Take a trip down memory lane and go back to your childhood days in elementary school. Remember how your teachers more often than not would always ask that one question on the first day of school? You know the question. C’mon. You know that question.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Perhaps year after year the answer to that question stayed the same. And perhaps today you are what you wanted to be. Or, maybe the answer to that question changed constantly – almost on an everyday basis. And today, you aren’t any of those things. Regardless, you were able to dream.

Now imagine not even being able to answer that question. Imagine not knowing how to dream. Today, there are millions of children and adults living in remote communities so deeply trapped in poverty that they don’t even know how to dream for their future. The unfortunate statistic that you’ve probably heard at least once before is that 1 out of every 5 people living in this world live on under $1.25 per day. To put that dollar amount into perspective, that number would barely buy you a small black coffee at your local coffee shop and it certainly would not buy you a small latte.

There is a faith-based nonprofit based in Atlanta, Georgia that is fighting that statistic. Rivers of the World (ROW) tackles those physical, mental, and spiritual global injustices by going into the remote areas to help anchor healthy, sustainable communities of faith. There are 6 Anchors ROW believes make up a healthy, sustainable community: water, sanitation and hygiene; food and agriculture; education and literacy; health and medical care; economic development; and spiritual vitality. A detailed and thorough assessment of the community addresses all six anchors to ensure the timeline for sustainability thus speaks to all six anchors. Through strategic partnerships and trusted relationships, ROW helps remote and impoverished communities isolate and solve their problems so that eventually they can thrive independently and sustainably.

Crucial to how ROW operates in its international development service work is adopting an asset-based approach (also known as asset-based community development or ABCD) as opposed to the traditional needs-based approach. The major difference is highlighting what the community and its members bring to the table instead of tending to what appears to be endless lists of problems. There is indeed a difference. The asset-based approach enables the community and its members to think bigger picture – to mobilize and empower them – whereas the needs-based approach keeps the community and its members stuck in survival mode.

ROW will never do for others what they can do for themselves, but will work in relationship and partnership based upon mutual love, grace, and respect. Although extreme poverty is unfortunately too common, Rivers of the World is doing what they can to fight it.

Image: Maggie Carruth

Learn. Connect. Act.
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From the Editor
At Conscious, we are inspired by stories that cause us to think differently and think big-picture and so we set out to tell stories with the help of leaders and influencers in the social good community. You can read more stories like this when you Sign-up for the Weekly and Subscribe to Conscious Magazine.