Sunday, August 14, 2016

You Ask . . . How Can We Help?

Some of you have asked how you can help the people of Kenya.  Can you send clothes? some of you ask.  How about toothpaste and soap or other sanitary supplies?  Well I'll tell you what I've learned.

 Elder Dale G. Renlund, who is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and has served for many years in Africa puts it this way:  "The greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement."  And that sense of entitlement is not what we want the good people of Kenya to feel.  We want them to have the self-esteem that comes with their own self-reliance.

Our church leaders here in South East Africa really discourage the many one or two-week humanitarian projects we see here.  They help and then they leave and the people are the same as they were before.  The adage, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" is so very true.

Self-reliance and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are the best things we can give.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of our modern-day apostles has quoted a former president of the Church, Ezra Taft Benson, when he said, “We don’t so much take people out of poverty or take them out of difficult settings as much as we teach them the gospel and they lift their eyes and their vision and they make their own way out of poverty. That principle is true.”  (See <http://www.mormonnewsroom.co.ke/article/emerging-with-faith-in-africa>).

LDS Charities, the Church's huge humanitarian effort began in 1985 in Ethiopia.  I remember that we had a special Church-wide fast and we donated the money we would have spent on food to the Church to help with the severe famine in Ethiopia.  $6.4 million dollars was donated on that one Fast Sunday.  (We also have a regular Fast Sunday once a month and donate money to help those in need.) You can read about the Ethiopia fast here: <http://www.ldsliving.com/Elder-Ballard-s-Miraculous-Trip-to-Ethiopia-the-Beginning-of-LDS-Charities/s/80514/?utm_source=ldsliving&utm_medium=sidebar&utm_campaign=related>

The Church led out in helping Ethiopia and then many NGO's moved in to Africa.  Though well-meaning, in many cases, they have fostered dependence and a sense of entitlement, even among governments in the countries where they have done projects.  Many governments have learned how to "farm" the NGO's and the people have not been helped at all.

The Church works with reputable organizations such as Catholic Charities and the Red Cross to help people, members and nonmembers alike, worldwide, especially during natural disasters.  (See  <https://www.lds.org/topics/humanitarian-service/church?lang=eng>).  But on-going humanitarian efforts are geared toward not doing for others what they can and should do for themselves.  The Church policy is to help people learn to be self-reliant.  Yes, we can't see little children starving and do nothing -- we must step in and help.  But the Church's welfare system instructs us to meet our own needs and if we can't, for us to first turn to our own families, and then to our local leaders who are closest to us.  Elder Renlund says, "Because of their proximity to the givers, recipients who receive help according to this pattern are grateful and are less likely to feel entitled."

So you ask . . . how can we help?  The best way is to pay a generous Fast Offering and if possible, to donate to the Church's Humanitarian and Perpetual Education funds.  100% of these donations go to the people in need.  The Church takes no percentage for administration.  The Humanitarian programs are run by volunteers who pay their own way.  So . . . can you help the people of Kenya?  YES!!!

Check out another article about how a South African girl is helping South Africans:http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/09/africa/orange-drought-kiara-nirghin/index.html

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