Joanna in Nicaragua - Study Abroad Journal
Trinity students have the life-changing opportunity to study abroad through the College’s semesters in Spain, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Other opportunities exist through partner organizations.
Joanna Dykstra ’11 of Hammond, Indiana, is studying in Nicaragua this semester. Follow her each month on her study abroad adventure…
January and February Journal
Thursday, January 28, 2010
We are now in Managua. Our host family is awesome! Roberto and Greiselda and their 2-year-old son have been very welcoming. The language barrier has been interesting, but it is fun to read the dictionary together and play charades.
This morning I woke up by a natural alarm clock at 5:30 am: A ROOSTER LIVES OUTSIDE OF MY WINDOW...no sleeping in for me, I guess. Greiselda made Greg and I each a big fruit platter for breakfast, yummy! After I ate, Greiselda helped me unpack my things; she is very helpful.
It is very hot compared to y’all’s 15 degree weather. All in all, I love it here and can't wait to learn more about Managua!
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Here are some photos of my house. The top left is where we eat meals; it is the view from my bedroom. The top right is the front room. There is a TV in there, we watch a lot of television. Nicas like things loud because that means happiness, when things are quiet it signals loneliness, therefore either the stereo or tv is always on. The tv is good because then all of us can laugh together. The bottom left is the kitchen (La cocina). The bottom right is the front of the house. It is enclosed by a gate. In the picture is Yasert y Greiselda. The dog's name is Rambo, he is there for protection. There are a lot of pretty gardens in the yard too.
Today we went to a church called Iglesia Verbo. I LOVED IT! It reminded me of my church at home, Mercy Hill. The only difference is that it was louder and bigger. Nicas have very, very loud churches, it’s really cool. The songs were in Spanish, but I understood all of them, and three of them were Hillsong songs. The sermon was in Spanish, but there was a translator. I want to go back there.
Tomorrow I start classes at the Nehemiah Center. I will be taking Spanish and Nica culture/history. I will take classes for half the time I am here. I will be taught by some staff at the center. The last half of the semester I will do my internship.
I wish I could tell you guys everything, but that would take so much time. Thank you for your prayers!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
This week we started our classes. I decided that we needed to take a “First Day of School” picture while we were waiting at our bus stop. We have to take two buses to get to the Nehemiah Center.
Samantha, the other girl in the picture, and I are in an advanced Spanish class. Greg and Tim are in beginner Spanish. My classroom is in the Nehemiah center; it is nice and open to the outside.
I decided that I want to add another day of Spanish instead of taking the media class that Sam, Tim, and Greg are taking. Starting next week I will have four hours of Spanish three days a week. That means that I am going to get a new teacher, and it will be one-on-one. I am also studying Nica Culture and History and Worldview. I have a lot of homework already, but it is all fascinating to me so I don’t mind doing the work.
Since I am not taking that media class, I will have one day free to do something else. Some staff at the Nehemiah Center are going to find me some opportunities; I may even get to teach English to some of the staff!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
This weekend we went to a giant crater named “Laguna de Apollo.” It was beautiful! While we were there I did a lot of kayaking and swimming. We stayed in a cabana that was right on the water. It was very relaxing and a nice break from busy Managua.
On one of my many ventures out on the kayak, I went right to the middle of the laguna. I looked out and all I saw was God’s creation. The only words that I could sing were “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” The next line in that song is “with all creation I sing, praise to the king of kings, you are my everything and I will adore you.” Those words had a new meaning. It was as if creation was singing along with me how holy Christ is. Christ did not need to make the earth so beautiful and intricate, but he did, and for that I am grateful.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Nica food is very yummy, but it is different than I think most of you would assume. Nica food is kind of bland, depending on the item. There is one thing that is at almost every meal: gallo pinto (rice and beans). I like it so much, that I am slightly disappointed if it is not at a meal. Another typical item is ensalada (salad). The salad is made with raw cabbage. It has lime and salt in it. They will sometimes add tomatoes and cucumbers to it. There is also this topping called “crema.” The yellow things in the picture are fried plantains. There is not a ton of variety in the typical Nica diet. The reason is because they eat for survival, we on the other hand eat for enjoyment. In Nica, they also eat their meals differently than in the states. In Nica, breakfast is the biggest meal, then lunch is big too, and dinner is smaller. It is hard to adjust to not having a hearty dinner, but it is probably better to do it in that order.
