Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aid or Band-aid?

None of us would just slap a band-aid on a deep cut, a broken arm, or a severe burn and say, "There you go. All better now!"

In each case, a band-aid would be grossly inadequate.

Our Sunday school class recently did a study on helping the poor in the neighborhood around our church. The members of the class expressed a deep concern that often our assistance is about as effective as applying a band-aid to a broken arm. In retrospect, we wondered if instead of helping, we have actually been fostering  co-dependency.

As we discussed our concerns, someone quoted, “If you give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” (Author unknown)

Sadly, on further reflection we realized that, although our motives were laudable, all we had been doing was giving out fish—not teaching people to fish.

While doing a Google search to trace the source of the quote, I discovered that the fishing quote encapsulates the philosophy of Dan West, founder of Heifer International. West formed this organization in the early 1940’s after serving as a Church of the Brethren relief worker during the Spanish Civil War.

Heifer International (H.I.) teaches the poorest of the poor to not only become self-sufficient but to share with others their knowledge, resources, and skills, creating an expanding network of hope, dignity, and self-reliance. H. I. equips people to aid themselves, offering them a hand-up rather than a hand-out. This organization doesn’t just slap on a band-aid.

Interested in learning more or contributing to this ministry? Click on Heifer International.