NPH USA: Model for Breaking Cycles of Generational Poverty

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ONTARIO, Canada — In an interview with The Borgen Project, East Region Donor Relations Coordinator Casey Rector sat down to discuss Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) USA and NPH Global and how their models for self-sustainability and self-actualization help break cycles of generational poverty.

The NPH Way

NPH USA is one of 14 fundraising offices located in the Global North. Rector has been in her role for three years. Her enthusiasm to discuss the NPH’s global family reflects her passion for her work. Father William B. Wasson started NPH in Mexico in 1954 as a way to improve the lives of children in need. Its Mexican global head office has been in operation for more than 66 years. Today, NPH has homes in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic (DR), El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru where more than 3,600 children in need receive access to living quarters, kitchens and dining halls, chapels, medical clinics and education.

Children can also participate in workshops on carpentry, welding and food-producing farming and gardening. NPH’s goal is to have every home operate as a self-sustaining entity so that each home can care for its residents and give back to the local community. In essence, the NPH homes provide a way to break the cycle of generational poverty. Additionally, NPH’s homes assist more than 3,900 children living outside of the homes and provide 81,000 services to the local community.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Particularly, when considering poverty reduction, Rector discusses the model of building homes in impoverished communities where local children could develop a sense of family and community. NPH’s model has been studied for years and NPH’s homes transform the lives of children, families and communities.

A European Sociological Review study in 2021 indicated that the best model to assist those living in poverty is one where the individuals can have access to low-income work while receiving social assistance. This strategy was the most effective in transitioning the community into a more self-sufficient entity. Similar to the study’s conclusion, NPH’s homes create jobs for individuals in the community while providing social assistance. This helps effectively transform the community into a model of self-sufficiency and self-sustainability.

Rector highlights some success stories. She discusses a young man who had grown up in the organization’s DR home where he dreamed of making a difference. After graduating from dentistry, he now works with the local community to raise funds to build a local dental clinic. Furthermore, he gives back to the DR home in his spare time providing dental care to its residents.

Yet, Rector underlines that the NPH change had more to do with the ability to create a cycle of giving back. All those living in the homes, from young to old, become part of a community with the stability to help others in need. Rector’s stories of how the local homes made an impact on the ground were endless. Specifically, she notes how the homes were able to assist the surrounding community after earthquakes, flooding and volcanic eruptions.

Self-Actualization

Impoverished communities can improve significantly as their basic needs are met. Having basic needs such as food and access to clean water and shelter can transform an individual and their family. A 2016 journal article published by the American Psychological Association noted that with Maslow’s theory of self-actualization, mentally healthy individuals were deeply motivated to follow a path called growth motivation. That pattern shifts focus from self-interest to social interest. NPH’s homes not only break the generational poverty cycle but also, through the care of those in its homes, transform the lives of individuals, allowing them to think about the greater community’s needs.

Self-actualization, or meeting one’s basic needs, permits people the security to recognize the needs of those around them. Rector’s stories of giving back are a product of self-actualization fostered in NPH homes. For example, it houses local community elders who had no family and allows them to volunteer in the daycare. It also offers trades certificates to locals and a “year of service,” permitting those transitioning out of the home into the workforce time to reflect on their calling.

NPH’s Innovation

From a new surgical ward in its DR home to having the only pediatric oncology unit in St. Damien’s Hospital in Haiti, NPH continues to innovate and build resources on the ground to meet the needs of communities. NPH USA has developed virtual galas alongside its established child sponsorship model to continue to improve its nine homes.

Traveling with NPH is also a possibility for donors; however, in Rector’s words, “the goal is relationship building — NPH wants sponsors to demonstrate unconditional love and learn from the individuals in their homes.” She explains further, “The one-week stay is a transformative one for our homes and for those donors who participate in the experience.”

NPH Family

Returning to the NPH concept of family, the charity has not only formed strong bonds among their communities on the ground but also with its international donors. In turn, donors form a strong bond with their selected NPH home and sponsored child. Rector spoke of a donor who sponsored a child from age 8 through to the child’s post-secondary education completion. This particular donor had recently booked a trip to Honduras to meet her sponsor child, now a young woman. Rector tells multiple transformation stories similar to this one.

NPH USA’s magic is in its donor relations, forming bonds that are life-changing and unbreakable. In Rector’s words, “We make a difference in our NPH homes and how they transform their local communities, but we also have the best donors who are committed to helping us, NPH USA, make this difference globally.”

– Michelle Renee Genua
Photo: NPH USA

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