By Tina Grear

 

 

When you come face to face with someone who lives in poverty, and when you realise that this person’s story is replicated countless times across a single country, it is easy to feel utterly helpless, and to ask:

  • What difference can we make when the scale of need is so vast?
  • What will our work achieve when the issues are so endemic?

Today I came close to that feeling of helplessness. At times, I felt close to tears.

We met Jose, a 65-year-old man who still works at several manual labour jobs so that he can provide for his daughter. Recent knee problems have meant he couldn’t work for several days. Without work, there is no income. As we stand in his humble home, its single room bare of furnishings, the fragility of his situation feels very real. 

As I’ve met Jose and others, I’ve felt humbled and helpless: so why don’t I feel like giving up? For me, there are three main reasons.  

First, I am inspired by the courage and dignity of all the individuals we meet. For them, there is no option but to keep going and to provide for their families. Despite pain and daily hardship, they have done this and keep doing it. Importantly, they tell us that the medicines we send mean they can carry on working. Another day with income means another day with food on the table. Every single person who’s been touched by our work is so grateful. When we have so much in the UK, this is really humbling.

The second reason is that we don’t do this alone. Our partnership with Food For The Poor (FFTP), and its in-country partner The Order of Malta, is vital.  Enrique, the order’s director, describes it as a chain of effort in which we are all links.  He thanked us for providing the link through IHP, beginning in Europe with our donor companies. His staff at the order and our colleagues at Food for the Poor are committed, purposeful and passionate. 

The third reason is personal. My Christian faith demands a response. God creates every person in his image: we all have equal worth, and we are called to be neighbours to those we meet. “As we do this to the least of them, we do this to Christ.”