Opinion: It is in our best interest to help other countries

A Venezuelan volunteer places a bag of USAID humanitarian aid for storage at a warehouse near Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

A Venezuelan volunteer places a bag of USAID humanitarian aid for storage at a warehouse near Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. Fernando Vergara/ AP

By JONATHAN HOPKINS

Published: 03-01-2024 12:07 PM

Rev. Jonathan Hopkins lives in Concord.

I hear people say all the time, “Charity begins at home.” The idea is that we have enough people struggling with poverty right here in the United States why should we be giving money to people around the world? I actually think this is a false choice. I think we should and can do both.

My faith means that I don’t just care about my family, my community, my country, but people all over the world. I have been blessed that I have been able to go to places in the world that are filled with extreme poverty. I have come to believe that poverty is an evil. It robs people of their God-given dignity and power.

I suppose that is not a great argument for everyone. Not everyone shares my faith commitment. Not everyone has been able to travel and see the effects of poverty. I think there is a more practical reason. Reducing poverty around the world stops wars and creates democracy. It is in our best interest to stop poverty. People who don’t live in poverty have more money to spend on goods that we export.

Every year, the United States saves millions of lives and helps create a better, safer world for everyone — and we do it for a mere fraction of our federal budget.

Development and humanitarian assistance make up less than 1% of the budget but support programs and policies that improve the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. These are programs that fight HIV/AIDS, ensure children don’t die from preventable diseases, advance educational opportunities for women and girls, and promote job opportunities and economic growth.

We know development assistance works. Thanks in large part to U.S. contributions, more than one billion fewer people are living in extreme poverty today than in 1990. This progress is incredible, we must ensure it is lasting. Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, developing conflicts around the world, and the continued impacts of the climate crisis have sparked the first increase in people living in extreme poverty in decades.

That’s why I’m going to Washington, D.C. to make sure Sen. Maggie Hassan, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Rep. Ann Kuster, and Rep. Chris Pappas maintain this critical American legacy by supporting $61.7 billion in the FY 2025 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill, including $4.4 billion specifically for development assistance. Investment in global development is not only the right thing to do; it is also in our country’s best interest to create a safer and more stable environment for all.

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