What Do the Poor Think About Poverty?

In the vast majority of cases, [upper-class, North American churches] describe poverty differently than the poor in low-income countries do. While poor people mention having a lack of material things, they tend to describe their condition in a far more psychological and social terms than our North American audiences. Poor people typically talk in terms of shame, inferiority, powerlessness, humiliation, fear, hopelessness, depression, social isolation, and voicelessness. North American audiences tend to emphasize a lack of material things such as food, money, clean water, medicine, housing, etc. As will be discussed further below, this mismatch between many outsiders’ perceptions of poverty and the perceptions of poor people themselves can have devastating consequences for poverty-alleviation efforts.

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts, 54

What do you think? Can just focusing on material problems actually hurt the poor? How?

About Nathan Hollenbeck

Nathan joined Coptic Orphans in 2006. It was his response to a call to help return Egypt’s hospitality to the Holy Family on behalf of Christ Emmanuel and the Theotokos, after they changed his own life as a youth. He has a passion to fulfill God’s command to “bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17, ESV)