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World Neighbors: Helping Communities

world neighbors
World Neighbors is an international non-profit organization working to improve the lives of people in struggling communities around the globe.

The organization was founded by Dr. John L. Peters, who was inspired to fight global poverty after experiencing it firsthand during his service in World War II.

Upon returning home in 1951, Dr. Peters created World Neighbors. In regards to a speech he gave at his local church after coming home, “I talked about the things I’d seen, but I spoke mostly about the things I felt: that the gulf between the rich and the wretched was intolerable; that we were brothers to, not keepers of, the world’s needy; that we must learn to do things with, not to – or even for – others; that they must share in electing priorities and procedures.”

To this day, the organization’s work is shaped around these principles. Before World Neighbors begins working with a community, the highest priority issues are determined by the community members rather than by the organization.

This ensures that each program is tailored to help whichever issues the community itself deems most important. The organization gives much importance to “listening to people, without predetermined ideas, to identify and address their needs, resulting in greater community involvement and long-lasting impact.”

Once the goals have been determined, the organization utilizes long-term development methods rather than short-term aid, taking a “big-picture, integrated approach focused on the entire community rather than on one issue.”

While multidimensional methods are stressed, World Neighbors divides its work into four different areas: hunger, poverty, disease and the environment. Within each category, the organization focuses on long-term solutions.

To combat hunger, World Neighbors educates communities about sustainable agriculture practices to help them gain more food security over time. In regards to the environment, the organization runs natural resource management programs, which ensure that the ecosystems rural communities survive on remain healthy and productive.

World Neighbors’ long-term initiatives, usually lasting between 8-12 years, focus on taking actions today that will create self-sufficient populations for tomorrow. In World Neighbors’ words, “We seek to strengthen local autonomy rather than create dependency.”

The organization is currently in eleven different countries, benefiting half a million people. Hopefully World Neighbors will continue to aid impoverished populations on a large scale over the coming years, as its long-term methods ensure that partner communities will continue to reap program benefits even after direct support has left, improving sustainability and the lives of struggling people around the globe.

– Emily Jablonski 

Sources: The World Bank, World Neighbors
Photo: Ionok