Imagine this scenario: You’re handing out food baskets to refugees fleeing a conflict. There are women, children, and men asking for help, including several from the local population who aren’t refugees. Several wounded fighters are asking for help including those from a terrorist group and those from an oppressive military regime largely responsible for creating refugees. You don’t have enough aid to provide to everyone. So, who do you give it to, and in which order?

As a humanitarian organisation with limited resources, we and our partners are regularly required to make difficult, often heart-breaking decisions of who to help and who to turn away. The reality is that when providing aid you need to make distinctions between people and prioritise them accordingly. The question is: what’s a fair way to do this, and what’s unfair or discriminatory?

Fortunately, we have the United Nation’s humanitarian principles and a consistent Christian theology to adhere to.

The principle of impartiality explains “provision of humanitarian assistance must be impartial and no discrimination on the basis of nationality, race, gender, religion, political opinion or class. It must be based on need alone. Priority must be given to the most urgent cases of distress”. Furthermore, the principle of neutrality states humanitarian organisations must not take sides in a conflict.

This gives us a fair method by which to make distinctions and treat people, similar to triage in a hospital: need, and need alone. This approach is important because as history has shown us, ideologies and movements that discriminate are harmful and even deadly to those on the wrong end of them. In fact, they’ve resulted in the worst atrocities of human history.

On a more macro level, in the context of global development, we use these principles to prioritize which groups or categories of people are in the greatest need of aid. This includes communities, and sometimes age groups, ethnicities and genders. For example, child sponsorship focusses on those aged up to 18. In many of the contexts we work in, women tend to be more vulnerable, so some of our projects are specifically catered for them. And our programmes helping persecuted people groups can focus exclusively on an ethno-religious group. Although this involves a level of differentiating based on categories such as gender, age, and ethnicity, it’s done through a lens of assessing the needs of different groups, relative to others.

This approach of helping those in need regardless of who they are is also consistent with our Christian beliefs. The bible teaches us that all people are made in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and the love he has for them—exemplified by Jesus dying for us all on the cross. Jesus also asks us to love our neighbour regardless of the categories they fall in, as shown in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In the Sermon on the Mount he goes a step further to say “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who persecute you”, demonstrating benevolence shouldn’t be withheld from anyone.

We hope that helps to answer the question! Read more about who we are here.


Recent posts

Three ways letter writing benefits you and the child you sponsor

Three ways letter writing benefits you and the child you sponsor

Thursday, 22 April 2021 — Kyle Davidson

My life is already so busy with my work and kids that it’s hard to find the time. I need to wait until I have more to say. My letters don’t really matter anyway. I don’t know if you can relate to any of these. If you can, you’re definitely not alone. And you’re not a bad sponsor. That said, writing letters have amazing benefits, not only to your sponsored child but to you! Let’s take a look at three benefits of writing letters to your sponsored child.

 

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Sustainable agriculture transforming lives in Vanuatu

Sustainable agriculture transforming lives in Vanuatu

Monday, 12 April 2021 — Tearfund New Zealand

The key word is "sustainability". Instead of pouring money and resources into just the emergency needs, Tearfund's Farming and Enterprise partner in Vanuatu invests in a sustainable model that will hopefully outgrow the need for funding. An ambulance on the ground is unquestionably essential, but not nearly as powerful or effective as a fence on top of the cliff.

 

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What are Self Help Groups and how do they transform lives?

What are Self Help Groups and how do they transform lives?

Thursday, 08 April 2021 — Kevin Riddell

Self Help Groups are a simple, yet highly effective way to help lift women and their families out of poverty. They also provide emotional support and teach valuable life skills. They help women access a better future and have a positive impact on generations to come.


 

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Gisele

Gisele's salvation transforms her family

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 — Compassion International

Gisele's family were not Christians when she was registered into the Child Sponsorship Programme. After she gave her heart to the Lord as a young girl, her greatest prayer was that her parents would share her faith. This is a story of how God turned a trial into a testimony and answered her prayer.

*All names have been changed to protect identities


 

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God honours a little boy’s big faith

God honours a little boy’s big faith

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 — Compassion International

Although seven-year-old Elvis wasn't scheduled to receive a Bible at his Compassion centre, he insisted until the staff gave him one. Since then, Elvis, whose persistent prayers for his father's salvation were honoured by God, has become an example of great faith to others.


 

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Local staff in Burkina Faso and Thailand help sponsored children weather Covid-19 storm

Local staff in Burkina Faso and Thailand help sponsored children weather Covid-19 storm

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 — Kelly Burgess

Tearfund’s partner, Compassion, provides sponsorship programmes for vulnerable children in 25 countries. All of these countries have had very different experiences of managing life in a pandemic. It’s in this storm that our Christ-centered, child-focused model has been a safe anchor. Our programmes are facilitated by local church partners. These Christ-centred staff are dedicated to the community they know and love. They are their neighbours. It is this local connection that has been so crucial in enabling them to meet the needs of sponsored children and their families—right where they are.

 

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A Modern Slavery Act for New Zealand, could help you shop guilt-free

A Modern Slavery Act for New Zealand, could help you shop guilt-free

Wednesday, 24 March 2021 — Claire Gray

As history can attest, Modern Slavery isn’t an injustice that any of us can tackle alone. To end modern slavery, we need a collaborative movement that addresses the issue from multiple angles. This is, in part, already being accomplished through our overseas partners and our research in ethical fashion. But, to further the movement toward Modern Slavery Legislation in New Zealand, Kiwis like you can have a significant role.

 

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