This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Washington Witness: Foreign aid is money well spent

Hannatu Anthony (name has been changed for confidentiality) smiled and sang songs as she walked to Faith Alive pharmacy in Jos, Nigeria. During her pregnancy, she received free treatment, medication and support from Faith Alive clinic, a partner organization of Mennonite Central Committee.

Charles Kwuelum

Anthony’s access to free antiretroviral medications helped prevent transmission of HIV to her baby.

Anthony is among the 15.4-20.3 million women living with HIV and AIDS globally, as reported by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.

Through MCC’s support, Faith Alive provides prevention services and treatment to people with HIV and AIDS, making health care accessible to the most vulnerable, especially infants, children, pregnant women and mothers.

But the scale of need requires support from governments as well.

The United States has been a global leader in responding to international humanitarian and development needs, a priority long valued by both Republicans and Democrats.

In February, the president released his 2019 budget request, in which he proposes $716 billion in total defense spending, a huge increase of $80 billion over fiscal year 2017, and keeps nondefense spending at $529 billion.

The entire U.S. foreign assistance budget already makes up less than 1 percent of the federal budget.

The president’s budget would cut this by 30 percent, despite ongoing global crises, including an unprecedented 65.6 million people forcefully displaced from their homes by conflict, persecution and natural disaster, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency.

Worldwide, 815 million people are hungry.

The president’s proposal would also eliminate peacebuilding programs and drastically cut funding for some global health programs. In addition, vital programs providing much-needed food assistance would also face cuts.

These programs are part of the international affairs budget within the federal budget that helps to save lives and advance the dignity of vulnerable and marginalized people globally.

Prioritizing military spending over humanitarian aid, development assistance and peacebuilding programs is short-sighted and immoral.

But we are called never to be discouraged in sharing and caring for one another. God commands us to give generously and to uphold justice.

The United States is one of the world’s wealthiest countries. As Paul writes, “It is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance” (2 Cor. 8:13-14).

As Christians characterized by Christ’s selflessness, it is our duty to advocate for robust foreign assistance for people who are in need.

By asking policymakers to sustain the U.S. response to communities around the world, we give and share the love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).

Charles Kwuelum is legislative associate for international affairs in the Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office.

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