Have you ever experienced an offer of generosity from a family member, friend, or acquaintance that was well-intentioned, but…misplaced? Perhaps a friend making you a meal you’re allergic to or a parent buying you a piece of furniture you have no room for.
Of course you say thank you, but in your heart you might be thinking, “I wish you had asked what I needed, instead of offering what YOU thought I needed.”
Thinking we know what’s best for someone else is something we often encounter when serving cross-culturally.
When we go to a foreign land with our own first-world perspectives about what a good life looks like, we sometimes invest time and money into “fixing” something that doesn’t need to be fixed, or answering a question that was never asked. Not only is that a misuse of resources, it’s also not respecting the opinions, lives, and thoughts of those we are seeking to help.
The key to helping without hurting when serving people struggling with extreme poverty means always asking first: what do they say about their needs and about possible solutions?
At Forward Edge, it’s our passion to not only serve those trapped in poverty, but to empower every person who comes to us for assistance. This is why we focus on helping each community we serve identify the root causes of its poverty.
One tool Forward Edge utilizes to best address the individual needs of our communities is the 10 Seed Assessment. This program uses a simple packet of seeds and paper to help individuals pinpoint the true causes of poverty in their community, and then identify how we can best help empower them to respond to those issues.