In our instant society, let’s look at things over the long term and see how, by acting locally today, we may be able to make a difference globally over a much longer period.
Some donors, both individual and corporate, who have generously given to a Baptist World Aid (BWAid) appeal, have often said that they want to see their money spent right away. They want to see the hungry fed, the sick healed, the homeless housed and the uneducated educated—now!
Life isn’t quite like that though. When the genocide broke out in Rwanda in 1993, BWAid received many generous donations. In all, we invested over $1 million through our Baptist groups in Rwanda over a period of seven or eight years. We met short-term needs and worked on long-term requirements.
I was recently in El Salvador and Nicaragua, two countries that have suffered a great deal from man-made conflict and, more recently, natural disasters. Hurricane Mitch hit Central America, and both countries have suffered from earthquakes.
Nearly two years after the earthquake in El Salvador, I was shown houses that had been rebuilt, and met with cooperatives that had been given land and were now growing melons, watermelons and green peppers. People now have roofs over their heads and prospects of becoming self-sufficient by selling their vegetables.
Likewise in Nicaragua, I was taken to a village where many houses had fallen down following the earthquakes caused by a volcanic eruption. Walking down the street in the town, I was told, “That’s a Baptist World Aid home,” while others had been rebuilt with the help of other agencies. I was impressed with the design of the houses we have rebuilt. The foundations go deeper, and the brick walls rise to only about three feet. Everything above that is made from a lighter material, so any future collapse is less likely to injure anyone in the house.
If we had spent all our money on instant results, we may have fed and clothed some people, but not have met their longer-term needs. Certainly the immediate needs are important, but—working through local Baptists—BWAid is normally in there for the long haul.
Assistance we give is also long-lasting. In Nicaragua I visited the Baptist University and Polytechnic (UPOLI). This great institution has an enrolment of over 7,000 and has made a major contribution to education in the country. In 1992 BWAid worked with the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and Baptists of Granville, Ohio, to provide UPOLI with a Bluebird bus. I can testify that the bus is still in good working order 10 years later!
So in our instant society, let’s look at things over the long term and see how, by acting locally today, we may be able to make a difference globally over a much longer period.
Paul Montacute has been director of Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance, since 1990.
Check out the latest BWAid appeals and look at our longer-term development projects at www.bwanet.org/bwaid.
Videos and CDs looking at BWAid’s hunger, refugees, medical and disaster relief work are available. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org