Once, while talking with a Methodist bishop in Kenya, I heard an old Kenyan proverb which I’ve never forgotten. The bishop told me that in Kenya there is a saying that goes like this: “Teach a boy and you educate a person. But, teach a girl and you educate an entire village.”
Those of us working toward ending poverty and creating a world without hunger know the truth of this proverb. That’s why school feeding programs like Stop Hunger Now’s are so effective and so powerful. When meals are provided at schools the enrollment doubles, triples and sometimes increases even more, and most of that increased attendance is from girls. And even 3-4 years of school can dramatically change a girl’s life forever.
We have learned that educating girls and young women actually changes their communities for the better. Empowering girls does change the world. Believe it. The “Girl Effect” is real.
In my last post I focused on a couple of European proverbs that dealt with both how God provides and our responsibility. That morphed into a mini-rant on the flaws in our US welfare system.
A more familiar saying to most of us, and a response I hear on a regular basis when I teach about ending hunger in our lifetime, is
God helps them that help themselves.
We are told that this little nugget is a Biblical teaching pointing out that the poor are poor because they are to lazy to help themselves. And although there are some poor who are not as industrious as we think they should be, this proverb is just another traditional saying. It isn’t in the Bible.
Many would like to have the Bible to help justify not helping the poor among us, but this proverb is not a quote from the Bible. Look for yourself. It just isn’t there.
As I pointed out yesterday, there are some poor in the United States that have come to the place where they feel entitled to help. This comes from a flawed welfare system that rewards people for not exerting the effort to help themselves.
That doesn’t mean that the hungry in our country should not be helped. Hungry people need to be fed, wherever they are found. How can we tolerate over 40 million of our citizens going hungry on a regular basis?
What is needed is that we fix the broken system. That includes changing the law, It also means changing the values and lifestyles of those receiving aid.
Changes of this magnitude do not happen without tremendous effort and time, but I think it is worth the effort. Do you?