Food distribution

Giving Without Creating Dependency

Jul 24, 2020

When generous donors gave Hope In View money for COVID relief last spring, we tried an experiment. Could Ethiopians themselves raise money for COVID relief to match what we would give them?

Hope In View gave three matching grants, each for $5000, to three organizations in different geographic areas. Each had a deadline of about 1 month out. Two were to rural areas, where $1/day farmers were beginning to worry about their friends who had moved to the cities. Many were day laborers, and day labor jobs largely vanished in April and May. Within a week or two, their children were starving, while the farmers still had food. The other grant went to both rural and urban churches.

To everyone’s amazement, Ethiopians in these three areas raised a total of $12408 to add to our grants. For all three organizations, this was unprecedented. 

The leaders of these organizations made careful plans to distribute the money, or rather, the grain and oil that the money could buy wholesale, to the poorest of the poor. These were often not church members. These were sometimes not even in the areas of the churches that had contributed. Together they gave food that would last around a month to 965 families consisting of 5469 individuals. For many of these, this was a life-saving gift. 

Given that the average contributor to this match probably had an income of $2/day or less, this represents enormous generosity on the part of our Ethiopian brothers and sisters. 

Though matching grants have not been appropriate in all areas in which we work, clearly they do represent one way of giving to people in need that does not increase dependency. May generous hearts in the West give wisely so as to showcase the dignity and unselfishness of our African brothers and sisters!