Monday, February 15, 2010
This weekend we ventured out to the Pacific Coast. Our plans were to learn how to surf. In Nica, Don is a term of respect; I now call the ocean Don Ocean because I have a deep respect for it.
I’ve been to the ocean once before, but I only went in it for a few moments because I was scared. This time, I was fearless. I got my boogie board and dove right in, trying to swim past where the waves broke. I kept at it, but every time a wave came I got shoved back onto shore. The sum of my story is that I did not attempt surfing; I realized that I do not have the strength to paddle past the waves. My dreams were shattered this weekend, for my secret dream was to move to the ocean and be a surfer babe. But, I will stay positive. Greg did a pretty good job surfing. He never got up, but he got close a couple of times. With some more practice, I have no doubt he will be a surfer dude.
In addition to swimming a lot in the ocean, we ate some yummy food at some restaurants on the beach nearby. Also, my prof, Dan Brun, and my friend Samantha and I made a reggae music video. To say the least, we had a weekend full of laughter.
And one last thing: Nicaragua has the best chocolate ever!
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Yasert is my little brother for the semester. He is two years old; he is, in every sense of the phrase, in his terrible twos. From the time he wakes up until he falls asleep at night, he is on the go, literally never stopping. I have nicknamed him “El Huracan” or “The Hurricane.” Greiselda amazes me with her patience and her ability to laugh at him; he is truly a bundle full of joy.
Friday, February 19, 2010
On October 3, 1998, Hurricane Mitch killed almost an entire community. Those who survived had nothing left but the clothes on their backs. Hurricane Mitch stopped over the community of Santa Maria; for almost two weeks it did not stop raining, causing a mudslide. The scale of this disaster is similar to what is going on in Haiti at the moment. Because this community was up in the mountains, many people did not know the extent of the damage going on, and it made it difficult for rescue and relief agencies.
Although Hurricane Mitch happened 11 years ago, those who survived are still struggling to manage. Last week, we went and visited the Santa Maria community and I was able to interview many of the families affected. One woman I talked with lost all four of her daughters, her parents, and many other relatives. She was one of the 11 people who were on the mountain during Hurricane Mitch who survived.
The Santa Maria community was helped by relief agencies. They were all built and given new homes. This was great because it provided them with a roof over their head. The problem was and still is, they don't have a way to make money to survive. The Santa Maria community was all farmers. Along with all their other possessions, their land was destroyed. Eleven years later, some have found enough work to have beans for dinner every night, while others wonder how they are going to find food for the next day because there is no land for them to farm.
There are many sad stories to be told, but all of them have an amazing faith that has brought them through. The shack you see above, started as a table outside of the school in Santa Maria. Petrona, a survivor of Hurricane Mitch, realized she could make a profit by selling snacks to the students. A year later, she has a building, and is able to survive off the profits. Not only does she survive, she helps many other families by providing work and giving them money to live.
Saturday, February 27
We came to Costa Rica to learn more about the topic of immigration. Because the politics and economy are very bad in Nicaragua, many immigrate to Costa Rica for work. We have had the opportunity to talk to people on all sides of the issue. Yesterday, we toured some of Costa Rica and went to a human rights organization to interview a woman who works in the area of immigration rights.
Today we climbed up to see a crater volcano and a crater laguna; they were both very beautiful. Along the way we had some fun adventures too! It was bittersweet these past two days because I have been very nauseous, and I was wheezing all the way up the volcano, but I tried to make the best of it.
But today we saw something different, and I want to try and describe my situation to you:
I wanted to cry because I did not know how to process the things I was seeing, not the volcano,
but the second half of our day, La Carpio.
La Carpio is a Nicaraguan neighborhood that has formed in Costa Rica. It is a community of people who have a great hope to make a better life. I have no pictures to share, but I do have stories.
Many people opened up their homes to us and talked openly about their lives, answering the questions we had. I can’t describe the community to you, but it is full of people who do not have much physically but are filled with hope; spiritually they are rich. The dilemma is that I don’t know where to go from here. All they asked is that we pray for their families; that we pray for more people to know Christ. That I can, and will do. It’s hard to see amazing people suffer; and it’s really hard to just walk away and go on with your day. You want to help so badly, but I just don’t know how.
Maybe by the time I leave here I will understand better how to truly love people the way Christ does.
March Journal Entries
Wednesday, March 3
Hay Muchas Cosas
A month in. A bit homesick. A lot to process at one time.
