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Good development takes time nepal 23 IMG 3276

Real change takes time

At Tearfund, we’ve always believed that broken relationships – with God, ourselves, others and creation – are the root cause of poverty. Our work with communities facing poverty and injustice must be understood as part of God’s wider work of restoration and healing.

Quick vs long-term fixes

Poverty is a complex issue and it requires a comprehensive approach that addresses its root causes. This means that our responses to poverty will also be very complex and broad-ranging.

Short-term interventions, like food aid and temporary shelter after a natural disaster, are important in providing immediate relief to those in need, but alone, they’re not sufficient to bring about lasting change.

Approaching development holistically

That’s why we take a holistic, long-term approach to tackling poverty, recognising that needs are complex and interrelated. Here are four principles we abide by:

Principle #1 - Participation

We listen to the voices of people who are impacted by poverty. Through our local partners, we support grassroots initiatives where community members, especially those most impacted by poverty and marginalisation, participate at every level. This means investing in community-based initiatives that engage community members in the decision-making process, empowering them to take ownership of their own development, and building their confidence to advocate for themselves.

Principle #2 - Sustainability

We’re focused on the root causes of poverty, and committed to long-term transformation. We believe the most effective way to reach this is through community-led development initiatives. We work in partnership with locally-based Christian agencies who understand the needs of their communities, and are in the best position to develop responses that are relevant and sustainable.

Helping communities deal with underlying issues is much more likely to really transform lives, not just make them a bit better for the time being. To make a real and lasting difference, we choose to invest in projects that are designed to be sustainable over the long term even if that means we have to wait for a few years until we see results.

Page Partnership Helen Fernandes Se Asian Partners
Tearfund's Helen Fernandes (second from right) participates in a capacity building workshop with our South East Asian partners.

Principle #3 - Empowerment

Nurture faith. The relentless cycle of poverty can destroy faith, destroy hope. “Empowerment” is another important development concept. When people participate in development activities that work, they increase their faith in themselves, in their community and in their ability to help drive positive change.

Principle #4 - Transformation

Go for total transformation! That means change in all parts of a person’s life, and in the whole community. It means changing things for people most impacted by poverty and marginalisation, and also for those who hold power. It means seeking restoration of all those broken relationships and showing glimpses of what God’s Kingdom is all about, so that everyone has the opportunity to experience fullness of life.

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During a learning review run by Tearfund's partner PNL (Partnership for New Life), women in Southern Nepal map the networks which have helped them improve their quality of life.

Real change takes time

Community development takes time. Especially in the hard places. In over 50 years of working for holistic development, Tearfund and our local partners have seen time and time again that tackling poverty requires long-term, sustainable solutions more than quick fixes.

And that’s why we are constantly grateful for the longstanding work of our partner organisations. Tearfund partners with more than 50 organisations around the world, and 20 of these partnerships have been in place for 20 years or more. A further seven partnerships have been in place for 15 to 20 years.

Projects our supporters have helped to fund

When you give to Tearfund, your money is used to fund long-term sustainable projects that address the root causes of poverty. Here are some examples.

Projects that create sustainable communities focusing on building trust, fostering relationships, and creating a sense of belonging.

In the remote province of Papua, Indonesia, many young children are undernourished and suffer from preventable diseases. Tearfund’s partner Yasera facilitates a health and nutrition program which is seeing improved health among children. By working closely with local communities in the area, Yasera has grown relationships with families, equipping them with nutrition and hygiene education to keep their children strong.

Along with monthly weighing and immunisation sessions for under-fives, these initiatives are resulting in huge health improvements across the communities. Yasera works closely with local communities, and this network helps Yasera to build connections with families so that it can support them.

Projects that create spaces for individuals to voice their opinions, concerns and ideas so they can speak up for themselves and their communities.

Many of Tearfund’s partners have seen significant change in families and communities through Self-Help Group (SHGs), which empower people through social support, income-generation activities, training and education.

Samariya, Aruna, Sumitra and Nirja are members of a Self-Help Group for women set up by Tearfund’s partner the Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief (EFICOR) in Manikpur, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Before they got involved in the group, they say, “Our world was limited to the house only … preparing food, cleaning clothes, cleaning the house, feeding cattle and goats.”

By providing women with access to savings and loans, the groups are transforming lives, providing new opportunities in a community of belonging and empowerment. The women say that being in the group has broadened their horizons.

“It gave us confidence to speak, to know, to ask … It binds a group of women into one. We started laughing, expressing our thoughts. We started looking towards the future for our family and each other.”

Join us in bringing real change

The last few years have shown that the trajectory of global poverty is not set in stone. After decades of progress, the rates of global hunger and food insecurity are on the rise, driven by COVID, the climate crisis and conflict. At moments like this, the fight to end poverty can feel like one step forward, two steps back. And yet transformation still takes root – yes, slowly, but also surely – and lives are changed in meaningful, trajectory-shifting ways.

Bring hope to hard places. Become a Restorer today.

Join Restorers, our monthly giving community, and be part of a network of passionate Christians dedicated to renewal, transformation and the restoration of hope in hard places across the globe.

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