes them aware that someone really does care about them and trying to improve their condition. By providing them with the opportunities to improve their condition on their own would increase their self-esteem and help them in overcoming barriers they face every day. Work with the poor and needy people and help them discover their own capabilities and capacity and putting them to use at the right place at the right time. Support them and let them know that they have something of value which can be used for meeting their basic requirements.
  • Understand the needs and requirements of the poor and needy people – Help them overcome the adversities of life. One can help the poor and needy people by understanding their wants, desires and thoughts without diminishing their dignity and helping them achieve those wants in a respectable manner. Also, one should treat the poor and needy people with respect and understanding. This would make a huge difference in their lives. Give them the same respect and courtesy you would accord your friends and family members. Respond them with a kind word and a smile.
  • Offer Education – Quality education empowers people to take advantage of opportunities around them. It helps children get knowledge, information and life skills they need to realize their potential. Training teachers, building schools, providing education materials and breaking down that prevent children from accessing education are important features of poverty alleviation programmes.

Start today and help alleviate poverty Partner with us as well and join our programs to know how well to fit in.

“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.”