Every knows that the principal thing lacking in the poor is the same all over the world. Its name is Money.
According to a recent New York Times Magazine, a group of relatively small-scale philanthropists working in a small town in a section of equatorial Africa called Siaya, was studying particularly vexing aspect of trying to find an efficient way of raising the living standards of the poor. They selected a group of the poorest family heads in Siaya, Kenya, and gave each one a cash gift of $500.
Professional philanthropists aware of the program predicted a disappointing result. The men getting the handout would be unable to resist the temptation to drink it all away until it was gone, or blow it on massive parties for the neighborhood.
The cynics, however, were wrong. By and large, the most popular investment made by those receiving the largesse was to buy a metal roof for their shacks replacing their thatched roofs — getting rid of a major hideout for vermin and thus disease. But, alas, the floors were still dirt and the hideouts for vermin, though reduced in number, were still pernicious.
The lesson to be learned there had already been taught, though perhaps not well remembered. It was an old-timer named Jesus of Nazareth who let us know that if we gave a pauper a fish he would eat for a day, but if you taught him how to fish he could eat for life.