International (MNN) — October 17 traditionally marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
The United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki Moon released an address stressing solutions rather than distressing over the problems. Acknowledging the scope, he said there are more than a billion people around the world who live in poverty and are denied their rights to food, education, and health care.
In his remarks, Ban Ki Moon said, "Poverty is easy to denounce but difficult to combat. Those suffering from hunger, want, and indignity need more than sympathetic words; they need concrete support."
Worldwide Christian Schools President Scott Vanderkooy says they're part of the solution. "From our perspective, poverty is often a mindset that transfers from one generation to another. Changing this mindset is really difficult."
That's especially true in a time when economic conditions are creating a whole new class of poor around the world. In his address, Ban Ki Moon urged the countries " to provide the poor with access to social services, income security, decent work, and social protection. Only then can we build stronger and more prosperous societies–not by balancing budgets at the expense of the poor. "
Vanderkooy notes that "handouts help an immediate problem, but they don't solve poverty." However, sometimes conquering it feels like an uphill battle. "Poverty isn't because people want to be poor, but oftentimes poverty exists because of systems that are built up around it."
In developing nations, that's especially true. Class systems reinforce the mindset. Education has traditionally been the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, but sometimes, says Vanderkooy, it's part of the problem. "Too often, in many parts of the world, education simply props up a system that keeps certain classes down."
The key, he says, is the KIND of education. "I think it's important for people to support education that renews hope for people of poverty through a teacher letting a child know that they can be different than their parents were."
Worldwide Christian Schools' mission is to work through indigenous-led organizations to achieve their goals of developing Christian schools. They focus on areas in the developing world where there are either no other options for education, or schooling has become unaffordable for families from the lowest economic levels.
"There are a lot of different types of poverty. There's spiritual poverty, as well," explains Vanderkooy. "The projects of Worldwide Christians Schools strive to introduce children to the God who loves them," and that makes all the difference in the world.
Partner projects are ongoing in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, India, Uganda, Zambia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, Kenya, Honduras, and most recently, work has begun in Burma.
For just over a dollar a day, sponsors can help cover the cost of education for a child who cannot afford tuition, including textbooks, desks, uniforms, and school lunch. Helping a child attend a quality, Christ-centered school gives them an opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty, and the chance to learn about God's love for them. "That alone gives a child tremendous hope for tomorrow so they're not bound by the past. Because there's a God that truly loves them and sent His Son to die for them, that gives you a whole new perspective, a whole new worldview."
Sometimes, it means more than giving money. School builders fund school construction projects in the areas they are needed most, primarily in the developing world. When a school is eligible, WWCS sends a Worldwide HANDS team made up of volunteers from North America that build a school, playground, or related educational structure to further the goals of community transformation.
Each project is one step closer to ending physical and spiritual poverty for good. If you want to help, connect with Worldwide Christian Schools through our Featured Links Section.