So what is poverty alleviation?
When our kids are young we often ask them “what do you want to be when you grow up?” For a long time when I asked my middle son this question, he would gaze off in the distance, a smile would creep over his face, and he’d whisper, “Spiderman.” While leaping from tall buildings and shooting webs at bad guys may not be a realistic goal, poverty alleviation helps people stuck in poverty to dream again. It asks them, “what are your dreams?” and “what gifts and abilities do you have?” then comes alongside them encouraging and helping them to step into their dreams using their God given gifts and talents. (When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert).
Part of our ministry in San Pedro, Belize is teaching music lessons to impoverished kids who currently don’t have the resources to learn an instrument. While it may not sound like learning to play an instrument is related to poverty alleviation, the point is not just to be able to play trumpet or flute. Learning an instrument as a child also provides the rich building blocks of discipline, self confidence, a sense of accomplishment, teamwork, and better cognitive development, to name a few, which will help these kids construct a better future in their adulthood.
Poverty alleviation says to the person stuck in poverty, “God has given you the gifts and talents to better your own situation.” Our ultimate goal for the people of Belize is for their identity to be restored in Christ and to help them pursue the dreams God has given them for a better life. For the Sound of Hope team this will look like: teaching music lessons, pointing people in the direction of skills training, connecting them with people who will mentor them, offering prayer ministry, or simply living life with people. We’re not arriving in San Pedro with the solution to end poverty in Belize, we’re helping them to connect to the Lord who loves them fiercely and has unlimited resources.