Follow us by email

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Poverty affects the mind as much as the body

New research from the International Food Policy Research Institute shows that people’s aspirations are closely tied to their present well-being. We need look no further than our own lives to know that this is true.

Our aspirations, or lack there of, influence the decisions we make on a daily basis, as well as those that shape our future.

If we constantly face extreme challenges, such as those faced by people who live in poverty, poor health, and uncertainty, it can be difficult to make good decisions, let alone seek out help or support, even if it is readily available.

The most vulnerable in our world – women, rural families, and those living in areas of instability caused by conflict or climate change – live in extremely challenging situations, and as a result, often believe that they have little control their own well-being.

In essence, poverty victimizes people not only in their daily lives, but in their minds as well, as it crushes any aspirations for a better life. Poverty is perpetuated when people lose hope.

Families, for example, often need help and encouragement in order to see the opportunities available to them. They need help with nurturing their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a better future.

It is not that these families do not aspire to a better life, it just that after so many years of disappointment and hardship it can be hard to look beyond trying to find the next meal.

In Cambodia, HOPE International Development Agency seeks out families living on the margins of society, literally at the edge of the jungle, visiting them week after week in an effort to convince them that a better life is possible.

In Ethiopia, part of our work is to show families and community leaders that we are committed to them, and will help them envision a better life and then make it happen, together.

Helping families and communities aspire to be free from poverty is as important as the work of helping them gain access to clean water, grow more food, receive an education, improve their health, and generate a sustainable income.

The goal is to free people from poverty, both in their everyday lives and in their minds. A body free from poverty is a healthy body. A mind free from poverty is a mind that can aspire to a way of life that remains free from poverty.