|Anti-malaria training program in western Africa, 2014,|
by STeP UP Sao Tome, the in-country NGO.
~U.S. Agency for International Development
The same applies to our individual efforts to help others.
There are always immediate needs, of course. Getting through this day or this year is impossible for some. A war, a drought or disease, a regional upheaval; such things cause displacement and suffering that call for help just to survive.
Beyond that, what helps a family or a country make their way forward to a sustainable life of their own?
Many success and failures over recent decades illustrate what works. Investments in education, technology, government, health, all can make a difference. The key element needed for success, however, is a clearly defined goal coupled with the long-term commitment to get there.
A one-time gift to feed a family is deeply appreciated. It makes surviving the day or the month possible. A long-term investment may be what's needed to make a difference in the days and years to come.
The best options available to westerners who want to be effective are both small and large.
World Vision is perhaps the most effective organization available to us. While they offer child sponsorship, the actual work on the ground is community based. Their workers will spend a couple of decades in a community, helping them get on their feet and on a path sustainably forward. The sponsored kids are served well, but the assistance extends to include their family. Schools, roads, wells, agriculture improvements, basic business education, and more are offered within the cultural context in usable forms as the members of the community are equipped and resourced to tackle the issues.
Kids get mosquito nets for their homes in the battle
against malaria. One among many STeP UP
projects that really help.
In-country NGOs like STeP UP are precisely on target and accountable, recommend by knowledgeable folks at the U.S. Embassy. On FaceBook here. They're good folks whom I know personally.
Churches in the U.S. often have direct connections to foreign organizations that provide direct, accountable, and effective assistance.
Best first option, perhaps; go see for yourself. You can learn more in a week abroad than in years of study and speculation.