All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.
Helen Keller






No community is totally broken. No community is 100% perfect. No community is one dimensional.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have spent the past week recovering from a pretty serious “poverty porn” hangover from multiple locations.  I have seen picture after picture of sick, poor marginalized communities infested with some of the world most deadliest diseases. If I were to believe those pictures I would think that  the continent of Africa was only filled with death, destruction, sickness and war.

That was all they showed me.

They did not show me the folks in that community who were up at the market selling goods. The teachers riding their bikes to work or  the farmers in their fields harvesting crops. They did not show me the architects and engineers – the chefs  or the small business owners. If I were to just  believe the photos I would never know that families are attending worship services together, gossiping  about latest news and arguing over the most recent sports team trade.

Communities like life are complex and rich…filled with both pain and love….. with sickness and health, darkness and light. I am rather tired of us trying to distill everything into one photo  or bite size marketing phrase. I am tired of us using guilt instead of education as a way to raise money. I am tired of us only showing people in despair and not showing the faces of those overcoming and living a life of joy.

The picture above was taken in Zambia. if I only served you this tiny slice of  what is a thriving community you would make assumptions about who lives there in what most of us what call a shack. You would be wrong.  Just behind this picture lives a thriving community of safe, beautiful homes that the community built together. The homes  were built for families/neighbors who have stepped up to  help raise orphans and other vulnerable children.

This is a community overcoming

I live in a pretty affluent neighborhood. Lots of pretty gardens, friendly neighbors and beautiful homes.  Early this week my car was broken into and vandalized.  I have never been robbed in my life before this week. Never. I grew up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago,  steps away from a major housing project. Yet it took me moving to this very upper middle class neighborhood for me to be violated and my property destroyed.

Communities are complex.It is never THE Hungry…people are food insecure. It is never THE Poor…people are living in poverty.


Lets stop perpetuating untruths  and stereotypes through our language and our media . Let people share their stories, their entire story in a way that  empowers and educate us all.  I want to learn about their stories of  suffering AND  their victories  in overcoming.


If you want to build core  nonprofit management skills crucial to your organization’s success you can schedule some 1:1 time with me here or learn about other ways we can work together here.

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