Providing relief to the poor, the sick or those who suffer in other ways is noble and appropriate at times but it shouldn’t be the major focus. Focus should be sustainable development.
I believe sustainable development starts from the recipient. If they can’t be bothered about your solution or do not even realize they have a problem, your plan is doomed. An analysis of level of awareness of problem is neccessary. If there isn’t any, create it, if you can’t, dump your noble efforts and go somewhere else or do something else. Don’t take it personal- you’re a good person!
There’s a story of church folks who helped a widow move in. They went on to arrange her kitchen for her, it took them 1hr. It took her 8hrs to undo what they had done after they left. If only they had asked first! There’s another story of some good decent people who were concerned about the women of a certain village walking about with breasts bared. They donated t-shirts to all the women only to wake up tomorrow to see every donated t with two holes at convenient positions!
Yes if you give a man a fish, you only feed him for a day. But before you teach him how to fish consider this: Just because the man likes eating fish, does it mean he likes fishing fish? You may teach him to fish and be annoyed when he keeps coming to you for fish. A skill without an internal motivation to use it except hunger is useless. This is why the traditional aid model fails time and time again. It tries to prescribe developmental assistance to societies without diagnosis.
My model is social entrepreneurship. My targets are not beneficiaries, they are clients. I don’t run non profits, I run businesses. Our job is to make developmental objectives profitable. The process is driven by our clients. If we fail them we make a loss, not merely a donor agency’s money!