What happens when you just give poor people money?
It’s funny how simple questions like this can link up with other questions and reflections, and then crossover with ideas that lead to a deeper mindfulness and awareness about the original question.
Last night I was casually reading multiple FB posts related to Thanksgiving.
I’m not American but after more than 30 years of friendship with families from the USA I do appreciate how significant and important this particular celebration is. As I know it, the origins and the celebration of this day are focused getting the extended family together to share bountiful good foods and giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and of the preceding year.
Whilst I was reading these posts I was also listening to a podcast that a good friend had sent me earlier yesterday.
Because of my family name and also my role as CAS workshop leader he thought I’d be interested in news report from Planet Money (pun intended). This particular podcast was about a program called GiveDirectly.
I listened to reporter David Kestenbaum’s summation : http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/10/25/240590433/what-happens-when-you-just-give-money-to-poor-people . And I certainly became very interested in the findings of the report.
Kestenbaum was following up an earlier article about GiveDirectly and the efforts of the founders to help poor people in the developing world in an ‘unusual’way : by sending them money with no strings attached.
Ironically we often we have our hesitations and suspicions about giving money directly to those in need. According to the findings of this new report those doubts might be unfounded.
“There is this growing realization that being poor is really stressful, and that that can make it hard to organize your life and plan and make good decisions……If one of the things that giving people wealth is doing is enabling them to feel more sane and more in control of their life, that could ultimately be one of the more important things.” Paul Niehaus, co-founder GiveDirectly
I thought more about the FB posts that I had been reading earlier.
Giving thanks after all might be best celebrated by simply “giving”.