In the midst of every great thing there are always moments where you wish you could speed up time, or at least pause it to breathe. Yesterday I had a moment and thanks to Greg, I could talk it out.
At this particular point in my life I have a lot to think about, as far as my future goes. I have fallen in love with a lot of Nica things. If you don’t know me, I get really excited and passionate about good things easily. In my brain, every other second I say I am going to move here, then the next moment I’m saying I just want to go back to Chicago. It’s very exhausting. I am aware that I do not need to make that decision right now, so then I think, “Joanna, stop thinking about that!”
Yesterday I was chopping away, dicing carrots and celery for dinner. Little ants were running rampantly across the table and the food. Ants everywhere in the house is just normal. I have been able to get over some of my phobia of ants, but on days where I’m homesick and my mind is all over the place, it’s hard to find the strength to get over myself.
Monday, March 8
Ometepe was beautiful. It took five hours to get there. We had to take a bus and a ferry, but it was worth it. We had planned on doing some adventurous things like hiking, biking, kayaking, etc., but that did not happen. We decided to relax; I was very happy about that decision.
We stayed in two different hostels. The first night we saw a beautiful sunset and took a walk through the little town. The second night we were at Finca Magdelena. B-E-Autiful. Everything is cheap, so we lived it up and ate some really good food, walked to a rocky beach, and played cards all night while staring at the two volcanoes in the short distance.
It took a lot of energy to get everywhere, but I slept in this morning until 7 a.m. I feel rested and ready to start my last two weeks of class.
Love and Peace
Wednesday, March 10
Feliz Cumpleanos Gregorio!
Greg had his 21st birthday on Monday! Everyone made it very special for him.
The day started when Roberto and Yasert (I found out it is spelled Jasser), played a wake-up and birthday song outside of Greg’s door. Jasser played the marimba and Roberto played a ukulele.
After class, I took Greg out to Todoasada for dinner. Todoasada is this great “hole in the wall” restaurant that’s only three blocks from our house, with the most delicious meat and ensalada! It is one of our favorite places in Managua to eat.
After dinner, Greg and I walked back home, and we had a fiesta. There was cake, very loud music, many speeches, toasts, singing, and laughter. Then on Tuesday, Griselda made a special dinner in honor of Greg’s birthday.
Nicas love to celebrate life!
Friday, March 12
Gracias a Dios es Viernes
Out of all the Gringo (name for Americans) restaurants to have, Managua has TGI Fridays. We needed a break from the culture immersion and were in serious need of a night out; we headed to TGIF for dessert.
While devouring our scrumptious dessert, we realized what a family we have become. It’s amazing how we never run out of things to talk about. This year, they decided to do things a bit differently and have us all live together in one house. The first month it was a bit difficult because all you want to do is experience the culture without any hindrances. Living with three other North Americans hinders that a bit.
Now, during the second month, we are extremely grateful to have each other. Living in a culture that has virtually no similarities to your usual one definitely has its ups and downs. Having others to “talk through” the frustrations and funny moments is extremely important in this context. Even though we all come from different worlds, we all have the same thing in common: everything here is different.
I am grateful for my roommates here, and I am grateful for this opportunity to be stretched.
Love and Peace
Tuesday, March 16
The Nehemiah Center is where I spend most of my time. It is an organization that contains multiple non-profits that are working to rebuild the walls of Nicaragua. Nicaragua has had many natural disasters, wars, and political instability. The organizations within the center work in various cities in Nicaragua to train the leaders with a biblical worldview, help communities see what potential they have, and aid them along in the process.
Tomorrow I am having my last day of class; I will be taking my Spanish final, which should take me three hours to complete! We had a meeting this week to finalize my internship plans. I will start it after spring break.
I have a couple main objectives during my seven-week internship:
1. To work closely with the Nehemiah Center staff on materials in support of the work being done on HIV/AIDS and domestic violence. This will include promotional materials, which will be used to attract donors, and articles that can be used in publications.
2. To pursue an independent study on the issue of sex trafficking in Nicaragua. I will do research on the topic and summarize my findings.
3. Work on the promotion of the Trinity Semester in Nicaragua program. This includes coming up with creative strategies, gathering personal testimonies, rewriting promotional materials, etc.
Next week is Spring Break. My brother and sister-in-law, Vince and Lauren, are heading down to Nicaragua. Greg and I will be spending the week in San Juan Del Sur with them. I am really looking forward to relaxing and seeing some family!
