Relief agencies strive to give aid that will generate self-sufficiency, but that is not the way donors spell relief.

The Browns and the Smiths received the same letter today. It sent one family into despair and the other into praise. Why?

Each family sponsors a child in a program of a large, evangelical relief and development organization. Each had been contributing regularly toward the support of a particular child in the Third World. Now, says the letter, the project is finished. Contributions from these two families and thousands of others like them have been applied within the communities of the two children. Conditions have improved significantly, and the children’s families have become economically self-sufficient.

The Browns rejoice at the dinner table this evening. They look forward to channeling their support into the life of another hurting child.

But Mrs. Smith seethes: “This is the worst thing that’s happened to me since Mother died.” Then, with some bitterness, she says, “There are better places to put our money.”

Why is there a difference? And where are the good old days of sponsoring children when “your kid was your kid” for good? In those days, a few U.S. families became so close to their sponsored children that they ended up sending them through college.

Although the organizations practicing relief and development prefer the attitude of the Browns, they would concede that even the Browns may not be aware of the vast changes in thought about the wise handling of “relief” today.

Let us take a look at the world of relief (and now development) generally, and the revolution it has undergone.

Skyrocketing Interest In Relief

Although the donor may not be well informed about the latest thinking on relief, he has been involved ...

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