John Bland, the founder and Executive Director of Amigos for Christ, a NGO working to alleviate the effects of poverty and build better lives in Nicaragua, joined the Catholic School Matters podcast to discuss the lessons he has learned over the past 19 years. The podcast can be found here.
Bland, an engineer by trade, has developed empathy first. He wants to walk with people and to learn their stories. He doesn’t look to immediately solve problems (like other engineers!) but instead asks questions and walks alongside. This approach has led to massive success as Amigos for Christ has had a significant impact in the impoverished area of Nicaragua by building houses, drilling wells, providing medical care, and countless other ways.
Bland serves as a model Catholic whose faith has shaped his life’s work. Amigos for Christ hosts countless mission trips—many by Catholic schools such as Marist High in Atlanta—and we discussed why those trips are successful. We don’t simply want people’s money, he said. He believes in the “multiplier effect.” He believes that these mission trips transforms people’s lives by bringing them into contact with Third World poverty. When the missionaries return to the States, they bring back those lessons and can inspire others to serve those in need.