Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Monday, February 25, 2008

College Students Reflect on Microfinance

Tonight, I had the good fortune to meet with some students interested in microfinance. Forgotten Voices is beginning a partnership with a hospital in Zambia to provide additional micro-loans to women that are waiting for their child before, during, and after surgery. They typically are waiting at the hospital for 10 days, providing a short, yet excellent, opportunity to provide some skills training and develop a business opportunity...providing empowerment and extra income to care for their vulnerable child. Our funding target for the women is connected to a feeding program aimed at providing additional food for kids with HIV that come to the hospital to help reduce their risk of sickness because their immune systems are extra weak.

The business loans are based on helping women make & sell tie dye shirts, which are all the rave in Lusaka right now and we are looking to help this hospital fulfill this idea that they've already begun implementing for a small number of women. As they hope to grow this to train more women, Forgotten Voices will be playing a small role in connecting our donors to this project.

Look for more info on this project in the coming weeks as we show how it'll work and demonstrate its practical connection to our mission of equipping local people to care for AIDS orphans in the community.

But back to the students... it's always inspiring to talk with students and dream with them about what could be. Too often, students read things in their textbooks that highlight problems that seem to have no solution or are focused on what isn't there. Tonight, we had a good talk about how Jesus focused on what is there...and how to build off it.

For example, Jesse Schwamb, our volunteer Director of Sustainable Development, began our time with Matthew 16:9 -- "Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?"

I have friend named Peter Greer, who leads HOPE International. He tells me often that we have to DREAM SMALL. Take what has been given to us and then move outward from there, rather than want everything now and get frustrated continually when things break down, or we don't achieve what we want as quick as what we want. We must not just teach people how to fish, but give them the tools to do it themselves for when (not if) we leave.

Two groups doing innovative work in Microfinance are HOPE International and I hope you take the opportunity to learn what we are learning about these days. I'm CONFIDENT you'll walk away from your encounters with these groups in the same way I walked away from my brief time with these students...inspired and challenged to do more than I'm doing now.

Thanks for reading, as always. Now, go dream small and help change the life of someone today. You are helping us do that, one village (or tie dye shirt) at a time.


No comments: