12/19/2012 04:11 pm ET Updated Feb 18, 2013

The Beginnings of a Humanitarian Spring

As each passing day brings the United States closer to the brink of the impending fiscal cliff, we are reminded by the challenges in America that many countries around the world are facing their own financial and societal mountains to climb. But with issues of human rights and poverty in developing nations, as with the issue of this country's economic health, systemic and sustainable change is inevitable.

The necessity of such change is more apparent now than ever before, and while it may be the start of winter in Washington, D.C., the developing world is in the beginnings of a Humanitarian Spring. Through programs like those put in place by my own organization, FXB International, the world is witnessing a remarkable shift in the combat against poverty as many of the world's poorest communities are becoming empowered to take control over their own destiny. In countries such as Myanmar, whose military government has been displaced by a newfound democracy, and Rwanda, where FXB programs are teaching whole communities to be self-sufficient, momentous strides are being taken for those willing to assert control over their own future.

Such empowerment lies at the core of the FXB philosophy and is at the heart of all that the organization hopes to accomplish. The value of immediate relief is clear to all in need of a meal and a place to sleep at night, but equally as important is the ability to become self-sufficient past the point where the plate is clean and the sun has risen. The widespread elimination of poverty cannot be achieved by throwing money at the problem; we must use our resources wisely and invest in programs that are proven remedies for the ills of poverty.

To that end, FXB has worked for many years to refine and perfect the methodology used in the FXB Village Network, our organization's signature program. For an initial minimum investment, we're able to provide the education, training, healthcare, counseling and structure needed to unlock the physical and mental shackles that often keep people in the prison that is poverty. The FXB Village Network methodology fosters sustainable change through autonomy, assisting families over a three-year period as they work toward futures that are healthy, secure and perhaps most importantly, sustained.

It is because of this deep-seated belief in the importance of autonomy that FXB is changing from within, as well. With each community in the FXB Village Network, participants are expected to become fully self-sufficient at the end of three years' time; in the same way, we must extend the reach of our program by enabling local individuals who supported FXB services to lead future efforts in their region. What better way to empower a people than to allow them to make decisions on behalf of FXB initiatives?

In the upcoming year, FXB will begin to transfer decision-making authority from our centralized international board to the local boards located in each of our sites of operation. The people that have for so many years been committed to advancing human rights in their respective countries will now be empowered to tailor our programs to the unique social and cultural nuances of the communities in which they work and live. This concept, as simple as it sounds, is the only way to ensure that the Humanitarian Spring we're all fortunate enough to witness will blossom and spread throughout the world. We must empower those we wish to serve in order to create long-lasting results.

It's also important to be reminded of the things that we hold dear and appreciate their presence in our lives. But it's even more important to be reminded that there are entire generations and communities that lack access to something as simple as running water. The goal of my work, which is also my dream, is the eradication of poverty, especially for children. And I believe to achieve such a goal, a methodology like that used in our FXB Village Network, created to empower its beneficiaries/participants, is the only way this dream can be achieved.

FXB has been on a remarkable journey for nearly 25 years, and now, with our work to advance human rights for the most destitute of children across the globe coming to slow but very real fruition, we are grateful both for the communities that have sought new empowerment and the staff that have helped them to succeed. Regardless of the season, a Humanitarian Spring is certainly cause for celebration as we move out of this year and into the next, adapting to the times as we move one step closer to a more secure global future.