Director of Events and Logistics Ivey Lawrence said PCL limited the symposium to a one-night event. She said the decision was made in hopes of increasing community attendance.
The event will take place Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Conn Center at Lee University.
Dr. Tony Campolo, pastor, social activist, author and self-professed passionate follower of Jesus, is the featured speaker.
The nonprofit chose Campolo for his work with the underprivileged across the globe. He currently advocates with Compassion International.
People for Care and Learning believes the first step of breaking the cycle of poverty is to inform others of its existence. The next step is to inspire those who hear to get involved.
“We believe the only way you can break the cycle of poverty is when people come in to help,” Lawrence said. “Often, they did not pick that life. It was a life given to them. We feel like the way you can break the cycle of poverty is by systematically and holistically addressing the need.”
The local nonprofit has lived up to its belief through its ongoing project called Build A City. According to Buildacity.org, the inhabitants of Andong Village in Cambodia lost everything when developers sought the land beside the river in Phnom Penh. The displaced villagers were left to fend for themselves.
People for Care and Learning noted the villagers’ immediate need for a drainage system and clean water. Additional needs like sturdy homes, a medical clinic, means of income and learning opportunities become apparent. The decision was made to “take on a new endeavor” and build a new city in Khan Dang Kao, Cambodia.
Lawrence said she did not understand the full extent of poverty until a recent visit to the third-world country.
“You always hear about the cycle of poverty, but I guess for me, I didn’t realize how incredibly true that was until I was actually in Cambodia, sitting in a hut in Andong listening to one of our employees talking about the [hut owner’s] struggles,” Lawrence said.
The hut owner was born “incredibly poor.” She was placed in Andong where the government took away her work and property permits.
“People will save and save and save,” Lawrence said of the poor in Cambodia. “They will borrow from neighbors and do all this stuff to be able to get their work permit so they can work again.”
Sometimes the permits they receive have their name misspelled. Lawrence said it is not the same process of having a new one made, as it is in America. A misspelled name means another year of saving and borrowing.
Added Lawrence, “They really are stuck.”
Breaking the cycle of poverty encompasses more than a one-act service. According to Lawrence, it requires addressing everything from water purification to education. However, she stated it is not a one-man act.
Lawrence said seeing everything involved in breaking the cycle alone can be overwhelming.
“You have to look at addressing whatever piece of it you can as other people are addressing the other pieces,” Lawrence said. “Honestly, one of the things we believe in ... is child sponsorship. There was a big study on child scholarships by Compassion International that followed a huge chunk of kids from the time they started sponsorship all the way through adulthood.”
Continued Lawrence, “And, basically, child sponsorship literally changes those kids’ lives.”
She finished with the mention of poverty in Cleveland’s own backyard. According to Lawrence, poverty is not limited to Third World countries.
“I think the more educated you are, the greater chance you are going to do something about it,” Lawrence said. “The more of us who are educated and doing something, the less likely the poverty cycle will continue.”