Love and Peace
Friday, March 19
Buen Trato, Cada Rato
Yesterday I went up to Chinandega, about 2 ½ hours north, for the day. I went with an organization that I will be working with for the next seven weeks.
We visited a couple of secondary schools, 7-12th graders, to talk to them about domestic violence. We gave them a vaccination against abuse, the vaccine was a lollipop. The students’ faces were filled with relief; they thought we were actually going to give them a shot!
Along with the lollipop, we gave them a bookmark. The bookmark had a white heart where the students would put their fingerprint. This was their pledge that they would not be a violent person and they would treat people with respect.
The organization is called Buen Trato Cada Rato. They are working to prevent domestic violence before it becomes a huge problem. The Nehemiah Center also has many programs that try to prevent epidemics. I think that is a good thing to do, instead of waiting to act until it becomes a big problem.
I’M VERY EXCITED BECAUSE I’M ON SPRING BREAK!
Friday, March 26
San Juan Surf
This week my brother and sister-in-law came out to visit for spring break. We headed out to the Pacific Coast with the intent of surfing and relaxing on the beach every day. I am happy to report that that is exactly what we did.
Although my previous attempt to surf failed, this one did not. I got up multiple times and can’t wait till the next time I get to ride the waves.
We rented a beautiful house that was only a five minute or less drive to the beach. Overall, the week was spectacular; we surfed, talked, relaxed, ate, and played cards. I feel re-energized now. God has been showing me a lot, and I am excited to see what else he has in store for the next seven weeks of my internship.
Love and Peace
April 1, 2010
This week was the first week of my internship. This week is also Holy Week, which means that almost every person in Managua doesn’t go to work and heads to the beach. As the week progressed, buses filled with people leaving the city, stores closed down, and buses stopped running. We still came to the Nehemiah Center everyday because, for us, there was work that needed to be done.
Tonight we are heading to Leon, where Roberto and Grieselda actually live, to see the festivities for Holy Friday. We are going to stay the night at Roberto’s parents’ house, and tomorrow go out and see the city and watch the ceremonies late into the night.
I’ll miss you all on Easter Sunday, because that day is not celebrated like we do; the big celebrations are today (Thursday) and Friday. One lady here explained it as being kind of “anti-climactic.”
I will be celebrating Sunday, though, because Jesus Christ came to the earth for the least of these, and he came to pay for our sins so that if we confess them and live for him we will spend eternity with him. I praise him for his sacrifice and for the miracle of his resurrection, because he is ALIVE and living within us today.
Fuimos a Leon
April 5, 2010
In all of Nicaragua, Leon is the only city that has a sight like this. On Good Friday the people fill the streets to watch their friends and family make artwork about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They make this artwork out of wood shavings, dirt, corn, rice, and beans. There is no music or dancing because they see this as a holy day, a day to remember the suffering that happened.
The artwork is vibrant in color, each one displaying a tribute to Jesus Christ. Along with the artwork, on the streets there are many people cooking and selling food. The most common thing was fried chicken and French fries.
This weekend we also got to see Roberto and Griselda’s house. They live in a rural area outside of the city. The property they live on holds all of Griselda’s family. As each one gets married, they either add on a room to the house or build one right beside it. Roberto kept making jokes about how it is actually an empire of Griselda’s family. Her family included grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, and sisters. When a man gets married, it’s a custom to live with the girl’s family. When they have saved enough money, they get permission from the eldest in the family to own part of the property and build a house. Roberto and Griselda built their home only a year and a half ago.
Roberto and Griselda stayed in Leon for another day, but Greg, Tim, and I returned home on Saturday morning. We took this opportunity to cook some familiar food. We chose Chicago Style hot dogs for lunch and French toast for dinner. It was a good day.
En Dios Confio
April 10, 2010
As far as our internships go, everyone but me is doing a film. This week, Greg, Sam, and Tim each left to begin filming in different Nicaraguan communities. They are each gone for a different amount of time. The organizations I am writing for are based in Managua, so I have been here all week by myself. At times I was a bit lonely, because I am used to always being in a group of four. I tried to make the best of my time, though.
It was one of the first times I’ve felt alone here, which, if you have ever experienced it, is not a great feeling. But, I knew that God has purpose in everything he does, so I trusted that He was teaching me something through this. I don't know if I learned anything new, but I really had to rely on Christ to be my comforter, instead of people. I was encouraged because, with a shift in my attitude, my time alone did not have to be boredom; I used it to praise him; to make a plan of things to do and go out and do them; I used it to reflect, and read a lot.
