Advocates for the Poor
The Advocates for the Poor project trains Asian women to help their vulnerable communities to obtain government benefits which they often do not receive because of lack of awareness of available benefits, illiteracy, or other reasons. The need is enormous because certain parts of Asia experience the world’s worst poverty. Many families do not have access to necessities, such as clean water and electricity. In addition, many vulnerable families are not able to enroll their children in school, access available pensions, or obtain a vendor’s license. Many communities do not have toilets or proper drainage. Sadly, many victims of domestic abuse are left without recourse because they do not know how to receive assistance.
The project uses an “Advocating with the Poor” manual that was developed to address these challenges and then translated into multiple languages for use in multiple regions. The manual identifies approximately 40 important benefits in categories such as food and water, income, health, education, power and gas, community services, farming, identity documents, and help for human rights abuse. Each benefit is described on just one page that includes the relevant government department, the exact entitlement, the application process, procedures to follow if the application is not approved, and a success story. The manual is easy to use, even for women with little education.
The project trains 12 to 14 women in a selected city or area to work for five to 10 hours each week. The women usually work in teams and go out to their communities to meet people and survey needs. Once needs are identified, they work with families and individuals to help them apply for benefits and then help them through the process until benefits are received. The women meet regularly with a project coordinator to share successes and solve problems. They can also learn to start literacy classes and self-help groups. Since all the women advocates are followers of Jesus, they are also able to share God’s story, the story of the ultimate Provider and the Advocate for whom nothing is impossible.
There are currently two projects in need of funding among two of the poorest and most oppressed outcaste people groups. The support of a full team for one year is just $2,500. Each advocate receives an honorarium of $10 dollars per month, which, though small to us, is significant in their economy. The coordinator gets a slightly larger amount, and the remaining funds are used for forms, transportation to government offices, regular team meetings, and miscellaneous expenses. The projects are designed to run for three years ($7,500) so that the process can be taught widely and thoroughly enough to endure when the funding ends.
Would you, your small group or Sunday school class please consider a gift for the support of a people group team? Gifts are tax-deductible and can be made in any amount.
A Success Story
Sunita* and her husband, Rajesh*, have five children and live in a small hut in one of their city’s five hundred slums. Sunita* was illiterate and could get only occasional jobs as a servant. Rajesh* lost a foot in an accident and had not worked for six years. The family lived from one meal to the next. One day, one of our advocacy workers met Sunita* and learned of the family’s plight. She also learned that the children were not in school because neither parent had the identity documents needed to apply for the available assistance. Our worker immediately helped them obtain their documents and the financial aid that enabled them to enroll the children in school. With the new identity documents, our worker then helped Rajesh* apply for disability assistance. The worker helped Sunita* enroll in a self-help group where she learned to save, began hearing the stories of Jesus, and eventually qualified for a small micro-loan. Within a short time, Sunita* was able to obtain a small loan that enabled Rajesh* to get a vendor’s license and open a small recycling stall. During this time, Sunita* had been hearing the stories of Jesus and become His follower. Sunita* said, ”Since the women have helped me, and I have come to know Jesus, I have found hope to live. Now my husband earns after six years of being bed-ridden. I know very well that Jesus has helped him. My children are happy going to school.”