In any nation of the world, you are likely to find part of the population living lives of ease and pleasure, enjoying luxuries and indulging in rare and exotic experiences. Within those same populations are people who cannot afford the necessities of life, let alone dream of lavish lifestyles. These segments of society are often lacking shelter, enough food to eat, clean water, and basic clothing.
A look at this disparity of living may tempt you to believe the gap in lifestyles is too large to bridge, but there are many things that a single person can do to improve the well-being of those who live in poverty.
1. Understand the Obstacles of Poverty
Without an understanding of the challenges of poverty, it is difficult to help appropriately. For example, it often isn’t enough to provide a little bit of clothing or a meal here and there. Families and individuals stuck in a cycle of poverty are often deprived of the education that might lift them from their circumstances or adequate healthcare to ensure they are physically able to improve their situations.
People in poor communities may not have the same opportunities for employment as those in more comfortable conditions. Facing disadvantages economically, socially, and politically, entire segments of the population may be trapped in a cycle without the means to break free.
2. Recognize Talents and Value
Too often, people assume that gifts of money and goods are enough to make lasting changes in poor communities. While these donations are necessary, they don’t really address the underlying problem. One of the first things you can do as an individual is to change your perspective.
Rather than viewing these people as projects, take time to get to know individuals. As you come to know them, you’ll recognize the potential for success, while coming to love and respect individuals and groups of people. As part of these interactions, you may provide access to new job opportunities or give aid in overcoming everyday barriers.
3. Recognize Outside Influences
It is a somewhat prevalent attitude that the poor are poor because they haven’t done enough to change their situation. However, as you gain information about the issues facing impoverished communities, you’ll begin to recognize links between reproductive rights, workers’ rights, and the criminal justice system. Even in wealthy countries, there are struggles to implement government policies and programs that might alleviate poverty, lack of education, lack of healthcare, and income inequality. If you’re able to stop blaming the poor for their circumstances, you’ll be able to start affecting positive change.
4. Raise Awareness
In neighborhoods where clean water is taken for granted, it can be hard to imagine the struggle for water facing the poor in rural areas. When public education is more or less free, it is hard to believe that some children cannot afford to attend their local schools. According to the World Bank, 1 in 10 people survive on less than US$1.90 per day. That’s an issue that is easy to overlook when you’re surrounded by other affluent households.
5. Donate Money and Goods Wisely
Thoughtful financial assistance can be a boon to those in need. In the short term, those donations may provide a meal for a family or ensure another month of shelter. If you’re hoping to make a long-term difference, however, you may want to combine your efforts with others, such as charitable organizations.
Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva is one example of this type of work. She combined her efforts with UNESCO, the UN Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, which seeks to bring education to impoverished communities, foster unity between and appreciation for cultures, and advocates the importance of freedom of expression. Identify organizations with goals that align with yours and combine your resources with theirs to achieve lasting benefits.
6. Sponsor Fundraisers and Drives
Social media and electronic global communications have made it easier than ever to pull people together in a single effort. Communities around the world have been hit with hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. News of those disasters traveled quickly, inspiring disaster relief donations; emergency supplies, food, money, and volunteer services arrived from all over the world. When you see a need, you could sponsor a fundraising effort online, organize a collection drive, or gather volunteers to complete needed projects, such as building a well.
Social media is a powerful tool which can be leveraged by charitable organisations and NGOs in many ways to start a fundraiser and drive attendance at charity events. For those yet to get their act together, here are three important tips to help you get started;
• Maintain your organisation’s profile clarity & consistency across platforms.
• Encourage all the members of your organization to follow and share your posts.
• Choose the right SM platforms to promote your organization and its upcoming charity events, depending on who your target audience is.
7. Get Involved in Public Policies
Pay attention to existing laws and bills and take steps to recognize their effect on society, especially on those populations living in poverty. Sponsor and support policies and laws that are aimed at reducing poverty and improving the circumstances of those who don’t have the same advantages you enjoy.
As just one person, you may not feel that you can do much to alleviate the suffering of those living in poverty. However, there are steps you can take to increase awareness, change minds, and improve the circumstances of families or individuals in your community. Whether you choose to make donations or influence public policy, your efforts are sure to serve as an example for others.