Blair Packard is a physical therapist and Cindy is a midwife. They are from Utah but have lived in Arizona since 1976, first in Mesa and now in Gilbert. They have seven children and 25 grandchildren. Cindy learned some Portuguese after starting a nonprofit, Care for Life, based in Mozambique. This came in useful later when they served a short-term humanitarian mission to Mozambique, and then as mission president from 2006-2009. In this interview, Kurt and the Packards talk about how to address primary problems instead of secondary problems in welfare service programs, mentoring and guiding people toward comprehensive self-reliance instead of simply giving them short-term support.


1:40 Church service in Mozambique

4:50 Their experience in a robbery/hostage situation involving President and Sister Nelson near the end of their mission

8:10 How Care for Life came to be

11:00 They couldn’t just do one thing. There were so many needs, and they boiled it down to a need for knowledge and teaching.

12:20 Welfare and self-reliance principles came from their service

  • Documentary: Poverty, Inc.
  • When we think we are helping, we are more often creating dependence

14:45 Preventing the primary problem instead of trying to solve secondary problems, going into the “orphan prevention business”

16:50 At first they started an agriculture class, but eventually learned to mentor instead of simply teaching and walking away

17:45 Specialists work with the communities in different areas, setting goals, evaluating, and mentoring over time, much like a ward welfare council

20:50 Make it clear that they are only helping short-term and the community will need to support themselves after that

21:25 Took time to develop the Care for Life “family preservation program” based on the needs of the people, as determined by the community

  • Eight areas in the program: education, health, and hygiene, food security and nutrition, sanitation, income generation, home improvement, psychosocial well-being, community participation
  • Over 15 years, they were able to reduce maternal mortality rates in the villages by 78% and infant mortality rates by 57%

22:50 How they did it wrong at first, training birth attendants but not teaching entire villages of families

24:25 The comprehensive problems need to be addressed, and it starts with families

26:20 Kurt: It’s easy to project our perspective on someone else, but the solution needs to come from the people

27:35 Sending toys to Africa: not understanding what the villagers really needed

29:20 How to not project your experience on others: talk with them and observe what they don’t know how to do

32:00 It’s not a matter of intelligence, but a lack of experience and opportunity

34:22 Empowering individuals to believe that they can do this themselves and change their own lives

37:55 They monitor villages for five years after the initial program and see how the people then take ownership and teach others

39:30 It’s not about money but about giving people rewards for doing the work themselves

40:20 Mentoring is ministering

41:15 The self-reliance program isn’t just giving someone a manual, but working with the people to learn the principles

42:30 You have to celebrate success when a goal is reached, giving positive feedback

43:35 Many of the people they have taught skills to have gained the capacity to serve and gone on to be Church leaders

44:40 Maslow hierarchy of needs: begin with the basic needs before they can engage in Church service

45:25 Goal: be temporal centers of strength preceding spiritual centers of strength

46:25 The Lord knows the needs of the people and will open doors for you to serve them

47:15 Cindy’s first experience in Mozambique

48:35 Just do it and the Lord will open the way, even if it seems scary or impossible

49:15 Elder Packer: Walk to the edge of the dark and then take a couple more steps

50:25 The Lord has a plan and it works out in spite of mistakes, which is how you learn what doesn’t work

51:30 Create an exit strategy at the beginning, help them understand that they will need to work really hard where all of the basic needs are, and create a personalized plan with the answers they come up with

53:55 Identify the psychosocial, educational, and spiritual needs of the families, digging deeper to assess where they are and what the primary problems and needs are

55:00 Determine if they really want to be self-reliant or simply want a handout

56:35 Explain that others will step into minister, and help those people understand their role instead of simply giving them a name and telling them to “minister”

58:00 There are correct principles that apply in every situation and if the people are willing to do what is needed, they will have success

59:45 How to help with Care for Life

1:01:00 We have to continue to learn from our experiences, recognize that the Lord has a plan for us, and be humble enough to act when prompted

1:02:20 Our struggles will teach us to be more Christlike


Care for Life

Self-Reliance Services

Poverty, Inc.

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