Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Financial Satisfaction

I overheard, and tried to participate in a Facebook conversation recently (I know, even I am amazed that we can call what takes place on Facebook a conversation) about the price of food and groceries for an average family. After the conversation, I started thinking a little more about the average cost of food across the world. Thinking of the millions and billions of people living on what most of us would consider "spare change".

It's fine to compare your organic, vegetarian, super food grocery budget to my conventional beef and rice, and canned vegetable budget, but it's also not a fully valid comparison until you compare it across the world. Especially around Thanksgiving, it's important not only to give thanks for what we've been given, but to give back to those who don't have as much as we do. Maybe you can donate a farm animal through a charitable organization. Maybe you can contribute to a microfinance company to enable more people to be self-employed. Maybe you could even sponsor a child from one of these countries. Or at a minimum, you could donate $5 to the World Food Programme, which would pay for approximately 20 meals.

Why is it important to give to people who are going hungry? Who are we really helping?

Let me tell you a story. It's not a true story in the sense of country and name, but it plays out in more countries than you could imagine across the world every day.

This story is about a little girl named Tia in Nepal. Tia comes from a very poor mountain family, and girls in her village are considered second class citizens. Her parents don't want to send her to school, because it is too far of a walk, and they would have to spend their pittance of income on school supplies and clothing. They manage a bare subsistence living by farming on the side of a mountain, but bad weather and a short growing season keep them always on the brink of starvation. Tia is the last person in her family to eat at the table, since she has an older brother and grandfather who live with them.

Lately, there have been rumors of well-dressed, professional men coming to the village down in the valley every week, talking about jobs in the city. They have said that for every girl or boy that goes to these fabulous factory jobs, the parents will receive $100 up front. Tia is 10, so she will soon be old enough to travel to the city for work. What her parents don't realize, is that most of these so-called employment companies are nothing more than slave traders, often selling girls into household slavery, or much worse.

Recently, a world food programme was started at the school Tia is supposed to attend. New groups are coming to her village to tell her parents about the school food programme. Instead of $100 up front, Tia would receive a lunch meal at school, and, because she is considered a "vulnerable child" her family would also receive a food stipend every month. Her family only receives the monthly food stipend if she attends school regularly. The difference between that $100 one time, and an ongoing commitment to provide food for the rest of her family, could be the difference in life and death. $50 is enough to provide a school food program for one year for one girl. Is Tia's life only worth $100? Or is she worth infinitely more than that?

World Food Programme website
World Vision
Samaritan's Purse
Kive (microfinance)

*As an FYI, none of the links in this article are paid referral links, because that just seems wrong.
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