I posted a while ago about not knowing how to love people the way Christ does and that I was going to try and figure that out. Well, I have not come to a complete conclusion, but I have been reading two books that have completely challenged my thinking and I highly recommend them. One is When Helping Hurts, the other is Poverty Alleviation. If you are interested in helping anyone at all, I suggest you read these first.
April 15, 2010
Catching a taxi is a fairly easy thing to do in Managua, considering that every minute about 10 stop and try to get you in their car. The hard part comes when trying to tell them where to go...They don’t have street names or addresses!
An address would be, for example, turn left at the coconut tree and go three blocks in the direction of the lake. If the taxi driver doesn’t know where THE coconut tree is you will have to get a different driver who knows. To get home this is what I tell them:
Las Brissas, tres cuadras pasado el Hospital Lenin Fronsseca. Una derecha y una izquierda.
I live in Las Brissas, three blocks past Lenin Fronsseca Hospital, take a right, and then a left.
Sam came home for the week, so we decided to go to an Art Cafe. The guide book said there was supposed to be open mic nights on Wednesdays. Turns out, the entertainment was Star Trek in Spanish, and after that, really loud Hispanic ’80s music with outrageous music videos. We had a good time.
This morning Sam and I caught a lizard with a blue tail.
Monday, April 19
For the first time in four months the clouds released their moisture into the Pacific Nicaraguan Coast on Saturday! We happened to be in Masaya visiting a famous market known for their art work, Artesanía.
The Artesanía is all handcrafted pottery, leather products, and paintings; they are very beautiful. But of course, I bought two pairs of wooden earrings. After the market, we went to a restaurant and ate a meal for $2.
Thanks to Amanda Cleary, I finished my first writing project for the Nehemiah Center today. I learned a lot through writing that one story, and I look forward to writing my next assignments.
Wednesday, I will be going to Leon for two days to gather testimonials from the people impacted by the domestic violence and HIV/AIDS programs.
Sandalias de Cebra
Saturday, April 24
Leon is one of my favorite places in Nicaragua. The people are friendly, the streets are clean, the architecture is interesting, and second-hand American clothing boutiques are everywhere. I was able to get about six interviews in two days, and a new pair of Roxy flip-flops. It was a nice change of pace and faces.
Pictured are Alma, Lourdes, and Rakel. Alma has been my translator and cultural bridge in my internship, and my first project was to write a story on her to help increase her funding. Lourdes runs the Buen Trato program, and Rakel runs the HIV/AIDS program.
Alma, Lourdes, Rakel and I met with the leaders who are running these programs in their churches. We were able to hear about how their experiences were going, how the knowledge they are learning is changing their lives and the surrounding communities, what challenges they are facing, and what they envision for the future.
I love being able to go into peoples’ homes and churches and see how God is moving in Nicaragua; when you only walk down the streets and play at the beach, you miss out on the real heart of this place. They are a people of passion, eager to learn, and ready to sacrifice their desires for Christ’s. They are a nation in the process of transformation, and I feel blessed to be here.
Tesoros de Dios
Wednesday, April 28
Within these walls is where society’s ‘least of these’ are considered Treasures of Christ. At Tesoros de Dios the children cared for range from having dyslexia to severe cerebral palsy. It is on those mats the children receive physical therapy, and outside of the center they participate in horse therapy. Along with therapy, they are provided with various learning opportunities, such as computer skills.
The organization is run by pure passion, surviving on the little donations they get to pay bills and keep the place running comfortably for the children they serve. Today I had the chance to go to the center, I felt the joy the workers had, and the smiles on the children’s faces reassured me that Tesoros was doing a great work for Christ’s kingdom.
Trece Dias Mas
Saturday, May 1
With thirteen days left and a deadline in sight for our final projects, the four of us have been hard at work each day. We have been at the Nehemiah Center from about 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday-Sunday, and sometimes even later. With the rainy season here, it is still very hot and now humid, but when it rains it cools everything down for a little while.
This week I had the opportunity to get some experience in the writing of grant proposals. They were writing a grant proposal to get funding to introduce a new crop in a rural area, which will dramatically improve the nutrition of the children. I tried to sit and absorb everything they were doing. This is one of the reasons doing a semester abroad is so great, because you do not get learning experiences like that in a classroom.
