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That Looks Different

Bono & Ali Hewson of EDUN promoting their collaboration with Louis Vuitton

Most people have an expectation of what philanthropy or humanitarianism should look like. And much of it has little to do with the impact being made through their efforts.

If someone drops they’re “normal” existence, moves to Calcutta and dedicates their life to attending to the sick and the poor, it’s expected they will undoubtedly be revered as a humanitarian.

Teenagers and twenty-somethings are protesting, signing petitions, volunteering, resisting tyranny and flocking to conflict zones all over the world. It’s become trendy to do so, and frankly, I can’t think of a better trend to foster.

However, this pervasive belief that humanitarianism needs to look a certain way, or be in a certain place is quite problematic. With new technologies, ease of travel and the proliferation of social entrepreneurialism, the face of humanitarianism is evolving daily.

A woman in New York City can create a business selling luxury home décor items sourced from a tiny village in Nepal. She may have a beautiful boutique and wealthy customers that she wines and dines in order to keep up solid client relations. Her life does not look the same as the woman tending to sick children in the streets of Calcutta.

But the work this woman is doing in NYC is likely providing income and dignity for a multitude Nepalese families. This work is just as powerful, and likely more sustainable and beneficial than the work of the woman tending to the sick in Calcutta.

We need both. It’s easier than ever to do good in the world. And it has a lot of different faces. The more we embrace this dynamic, the more long lasting good we can incite.


  1. Dan Miller on January 26, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Jared – love your post. You are so right. We too quickly categorize what a humanitarian, a politician, a teacher, a pastor or caring soul would look like – ignoring the many ways those things can effectively be lived out.

  2. Nicole on February 9, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    Excellent post! I am in the beginning stages of walking out a dream I’ve held for some time. Looking back at the greatest barrier to its start-up I can say it was the continuous doubts I held that the work is not “humanitarian” enough. Your article reminds me that despite what socioeconomic bracket, race, gender, etc. the individual come from this does not expempt them from having a need. I believe it’s in the recognition of the need we begin to realize the heart of God.

    • Jared Angaza on February 11, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      I agree completely Nicole. Our purpose it so love others. Period. It matters not where or who they are. The natural journey of life provides us with countless opportunities to radiate and proliferate love. And you don’t have to work with a non-profit or social venture to do that successfully. Godspeed in your endeavors!

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