We’ve all seen, and many have experienced first-hand, images of poverty. And many well-meaning church groups and other organizations have arrived in similar impoverished areas, built buildings, given away money or other material items, only to return years later and realize, the people are not better for it. They are still stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty.
In the 1990s, the World Bank asked more than 60,000 poor people from 60 low-income countries the question “what is poverty?” While many Americans, like myself, would describe poverty as a lack of material things such as food, clean water, housing, etc, the majority of the poor people surveyed described their situation in terms of “shame, inferiority, powerlessness, humiliation, fear, hopelessness, depression, social isolation, and voicelessness.” (When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert). Poverty has become part of their identity.
In San Pedro, Belize, our friends who work at Holy Cross School have seen many well meaning individuals and organizations come in and give away money or material possessions to the impoverished people there. Unfortunately their heartfelt desire to help these people ends up being a little like slapping a band-aid on a broken bone. A person who sees himself as inferior or that their situation is hopeless, has a broken image of their true identity.
Poverty is a complex issue and we at Sound of Hope Ministries, don’t pretend to have all the answers. But we are children of our glorious Father who has given us a new identity in Christ. One of the ways we hope to encourage the children of the area is through music lessons. Through learning an instrument, children also gain self-confidence, discipline, teamwork, and better cognitive development, which will help define who they are and what they can accomplish in their adulthood.
Whether you grew up in an affluent suburb like me, or behind broken down cinder blocks, we all need parts of our identity to be restored into the fullness of who God created us to be. And that is our desire for each person in San Pedro, Belize.