Increasingly, throughout the seventies and eighties, the NGOs’/Voluntary agencies’ role changed and became more important, and this has continued until today. Governments began to see that they were cheaper to run, and more effective in delivering aid.

They often had workers who lived in the rural areas where educated elites would never venture. Many originated there, spoke the language/s, and were highly motivated  – and not by self-interest. They could communicate with the poor precisely because they shared their problems and circumstances. These factors, of course, have long been the sine qua non of Catholic Missionary endeavours. In the absence of the State, the poor look to them for provision of basic services, and know that they are trustworthy.

Bringing things up-to-date, the relationship between the rich and poor has now become more one of partnership. ‘They’ are not helpless, nor is our life in the developed West, with its drugs, crime, corruption, materialism, family break-ups and violence the finished product all should necessarily aspire to.

We live in an inter-dependent age of unsustainable consumerism, globalisation, international terrorism, the existence of a two world superpowers, the US and China, and the predicted effects of global warming. We are all affected, and can work together for the benefit of all God’s people.

Looking back over the years, it strikes me that the specific needs for which we at SURVIVE-MIVA do our best to cater have in themselves changed surprisingly little.

We continue to see so many scenarios in which people with expert training and hard-earned skills form a vital part of communities to which (in most cases) they themselves belong, who find that they require some form of essential transport to fully expand their work, and build on what they have to offer – in the process contributing to the common good of all those around them in a hugely practical, often life-saving way.