I'm reading poverty research right now and coming to conclusions that I hadn't considered before.
HOPE. That is what people need. Sometimes it comes in the form of a some goats or a micro loan. Sometimes it is from a sponsor like Compassion International, where an individual child has more invested in them from town infrastructure to school uniforms. Psychologically knowing you have a way out or a way up makes all the difference. This holds true in our own nation as well as others.
The flip side is wrenching to read but illuminates the point. The studies showing that hope can be unlearned seem to say our brains and hearts can come to acknowledge fruitlessness of fighting for something better. This is when despair happens, which contributes to substance abuse and impulse spending which can often plague the poor. This leads to judgment and a resistance of compassion in those that observe it. I get that and I've been there. But I think for too long we've been confusing cause and effect.
Hope comes in different packages and some work while others don't. That's why I'm a big fan of outcome research on charity work. I'm excited to be reading A Path Appears where the authors have compiled a lot of that research. I highly recommend it and I look forward to finding ways to give of myself and try to find resources so that in 2015 I can work to inspire hope.