Last summer, I went on a cruise to the Caribbean with my club soccer team and my coach, who was from one of the islands. We went to play soccer games on the islands and when we weren't playing a game, we were touring the islands. The tours were not just tours of the touristy parts of the island, so we saw everything and that's when we all saw the poverty none of us were used to.
By no means is my family wealthy but we are incredibly blessed, never in my life have I seen someone living in a house made of rusty metal sheets the size of my bathroom. It truly changed my perspective on things because less than five miles down the road was a gated community where all the "rich expats lived" words from our tour guide. We learned that there was a tax law there, that if you didn't pay your taxes at any point could another family come in pay your taxes. Suddenly your home is not your's anymore it belongs to the person who paid the taxes.
Most Americans take out a loan to buy a house, could you image someone coming in and paying off the rest of the loan on your home and suddenly you were homeless they owned everything except the shirt off your back, I couldn't. Not all the islands were this way, but there is poverty everywhere in the world it was just more obvious to me on this island than anywhere else I had ever seen. As Americans, we are so incredibly lucky to live in the country we do. But yet we also seem to have our blinders on when it comes to poverty in the United Stated. We still have places in our nation where people can't afford electricity and running water, yes it's a lot less prevalent in our nation but its still there.
Your probably thinking "oh well your going to tell us the answer on how to fix poverty." And the answer is no, I'm not. I have no idea what to do. I'm 18 years old and haven't even started college yet. I'm so under-qualified to even try and give you an answer except to pray that the people receive what they need and not what an American thinks they need.
So from my very naive American perspective if you had asked me before I went on that trip. My answer would be they need cash, it's what we do as Americans. We give money to people that are in need, but if you really think about it, they have never had much money. So that might not necessarily be the correct answer. Sadly some of the people in poverty that are given money don't spend it on things that they need to while others do. There are always going to be people that find alcohol and drugs more important than food, but not everyone.
Honestly some of y'all who are reading this are probably thinking what does she know, and your right. I have never wanted for anything in my life. I've always had food in my tummy and whenever I've gotten sick I've been able to go to the doctor. My point is my life has been easy yes, I've had issues, but nothing I have gone through compares to the people that question where their next meal will come from. My whole point for writing this wasn't to give you the answer to ending poverty. Only God can answer that. It was just to simply open your eyes and urge you to look around and see what you can do here at home. Instead of spending a bunch of money to go on a mission trip.
Mission trips are great, but they are also so expensive and there are so many other ways you can help. Chances are the ones that are reading this have a few extra dollars to spare the next time that you're at the grocery store and a cashier asks you if you would like to donate to "Food for the Poor." Those extra few dollars can change someone's life. God says "If there among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother" Deuteronomy 15:7. As my pastor always says "love God, love People and serve Both".