Most of us feel compelled to do something about global poverty. When we do, we inject ourselves, our efforts, and our programs into a community’s on-going process of economic development. This process is: Complex, Long-term, Community Specific, and (should be) Locally-Driven.
We, on the other hand, as outsiders, are: Imperfectly Informed, Culturally and Geographically Distant, and engaged for relatively Short-Duration.
When you mix the realities of development with our limitations, it’s fair to ask “Is it still possible to make a responsible and effective difference?” Yes. However, it is going to require us to become more mindful.
We want to ignite a more mindful movement to end global poverty. We believe the Two Dollar Challenge is a good place to start. Why?
1. The Two Dollar Challenge is first and foremost an educational exercise.
The Two Dollar Challenge succeeds at raising funds and awareness about global poverty. However, the momentum that fuels this movement is its unparalleled ability to engender empathy and humility among its participants.
2. The Two Dollar Challenge addresses multiple aspects of poverty.
Participants are asked to go beyond the constraint of living on $2 per day for food and hygiene products. Among other rules, participants are asked to build makeshift shelters on campus, to choose a spigot on campus as the one and only place for participants to gain access to water, and to boil water before consuming it. Through these constraints (and others) we create interdependence among the participants. Building shelters, gaining reliable access to water, and being able to make bulk purchases at the grocery store requires cooperation. By creating the need for cooperation, we build a community.
3. We question ourselves and the effectiveness of our efforts.
With our community in place, we have a space where participants find the comfort to honestly ask themselves “why am I here?” and “what do I hope to accomplish?” They also find the confidence to challenge each other’s assumptions and preconceived notions regarding global poverty. Every discussion at the shelters (which we have many) is an opportunity to probe deeper into the complexity of the process of economic development and our role (if any) in that process.
Each year the Two Dollar Challenge graduates a cohort of participants steeped in critical thinking skills, highly attuned to the possible inadequacies of their efforts to take on global poverty, and humbled by their participation.
We believe that this is a good starting point for anyone deciding to take on global poverty.
If you do too, then let’s Get Started!