Why Jump In the Pond?

Why should we care about supporting and educating children in developing countries, when so many children in our own country need help? As a nonprofit entrepreneur building a residential high school in Africa, I am often asked this question. And there are many answers!

In the Hebrew scriptures the prophet Isaiah tells us, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). In the New Testament, St. Paul encourages Christians to reach out to others in this way, “If one member [of the body of Christ] suffers, all suffer together with it . . .  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Cor 12:26-27). At baptism Christians are grafted into the body of Christ, and as such have a responsibility to other members of Christ’s mystical body throughout the world. When one suffers, all suffer.

Educating children in developing countries also helps tackle some of the global challenges everyone in the world needs to address:

a) Preventing diseases that flow across borders
b) Protecting our environment, which knows no artificial borders like on maps
c) Enhancing global security – violent extremism is less likely to take root in countries  where there are a greater number of opportunities.1 Education is one of those opportunities.

In addition, sometimes we forget how much collective wealth we in the developed world truly have at our disposal. The UN Development Program estimates that Americans spend $8 billion on cosmetics each year, and that annually Europeans spend $11 billion on ice cream and $50 billion on cigarettes.

In contrast, globally we only need $6 billion annually to provide basic education for everyone, and $9 billion to provide clean water and sanitation facilities to people living in extreme poverty. We do indeed have the money to make small lifestyle changes that can radically improve the quality of life for the world’s neediest people without diminishing the quality of our own lives. These conscious changes can profoundly increase our ability to give with no inconvenience to ourselves.

In The Life You Can Save, Princeton philosopher Peter Singer tells the story of a man walking by a pond dressed for work who sees a drowning toddler. Will he jump in the pond to save the child’s life, becoming soaked and making himself late for work? Of course he does. Yet how many children die every day from hunger and the effects of poverty in developing countries because we ‘walk on by’, not giving of our excess?2

Simply put, education saves lives. Education is the difference in developing countries between a life of abject poverty and one of economic independence. Education is the difference between life and death. Yes, we are to defend the oppressed, wherever we find these beloved children of God.

Why help children in developing nations? Why jump in the pond and save the child?3


1Rebecca Winthrop of the Brookings Institute on the video “The Education Crisis in Developing Countries”.

2Peter Singer, The Life You Can Save, New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2009

3Elizabeth Geitz, “The Academy – Frequently Asked Questions”, ImaginingTomorrow.org


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7 Responses to Why Jump In the Pond?

  1. Beth TigerNo Gravatar says:

    Wow… wow…. wow! So many great lessons and reminders in a few short paragraphs. Thank you Elizabeth for your wisdom and I am honored to be in wet clothing, standing in the pond with you.

    • ElizabethNo Gravatar says:

      Yes! We are in the pond together, swimming, treading water, and avoiding the alligators! And what a privilege and joy it is. Thank you, Beth. You’re amazing.
      Much love,

  2. Thanks so much for this article and especially for jumping into the pond go help so many in need. So long as you these for the least of my brethren, you did it for me.
    A beautiful article too with a lot to take home.
    Its thanks to this article that i approach you Rev. with a plea for assistance. A woman in pain and great need. She shared her story with me and together we have come up with an appeal letter

    My name is Yong Wilma. I was born on 9th Feb 1985 in Abou village Kom, North West Region Cameroon. My father is Woto Yong Thomas and my Mama Anna Nain’Yong. I am the 5th out of 8 though one deceased (with the current crisis in my village, my entire family is totally displaced and for almost a year now I haven’t spoken with all of them.)
    Before my health deteriorated, I was the one sponsoring my family. I have ordinary level technical certificate. I was a teacher at Orchidee Bilingual Nursery and Primary School Douala and I performed so well my proprietor won’t spare a thought to praise me in front of my colleagues. Sadly, such open appreciation landed me in the state in which I have been in now for 11years. Out of jealousy, my colleague inflicted me with a horrible disease called “Musong”(October 27 2008).
    Even when my skin healed my eyes remained my greatest challenge as I have had up to 7 operations.
    The last which took place barely a month ago
    During this period my family stood by me and I returned to the village. My parents sold off almost all landed property to carter for me. When the crisis started, they advised me to return to Douala for safety. It was then I met Ngeh Guilbert Ngwainmbi with whom we have a child. Now 3years old by name: Samoh Nain-Yong Reward Ngwainmbi. She has been my only companion as the father abandoned me when she was barely weeks old and married a different woman. Since then he has not cared for my daughter’s welfare.
    Even with my health and a tender baby, I began to fry plantains (chips) and move around to sale and take care of myself and my daughter. I also receive gifts from choir members of Presbyterian Church Bonaberi Douala and friends. It has been a terrible life for me.
    My pains have increased with my recent eye surgery and the thought of not being able to take care of my daughter especially her educational needs as she needs to go to school come September 2019. It is for this that I write this appeal pleading that you help me in any way you can. I will remain eternally grateful for any assistance.
    I feel bad that I cannot take care of my responsibility. I have no idea if God is punishing me for having a child out of wedlock. For that I pray every day that he forgives me and gives me strength to take care of my daughter Reward.
    Please help me

    Yong Wilma

  4. This same appeal in pdf format includimg pictures and back up data.
    I am Kosho Michel Dinyuy
    Fb: angel micke

  5. Many blessings to you, Yong. Please know that God is not punishing you. God is a God of love, not of judgment who hurts people. God loves you no matter what and you are God’s precious child. I run a foundation here in America that has built a residential secondary school in Bafut, where all of my funds go. However, if you are near Bamenda, please visit Good Shepherd Home and talk to Sister Jane Mankaa. It is possible she may be able to help you.

    Easter blessings to you and your baby,

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