It doesn’t have to be charity versus social engineering; Orthodox Christians can, with discernment, participate in certain movements in the world that improve the lives of poor people as well as people with disibilities-such as microfinance.
Orthodox Christians can dream dreams, and see visions- and they can be both very down to earth and practical and bold as well. Our children and fellow parishioners with disabilities also have abilities, and may, with a little help from their brethren, begin a profitable venture! For instance- In one of the other Friendship Community houses, one of our people began a business shining shoes. Of course, the venture can be anything that serves a real need.
Microfinance involves very small loans, which can be at low or no interest, given to people with meager resources in order to begin a small business and earn a livelihood. The first websites listed below explain this “movement” or vehicle of opportunity. Finally, a website will be listed which in which issues related to microfinance and persons with disability are dealt with.
The Microfinance Moment http://www.globalenvision.org/library/4/1396/ Microfinance Resources http://www.globalenvision.org/library/4/1052/ Coming to America: , , , http://www.globalenvision.org/tags/muhammad-yunus Lending and Befriending http://www.americasbestcompanies.com/magazine/articles/lending-and-befriending.aspx
Microfinance and Disability http://www.microfinancegateway.org/content/article/detail/32198
Microfinance and disability links in Zanzibar! http://www.afri-can.org/talaa.html
IOCC has supported some microfinance ventures: http://www.iocc.org/countries/countries_bosnia.aspx & http://www.iocc.org/countries/countries_georgia.aspx
Microfinance isn’t alms. But it enables people to support themselves by their own industry. Is this not better- and more charitable- than simply giving the same persons what they need? Of course, there are those whose disabilities are more severe, who cannot support themselves by their own means in any way, for whom alms are most appropriate. Both of these approaches have their place.