What is poverty?
Poverty is more than just a lack of money. It’s not being able to go to school, battling poor health and living with the isolation and shame of social stigma. It is the result of broken relationships—first with God, then with others and finally with oneself—and it brings forth notions of inferiority and powerlessness.
What poverty isn’t
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that people are poor because they don’t have what we have: take-away food on demand, a manicured front lawn and a car tucked up safely in the garage.
But poverty is so much more than this. It’s not only a lack of financial and physical resources, but also a lack of confidence and motivation to do anything about it, because your life experience has shown you trying does no good. Imagine the damage this can do to a child.
Children and poverty
Poverty itself is an injustice—but this injustice is at its worst when it’s against children.
Around the world, there are:
- 1.1 billion children who live in poverty
- 200 million children under five who are chronically undernourished or whose growth has been stunted
- 22,000 children under five who die every day from diseases and complications that are mostly preventable.
It’s clear that poverty is not a condition that God created for His children to live in.
Children should not be subject to hard labour at such a tender age; they are not created to run a household before they have started school. They should not have to worry about where their next meal will come from—or if they will get a meal at all. And they should never have to go to bed early in an attempt to forget their hunger pains.
In Deuteronomy 15:4, God outlines his desire for Israel, that “there should be no poor among you”. God’s heart is for poverty to be eliminated in our world.
The role of the Church
God blessed children with a Church that knows the truth—that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. As the Body of Christ, there is no other army more empowered and engaged to act on behalf of children in poverty than the Church.
It is for this reason that Compassion believes the Church is the answer. By partnering with local churches in communities where the children live, each child’s unique circumstances are identified and addressed individually, rather than addressed with a blanket response.
We believe that children are agents of transformation, because changed circumstances might change a person, but a changed person will always change their circumstances.
(UNICEF State of the World’s Children 2009; Millennium Development Goals Report 2010 – UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on MDG Indicators World Food Program 2010 Annual Reports)