May 2, 2023|
When thinking about poverty, most people gravitate to material poverty – the lack of physical means to meet basic needs (food, drinking water, shelter, clothing, medicine, etc.). However, few realize that poverty is actually a multi-dimensional and complex issue that goes beyond just material needs and encompasses psychological, social, and spiritual components. Efforts to address poverty and restore dignity and hope to individuals and communities requires attention to each aspect for the change to be lasting.
Overall, poverty can be viewed as a lack of resources – material, cultural, or social – or a lack of access to them. Some associate poverty only with poor health, low levels of education or skills, lack of work, challenges with behavior, or improvidence, but it’s much more complex and can be long-lasting. Unlike the temporary nature of cyclical poverty, widespread or “collective” poverty involves a relatively permanent lack of access to basic resources, and it often persists from generation to generation.
Systemic injustice has played a major role in the poverty we see in South Africa today. Under the unjust system of apartheid, people were actively oppressed and denied access to quality education. Many were traumatized by enforced removals from their homes and communities and pushed to the outskirts of society. These actions have contributed to generational trauma which has severely influenced the consciousness of the oppressed people resulting in a sense and psyche of inferiority.
But this doesn’t have to be the future of this beautiful country and its people. We feel called into a mission together to address all dimensions of poverty and injustice in holistic ways – through economic empowerment, social development and spiritual formation.
The injustices of apartheid and the resulting lack of access to resources in South Africa has led to many being stuck in perpetual states of material poverty. Recognizing the importance of addressing this practical area of poverty, we offer trade skills training and hair salon training to prepare students to enter the workforce or pursue entrepreneurship, opening up opportunity & resources that may not have been available prior to entering our programs. We also dive into the basic skills needed for entry-level jobs like computer training, basic literacy, and financial education. By preparing students to produce value in their communities and re-discover their dignity, we aim to see communities transformed by people who have been transformed.
Psychological and Social Poverty
To address the psychological and social realms of poverty, we believe it’s crucial to dig into the way a person sees him or herself and bring healing to trauma. Our Life Directions course dives into self-awareness, how to process hurt and trauma, forgiveness, trust-building, and conflict resolution. The discussions and exercises in this course help to restore confidence and produce healthy individuals who can build healthy communities.
Most importantly, we seek to see true hope restored. Spiritual poverty exists as a result of broken relationships with our Creator, and we strive to help our students seek a personal relationship with Christ and build a strong Biblical foundation through our Faith Discovery course and Spiritual Formation programs. Understanding who God created them to be and realizing their value and identity in Christ helps to build a lasting foundation. We also pour into local church pastors and leaders to ensure our students have a healthy network of support in their local community after they graduate. For long-term impact, our graduates need a place to be discipled and shepherded as they deepen their relationship with God and grow roots in their community.
At Hope Africa Collective, we understand the need for a holistic approach to ending poverty & injustice and its effects on individuals and communities. Because our goal is to create change that lasts, we work to address all dimensions of poverty and believe the Gospel calls us to restore what has been distorted in society, not just spiritually but also materially.
We invite you to participate with us in what God is doing to champion justice and eliminate extreme poverty, in all its forms, in South Africa!
For more on the many dimensions of poverty and what Hope Africa Collective is doing to address them, check out this podcast with Hope Africa Collective Managing Director Brandon Weber: https://www.isiphambano.com/podcasts/stories-of-hope-hope-africa-collective
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