This week we did take a break for some fun. There is a famous Nicaraguan skateboarder whose video premier we went to. That was a pretty cool thing to be at and we were invited to the after party because apparently we have "connections," whatever that means.
At the current moment I am quite exhausted because I waited for my bus to come for 1 1/2 hours and it never did; I ended up taking a taxi to get to the Nehemiah Center and luckily got here right before the rain began.
Thursday, May 6
With only eight days left there are certain things I am looking forward to that I have not had the comfort of for the past couple of months:
- Getting my hair and nails done
- Mexican Food
- Flammin' Hot Cheetos
- Sleeping with warm blankets
- Driving my car
- Shopping at Marshalls
- Going to church
- Not sweating
- Using a washing machine and dryer
- The comfort of familiar things
There are also things that I am going to miss about Nicaragua...
- Seeing mountains, lakes, and volcanoes whenever I walk outside
- The people
- Taking weekend vacations to remote places
- Buying Mango de rossas on the street
- Buying amazing sugar bread things in the mornings
- My internship
- Being sun-kissed
- Going to the movie theater for less than $3
- Taking naps in hammocks
- The Kodak-ness of this place
The great thing about both of these places is that both have a piece of my heart.
Monday, May 10
Last night, Greg and I decided to take a break from the non-stop work and visit one of our favorite places: Mason Sur. Not only do they have great Margarita pizza, but the view is amazing, especially at sunset. It overlooks a laguna crater and gives you a view of the whole city, including the giant Lake Managua, the volcano, and some mountains.
After that, I went home to wash some laundry in the washing sink, for what I think is going to be the last time hand-washing my clothes for a while.
As for today, all my work is done! Today at 3:30 p.m. we are going to present our work to the staff at the Nehemiah Center. After, we are going to go out for dinner with Iskra, our go-to person, our host family, and Professor Dan for a final celebration of our time here.
The next three days we are going to do some final traveling and try to visit four different cities. This is what we are thinking...
Tuesday=Granada: See the city, eat at restaurants, and either go zip-lining or do a tour of islands
Wednesday=Matagalpa: Explore, eat, and see what there is to do
Thursday=Jinotepe/Masaya: Explore Jinotepe and eat lunch at this Chinese restaurant (one of my many moments of culture shock and awkwardness, a Chinese restaurant where they speak Spanish). Then, head to Masaya to explore, eat dinner, and do the Mount Masaya hike (which includes a cave tour)!
Somewhere in there, I am going to pack and be ready to take my flight back to busy Chicago by Friday morning.
Gracias a todos
Tuesday, May 18
I want to say thank you for all of your support while I took an adventure that God brought me to. On this semester abroad, I knew that God was going to open my eyes to things I never knew. And, it was during these four months I gained a better grasp as to what it means to love people the way Christ does. I can't tell you everything, but I will tell you some of the lessons I learned...
Many times when we want to help others in need we treat them as though they are in need of immediate relief, like clothing, money, food, etc. But really, these people are not in a life threatening situation; they should not be treated like they just survived an earthquake in Haiti. What they need is going to take more of a sacrifice on our part; they need a long term commitment of persons who are going to walk them through healing, help them find confidence, and challenge them to do things for themselves that they are able to.
An example of this is a question that I always struggled with; whether or not to give people on the streets money or food. I learned and I can confidently say that giving money or food to a person on the street is not helping them, it is only enabling them to stay where they are at. A better option would be to point them to an organization that is equipped to really help them out of their situation. If you want to commit to helping these people, then join in on an effort that God is already blessing by donating your time or money to those who have a grasp and a plan to treat the root causes of the situation.
With that said, make sure to take a closer look at where you are putting your money and time. It is a good idea to ask these questions: How much money is the organization actually using on those in need? How does the organization measure its success? Are the missionaries you are supporting being responsible and faithful with the money you are giving them? Is sending your children on an expensive mission trip the best way to help those in need with your money?
I want to challenge you, as I have been, to ask these important questions. To hear the stories of those who have been helped from mission organizations. To read books from and talk with those who are experienced in the field of poverty alleviation.
When I first began learning about these things, I almost felt discouraged to help and leery of doing something wrong. But, instead of leaving it at that, I searched deeper and did my research. There are many ways that I have changed my approach to serving and loving others, and I found that there is a deep need for me to be giving more of my time and money, I just need to make sure I am smart about how I am doing that.