God Bless You, Here’s … a Chicken?

When you give hard-earned dollars to a charity, don’t you want to know that your contribution is worthwhile? I certainly do. If a group needs to raise $500, and $800 has already come in, why should I donate to that? It’s not needed.

My reasoning isn’t unique, and it’s probably why many charities offer the ultimate in practical, helpful gifts for those in developing countries: animals. Who doesn’t feel good when knowing that they’re donating a cow to an impoverished family — why, it can provide them with milk for years! A flock of chickens can provide eggs! Perhaps an animal or two could even help a family start a small business and lift themselves out of poverty. Oh, the possibilities! It’s so … American.

Only, maybe it’s not as great as it seems. I recently read an article suggesting that animal gifts might actually be a bad thing for the very people we’re trying to help. It brings up things I’d actually not considered: these donated animals require food, shelter, and vet care – things the very poor may not have. Some of the animals can create a disease risk, and the land they take up can reduce the amount of farming land available to people who sorely need it.

In the interest of full disclosure, the accusations are made by “World Land Trust and Animal Aid.” When I google them, I can only find this organization inĀ  conversations about this article. They may be a totally off-the-wall group. And Christian Aid, one of the charities involved in gifting animals, insists that they only place donated animals in villages with the resources to care for them. So I can’t vouch for how big a problem this actually is.

But it does make me think about how we give. Giving is always a step of faith — I think about this when I send in $20 to buy a gift for one of the girls we sponsor. How does this work? Does it create jealousy and hard feelings when one child is given a new outfit from her sponsors, and others aren’t? If we sponsor a Bible student, what happens to the others in the pool awaiting sponsors? Do they feel slighted? Do some drop out altogether? I suppose we have to pray over how to give and let God determine the outcomes in a decidedly less-than-perfect world.

In the meantime, enjoy a glass of milk – and be grateful you’re not beholden to a rich American to supply the cow that gives it.

6 thoughts on “God Bless You, Here’s … a Chicken?

  1. I am thankful that I can make my own way in life and do not need to depend on charity to provide for me. I have been blessed but I also have made some wise decisions to be in the place I am today.

  2. I think that sometimes charity does do more harm than good. It is important to keep in mind when trying to help others that Charity means giving someone what they NEED as opposed to what you wants them to have. While giving animals could help, if the people are not equipped to feed and care for themselves then giving them livestock only adds to the burden.

  3. My dad was a pastor, and he always asked a missionary on the field where money was most needed, and for what. Thanks to my dad, we’ve also been blessed with friendships with pastors from Guatemala (in particular), and if we ask, they will actually tell us who needs what in their community. We know people who have donated chickens and pigs – but we know others who have donated school fees, or money for a sewing machine. Seeing firsthand the results just a bit of extra income makes for a family is incredible – especially when the recipients have no idea the person God has used to give.

  4. NONONONOONONONOOO! The animals will be killed or abused where they go. They should not be bred to be abused and sent overseas to places that have no shelter or food for the animals! Also in the picture you can tell the chickens are in bad conditions.

  5. Living in a third world country I saw first hand how little often gets to those in need. Thousands are spent on vehicles (often inappropriate to the geography) and in housing senior expatriate staff members. I also learned first-hand the difference between “sustainable” and unsustainable aid. Sustainable is a safe water supply with very simple technology. Unsustainable is a Green House requiring parts from 3 different countries. (Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it.) Sustainable should be sending folks off to be trained, until they return home and ditch the old job to make more with the music equipment they bought in the States. Simple is best–chickens or goats–not cows. Heirloom seeds, not hybrids except those for draught resistant staple food crops.

  6. Have you seen the movie, “The Soloist”? It has an interesting perspective showing how the very best intentions can go awry if you try to help someone without truly understanding their needs.

Comments are closed.