Sunday, September 14, 2014

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. Proverbs 28:27 New International Version

A week ago last Friday, my daughter called and said she had some news. I waited for her to spill it and in those two seconds, I began to wonder if I would see this as good news or bad news.

She couldn’t wait for long though to tell me that her nonprofit organization, Tumaini Volunteers Inc., had achieved tax exempt status. Which means that now anyone who donates to it can deduct that donation on their income taxes, which means people with extra money have further incentive to share their money with us.

Since I returned from Africa in May of 2013, I have set up a booth at I believe six events. At these shows, I have been selling the Kenyan arts and crafts which we had brought back with us or which our Kenyan friends had routed to us. All of the money raised at those craft shows goes right back to Tumaini. Inevitably, while I am telling our story to anyone who is willing to stop long enough to hear it, someone will say something that rubs me the wrong way. Here are the things I have heard:

1) But we have poor people in this country. True, we do. And luckily there are many government and private programs to help these people. I do realize too that some of these people slip through the cracks, either they are too proud to ask for assistance, they don’t know that help is out there, or some loophole prevents them from getting any aid. I have worked in the medical field for over 25 years, so I know that this is true. And it frustrates me. But I still believe these people have more resources available than those living in third world countries do.

2) But the people living over there really don’t have it that bad. Really? Really? And you can say that because you have been there?  Coz I have been there twice and my daughter has been there three times. All together, the two of us have spent nearly a year in Kenya. We weren’t there as tourists, instead we saw how the majority of the residents live. Not in plush hotels, not in safari resorts, but in slums and hovels and mud huts. Most of them live without running water or reliable electricity. There is no such thing as insurance, of any kind. If you get sick, you may find help at a local clinic run by a charity, or you may end up dying alone at home from a simple infection that no one in America would ever die from. There’s no foster care system to take in the thousands of children who have been orphaned or abandoned by parents who simply can’t afford them. I hate to tell you this, but it really is that bad.

3) But I don’t have that kind of money. What kind of money would that be? The average Kenyan lives on less than a dollar a day. I am just going to make up a figure and say that 80% of Americans can find an extra thirty dollars a month somewhere in their budget that they could spend on a worthwhile charity. If you don’t want to send it overseas (as in example 1), than give that money to a local charity.

4) But I’ve heard that there is so much corruption that my donation won’t really end up helping the needy. Finally a statement I can agree with. But all that this means is that you have to check out the organization you are sending your money to. Just like in this country, some nonprofit organizations have CEOs who garner an obscene income, and only a very small percentage of your donation goes directly to those who really need it.  If you should choose to give your hard-earned money to Tumaini Volunteers, I will show you exactly where your money is going, who it is going to help and how it is going to change their life. Or better yet, you can sign up for a volunteer trip with us and come see for yourself.

Ok, so that’s me on my soapbox this week. I will promptly climb down now and return to my normal life. No, hold it, I don’t have a normal life, so that’s not going to happen.

 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.1 Peter 3:8 New International Version 

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