Service as a Leap of Faith

POSTED BY ELLIOT LEVIN

I recently returned from a conference in Amman, Jordan, where I taught a class for Near East NGO leaders. The topic was trends in global philanthropy for providing basic health and human services in developing countries.

Participants included leaders of organizations providing vital services to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees whose lives have been torn asunder. These families are now living in makeshift camps in Turkey and Jordan.

Could we do what they do?

Their stories and the scale of the human suffering made me wonder what we in the US would do if something happened along our peaceful borders. Would all the know-how we assume to possess be efficiently and compassionately mobilized?

Would we allow millions from, say, Central or South America to come into the US in the event of man-made or even natural disaster? Would our government and nonprofit sector join forces to tackle the needs? Or, would we secure our borders and assert that delivering aid was not our problem?

Admiring the commitment

The experience made me realize that while developing countries may lack our storied know-how, they do not lack compassion. They’ve stepped up, despite having few resources to tackle the problem. The world and the UN are meeting but a fraction of the cost — the rest is absorbed by local government and their NGOs.

I lauded those in the class for meeting the challenge without knowing where they’d find the resources or whether the issue was compatible with their strategic plan.

Sometimes you just gotta. And from there, funding may well follow. The ultimate leap of faith…