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Stop Buying Band-Aids, Start Building Hospitals


Written by Plant With Purpose on January 18, 2013 in General

By Leanna Malkowski of Live 58: 

For the last week or so I have been asking friends a question that was brought to my attention through a recent conversation with Plant With Purpose (PWP) rep. Corbyn Small. The answers have all prompted a quizzical brow and some blank stares, but all have led me to keep questioning. So now I turn to you.

Is there a difference between community development and aid work? And if so, what is it? Furthermore, is one more important than the other?

Take a moment and really think about your answer to that. I have come to believe that if the majority of people living in the US thought there was a difference between the two, then more people would become involved in community development, instead of just aid work.

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PWP is an organization that has been doing incredible community development work for the past  28 years. Their work is three fold in focusing on environmental, economic, and spiritual development through improving quality of life, restoring relationships and promoting self sufficiency. Corbyn shared some insight into how a project can start in a community just by showing a family how to diversify their income and increase nutrition by teaching them sustainable practices.

“This could be as simple as a family garden, and a plant with purpose trainer is walking alongside the family, teaching them about organic composting, and they begin practicing that along with growing the garden. This can teach the family about more than just working for a cash crop that they’re typicallyliving on. A family garden then becomes a way of increasing nutrition for the families, and the organic composting becomes a way to actually get a higher yield from the vegetables they’re growing, and increasing the soil capacity which allows for more produce. This is all under the umbrella of diversifying income as they increase what they can they can sell for income, as well as increasing the yield in their own backyard, which allows for them to better feed and provide for their families.”

The need for a developmental mindset is necessary if sustainable practices are the end desire for a community, which brings me back to the original question, and the conversation about PWP’s work in Haiti that sparked it.

“Community development is not a simple process, and there’s a large percentage of the population that doesn’t differentiate community development from aid.”

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Aid is something that gets a lot of attention through the news because of the severity. A lack of differentiation of aid from community development allows donor fatigue to happen because people think they’ve already given time and money to ‘fix’ Haiti, but what they’ve really given to is just barely keeping people alive. What they’ve really done is put a band-aid on a community that needs a whole hospital.

“Having a development mindset means investing in individuals that are in Haiti and walking alongside families that are working to provide change that will really last. Change doesn’t take place just from money being poured into it, but from individuals who have a transformed mindset about their role in their country.”

Haiti is just one example of a place that has received an influx of valuable aid relief work, yet there is still extreme poverty there. Don’t get me wrong, I believe aid work has a necessary role to play, but PWP is addressing the root of the problem by empowering the people to understand that they don’t have to live in poverty. Through PWP, anyone can buy a tree for $1. That dollar has longevity; that dollar could mean a steady income, more crops grown, an avenue to food everyday, a chance for children to attend school, and most of all, this tree gives people renewed hope. So why aren’t we doing that? That’s the most inexpensive hospital I’ve ever built. I challenge to look for the longevity of your actions, or rather, the lack of your actions: do they renew the hope of the world we live in? Or do they just put another band-aid on the problem?

This post originally appeared on Live58: Fast. Forward. The End of Poverty. 58: is a movement to end extreme poverty through authentic Christian living. Based on Isaiah 58, we invite you to join us as we fast, pray and give to end extreme poverty. Plant With Purpose is the Environmental Stewardship partner in this alliance.


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