Campus News

Poverty, Inc. Movie Night

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MISHAWAKA, IND.-- On Nov. 15, a group of students and professors gathered in the Kelly Auditorium to watch "Poverty, Inc.," a film that seeks to discover who profits the most from the "big business" of fighting poverty. 

  Patrick Oetting, a 2014 Bethel alumnus and current employee at Acton Institute, spoke briefly before the movie began and answered questions when the movie ended.   Oetting explained that "Poverty, Inc." explores three main themes: first, it points out that too often we treat poor people as objects of our charity, pity and sympathy; second, it demonstrates that the "social engineering approach" we have taken to aid is failing, because it treats human beings as problems to solve instead of persons to come into relationship with; and third, the film shows that the billion-dollar charity industry wants to keep itself in business, even though it often does more harm than good.  One of the main issues highlighted by the movie is the consequences on local economy when aid continues for too long after a disaster. It cited several examples of individuals who had lost jobs, or even industries that had been rendered obsolete by the overabundance of aid.  The film also delved into some of the problems caused by orphanages. It specifically looked at Haiti; it is estimated that about 80% of adopted Haitian "orphans" have at least one living parent. Among the poor in Haiti, being an orphan is a coveted position; the orphanage provides daily meals, clothing and education, luxuries their parents often cannot afford.   Those who are not adopted often suffer emotional and psychological trauma due to the lack of a loving family in their daily lives. On the other hand, meeting the needs of the children does not help the parents to improve their own situation.   The best solution is to provide jobs for the parents, thus enabling them to meet their own needs and their children's needs and helping to keep them together as a family.  Dr. Kent Eby, the associate professor of missions, hosted the event, and closed the evening with encouragement to do what you can to help and to not judge others who may be using faulty methods.  "I hope this video disturbed you," said Eby. "I hope this started something in you that wants to make a difference... [but] extend grace to those who are trying to help, because their hearts are in the right place even if their methods aren't." 
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