- Compassion International Blog - http://blog.compassion.com -

You Are Not Helpless, You Are Empowered

poverty-tourism Recently a very well-known Mommy Blogger traveled to Bangladesh with a non-profit organization dedicated to child and maternal health.

Immediately following her first post from the developing country, the UK news publication The Guardian ran an article [3] labeling her trip another example of “poverty tourism” in which “westerners [are] flown to dirt-poor regions to solemnly observe the impoverished in their natural habitats.”

The article noted that what often happens with blogging trips is that the bloggers write lengthy, gut-wrenching, emotion-filled posts that motivate readers to act, but then offer little tangible way to take action other than simply signing a petition.

“Where blogger-engagement projects often fall down is in closing the deal: having aroused the empathy of an engaged audience, they fail to provide something potent for people to do next.

“If you’ve just read a post about children working 14 hours a day scavenging material from towering heaps of putrefied waste, you probably want to do something more effective than signing a petition or sending an email to your elected representative; but frequently, this is all that’s on offer.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I doubt there’s much that’s more frustrating than getting your emotions all stirred up, only to be left helpless with no way to do anything about what you’ve just learned.

You should know that at Compassion we don’t want you to feel helpless — we’d rather you feel empowered. We don’t want you to feel discouraged, but encouraged that you are able to make a difference. And not just a small one. That’s why we focus on offering you so many different ways to get involved [4].

As our President and CEO, Wess Stafford, often says, there are two main reasons why people do not take action:

  1. They don’t know what to do.
  2. They don’t know whom to trust.

We want to be the answer to both of those questions.

One way we do this is to offer trips to see our work around the world. Our sponsor tours, vision trips and blogging trips, however, are all carefully and strategically designed to empower participants [5], not incapacitate them.

For the record, we refuse to engage in anything even remotely resembling poverty tourism. While other organizations may ask you to simply sign a petition, we want more from you … much more. We want your passion. We want your heart. We want your deep, God-given desire to change the world. And we promise not to leave you helpless.

We’ve found that one of Satan’s favorite tactics is to make you feel impotent. To get you to believe that no matter what you do, it won’t make a difference.

It’s our goal to eradicate that feeling. How are we doing?