June 20th 2007 (4) comments so far
Here in Maputo South Africa, we spent Tuesday with the local Opportunity International (OI) staff. According its website, OI’s mission is “to provide opportunities for people in chronic poverty to transform their lives.” Their core “business” is providing small loans to those who want to grow a business. After an orientation session in the main office we visited several groups of loan recipients. While each of the groups had its own character, they all had one thing in common–an unusual commitment to each person’s success. Most of the loan recipients have a stall in a market area where they sell fruit and vegetables. Most are the sole providers for their children and grandchildren.
The first group that we met has chosen the name, “hope.” They’ve only had their loans a short time. When asked what they hoped to see happen in their lives as a result of the loans, one of the women replied, “I’d like to choose what I eat.” Simple. Honest. Humbling. The truly poor fly under the world’s radar most of the time. Most exemplify that tired phrase, “quiet desperation.” They live without the privilege of thinking about tomorrow, because today’s challenges are always overwhelming. OI’s work gives these folks something that society refuses to give them–dignity, and hope.
In Chattisgarh, India, we are exploring a partnership with OI. My visit with them here in Maputo solidified my commitment to keep pursuing that possibility.
We leave Maputo tomorrow for Johannesburg, South Africa. There we’ll be visiting a former student, Charlotte Moore, who works with orphans. I’ve loved being in Maputo. The experience has stretched me in ways that I didn’t expect. Good ways. Ways that I needed to be stretched.
Finally, one really fun thing. I got to fulfill a long-time desire today when I stood in the surf of the Indian Ocean. Don’t know why that mattered to me, but it did. Ciao!
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