Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

In last week’s post, we talked about the complexities of poverty – the physical, emotional and spiritual elements that keep people trapped in the cycle. Understanding these complexities should cause us to take a second look at our approach to serving and helping others.

At Reach Youth Global, we are committed to not just helping people in the short-term, but to truly transforming communities from the inside out. We’re very careful and intentional with how we work and where we work to help accomplish this mission and truly make a difference. Here are three things that are core elements of what we do, no matter where in the world we are or what exactly we offer in each community:

1. We take a holistic approach.

Breaking the cycle of poverty is difficult because it requires multiple resources, lots of people with unique skills, and time. To truly move communities out of poverty, we have to address the many, many details that work together to hold people and communities back. For example, truly building an economy not only requires creating job opportunities through skills training and microfinance, but it requires sustainable electricity, transportation, communication tools – you get the picture.

Holistic solutions look like addressing the three different areas of poverty – physical, emotional and spiritual – and working to address the layers within each of those areas. At Reach Youth Global, everything we do has a physical, emotional and spiritual component. A great example is the Mashah Village, a center that cares for orphans by creating structured family units, providing food and access to medical care, offering onsite schools and education, and providing spiritual support through pastoral training and planting churches in communities to constantly be a beacon of hope in Christ. We also offer long-term solutions by helping to create jobs. Children at Mashah are developed as whole people, in their native culture, with the goal of preparing them to lead as adults.

2. We empower people to change their futures.

We have all heard the adage about teaching a man to fish. This is not just a lesson in sustainability, but also empowerment; it’s about giving people the resources they need to care for themselves rather than just taking care of people ourselves.

At Reach Youth Global, we support initiatives that equip children and youth to be healthy, productive, independent adults. While there’s absolutely a place to remove barriers and meet physical needs, we also focus on things such as education, nutrition and other initiatives that equip those we serve to meet their physical needs themselves. And beyond just physical needs, we offer empowering hope through evangelistic camps and sharing of the Gospel!

Not only is this the most effective way to break generational cycles of poverty, but this creates a sense of dignity and gives youth a voice, tackling the emotional weight of poverty and raising up future leaders who will change their own nations.

3. We make sure it’s community-owned.

It’s easy, with the best of intentions, to think sometimes that we know it all. That we, as outsiders, can come in and fix what is broken in communities. But no amount of resources can replace in-depth knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of cultures and communities. Too often our attempts to help actually hurt, as we disrupt positive cycles that exist or introduce things that are positive to us but destructive to the cultures or relationships of those we try to serve. That’s why it’s so important to us to go through community leaders to provide custom, tailored solutions to what they actually want and need. This is not just effective; it’s sustainable because the community feels invested in the effort and it brings dignity by replacing dependency with self-sufficiency and a hand out with a hand up.

At Reach Youth Global, we partner with organizations and ministries on the ground in the countries where we serve to facilitate our work. These organizations know the culture. They know the community happenings. They know specific needs. And they’re in it for the long haul. We are far more effective when we provide what we’re best at – funding, resources, knowledge and collaboration – to help them do what they’re best at: serving their communities!

As we work around the world, two things become obvious: 1) there is no cookie cutter solution to poverty – we must understand each community and their needs to find the best solutions, but 2) there are principles – holistic, community-owned, empowering principles – that work in any environment to truly dig into the roots of poverty and tear them out for good.

Learn how you can join us in breaking the cycle and transforming communities from the inside out.

Sal Sberna

Sal Sberna was Lead Pastor at The MET Church in Houston, Texas for 20 years. He retired on February 2015. He and Kristi Sberna have been married since 1981. They have two children, Salvatore and...more