Brad Ruggles

The Art Of Living

Breaking The Cycle Of Poverty

One of the common questions about Compassion (or any charity for that matter) is, “Where does my money go and what is it used for?” That’s a valid question and one worth exploring.

Let’s suppose you were given a sum of money to help a community who has been caught in the cycle of poverty for generations. What would you do? Sure, you could use the money to buy them food, clothing or medicine (all of which Compassion does) but if you only did that, where would that community be when the clothes wore out and the food was gone?

Compassion goes further than just simple food distribution – they focus on the whole person and give them the tools to help break the cycle of poverty themselves.

I could tell you how they do it…or I could introduce you to Caroline Otwoma.

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Caroline lives in a 10′ x 10′ shack with her husband and four children in the congested slums of Kawangware, a place devoid of hope.

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And yet in the midst of the poverty and hopelessness that surrounded her she welcomed us into her home with a bright smile on her face. Caroline was part of the Compassion Child Survival Program (CSP) that taught mothers the skills necessary to raise their family. Every week Caroline walks to the Compassion program to learn things like how to fashion a container for water so that she can have access to clean water to wash her hands.

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She was excited to show us how she has been able to learn a trade that helps support their family. Through a micro-finance loan she was able to purchase groundnuts to sell at the market.

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Caroline showed us how she first sorted through the nuts…

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then prepared the fire….

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before roasting the nuts in a pot.

She then packages the nuts into little plastic bag and seals them using the heat from a small candle.

She sells the little packages of nuts at the market and is able to make about 80 shillings ($1.05) a day.

As we left her husband proudly told us that his wife was working hard and that together they were changing their situation. He thanked us for coming to visit their house that they lived in “for now.” He said “for now” because he told us that he knew that they wouldn’t be there forever. The tools they had and the skills they learned were helping them break free from the poverty that surrounded them, one bag of nuts at a time.

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It is their attitude that gives me hope. They know that their situation isn’t hopeless as long as they have the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty. That is what Compassion does. That is what you do when you sponsor a child or give monthly to the Child Survival Program.

That is how the cycle of poverty is broken.

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