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How cash grants restore dignity: a Christian response to crisis

Cash grants are making a difference and transforming the lives of the people we serve around the world.

Written by Rachael Adams | 05 Feb 2021

Photo credit: Jade Beakhouse/Tearfund

Cash grants have changed the way we serve some of the world’s most vulnerable people. It gives us an even greater opportunity to share God’s love with others. This is how:

People are powerful and capable. But when crises occur – such as cyclones, conflict or coronavirus – it can make people vulnerable, without food, clean water, shelter or heating, and relying on organisations such as Tearfund to survive

While providing families with these essentials is a lifeline, it isn’t always the most empowering way to help people. At Tearfund, we believe that every human being has been made in the image of God, and so we want to honour that. That’s why when we respond to disasters, we come alongside people and respect them as individuals – not assuming we always know what’s best for them, and their families.

This is where cash comes in

Cash grants empower people to decide their own priorities. They can use the money to pay for whatever they need most, whether it’s food, shelter, clothing, soap or medicines.

People know their own needs. With cash, they can meet them. It’s fast and direct – which, in the aftermath of a disaster, is essential to helping people rebuild their lives.

‘For me, cash grants is where some of Tearfund’s Christian distinctiveness shines out in the aid world. We see people as made in the image of God – invited, encouraged and empowered to make their own decisions,’ shares Marc Romyr Antoine, who oversees Tearfund’s work in Haiti.

‘Each family is different, so why should we assume that everyone needs exactly the same things? It is also a much more effective use of money as it means that people are not given items that they are not going to use.’

Giving cash grants also benefits the local economy as the money can be spent on local goods and services. This is especially helpful in the countries where we work, as the money is then used to support other families and businesses in the area, empowering them and helping them to thrive.

From left to right: Celimene, Filo and Clanise are just three of the many people we’ve been able to support through the use of cash grants. Find out how below. Photo credit: Carl Gesler St. Jean/Tearfund

Stories of transformation from Haiti

As part of our coronavirus prevention work in Haiti, we’re working alongside our local partner, Christian Community in Action Foundation (FOKA), to give cash grants to families in need. These families have been referred through local churches and partners.

Celimene* is a mother of eight who was in debt from school fees – trying to ensure her children had the opportunity to better themselves.

‘When I received the money, it was very helpful, because I did not have one gourde (one pound) left and I owed some money… I paid school fees and put the remainder in the business.’

Filo* is 62. He had to stop working once he became blind, and was worried about how he would provide for his family. ‘This money helped me a lot, because I am in a very difficult situation. That is why I think this is a good programme,’ he shares.

He’s also shared what little he has left over with other people in his community who are struggling: ‘I bought food with the money because I didn’t have any and I shared with other people. When you have what you need, share with other people because when you don’t have any, they are the ones who will give to you.’

Clanise* is in her eighties. All of her eight children are grown up, and rely on their work in the fields to earn money to survive. ‘Our survival in the family depends on our work in the field,’ she says. ‘The land does not produce much these days, we can spend two days without anything to eat.

‘This support represents a lot for us, and for me particularly it has helped me solve a lot of problems,’ shares Clanise.

Alongside these cash grants, Tearfund and FOKA have worked together to provide the families with tippy taps. These taps are made from several sticks, string and a container for water and are operated with a simple foot lever. It means that families can keep themselves safe from coronavirus and waterborne diseases such as cholera.

‘Since they built the tippy tap at the house, the children always wash their hands when they return home. Myself, I use it very often,’ says Celimene.

Finding freedom

Haiti is just one of the countries we’re working in where cash grants are making a huge difference in people’s lives. It’s not just giving them the power to invest in what they need to lift themselves out of poverty, but it’s making people feel valued, supported and empowered. And that makes all the difference.

‘We are so blessed to come alongside people like Celimene, Clanise and Filo to help them find their own solution to break free from poverty and to reach their God-given potential,’ shares Marc.

Please pray

A prayer for human dignity

God of all life,

We thank you that you have created every human being in your image – every person to be respected, cherished, loved and a reflection of your holiness.

We are sorry for where we have treated others any less than this. Lord, show us how we can give greater dignity to others – how we can share our time, resources, words and actions to show your love to others and help them reach their God-given potential.

For your glory, amen.

*Names changed to protect identities

Written by

Written by  Rachael Adams

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