Laura Tremaine is traveling with our team of eight bloggers in Sri Lanka this week, visiting children, families, and communities whose lives have been impacted by World Vision’s work through our sponsorship programs.
Today, she discusses a provocative question: How do we make international assistance a priority when the need is so great right here in the United States?
Read on for her thoughts — and then share your own!
Laura’s post originally appeared on her blog, Hollywood Housewife.
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I want to address something that might have floated through your mind — at least it has mine.
Why travel to the opposite side of the world to provide humanitarian aid when there is plenty of need right here in America?
I have thought this. I still occasionally think this.
And I actually believe that if your resources are so finite that, given the choice between only helping your neighbor or only helping Sri Lanka, I would choose to help the person beside you every time.
But this doesn’t give one a pass.
For many of us — most, I daresay, of the Hollywood Housewife readership — the choices here are not mutually exclusive. For years, my husband and I have supported programs both locally and internationally. Really, the two things aren’t comparable.
In the United States, we have homelessness, hunger, abuse, disease. We have private charitable organizations, faith-based outreaches, and government-funded programs. Some of these need a massive overhaul; many are doing incredible work on American soil.
In the United States, we have people who are down on their luck. We currently have the largest percentage of unemployment in my lifetime. There is a lot of hardship just down the street — genuine stress.
Yesterday in Sri Lanka, I met a family who has to walk miles to school in one direction and miles to work in the other direction, and over a mile in a third direction to get water. They do it every day — because work is scarce, and education is the only way out, and well water keeps them alive.
World Vision is new to their area, and they’ve already fixed the roads, making their daily travel much better. There are plans to improve the water situation. World Vision funds these changes with child sponsorships.
I’m going to tell you more about how the child sponsorship program works as we go along, as I see it with my own eyes. I know that part of the “help America first” argument is fueled by the skepticism of sending money to a faraway place without knowing what’s actually happening to it.
I’m witnessing what’s happening to it, and you wouldn’t believe the miracles it provides.
Lately, because of the presidential election and my decision to take this trip, I’ve seen and heard some anti-American sentiment — rumbles of “selfish Americans,” etc. This outrages me. I do not believe this.
I think that technology gives a voice to extremes, for better or worse. I think that, in general, people are good — that Americans are good and generous. I think that people do want to help other people, but they’re not sure what that looks like or if it’s even effective.
I don’t know how to tell you to help your American neighbor, although I encourage you to do so. I do know how you can help other souls just like yours — mothers, daughters, sisters, little ones — across the world, and I’m trying to show you that this week.
This is real life — theirs, and yours.
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