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Today, you can double your investment in the life of a micro-entrepreneur!
Every $5 donation made on October 5 will be matched by a generous donor!
Five dollars may not sound like much. Nowadays, it's the cost of a good cup of coffee.
But when your $5 gift is matched, it becomes the size of a small micro-loan!
If you've been looking for a way to introduce a few friends to Five Talents, this is it. Invite four friends to join you in donating $5 each, and your combined $25 gift will become $50. That's the equivalent of five small micro-loans!
Pretty awesome, right? Click here to make your $5 gift today!
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The gentleman pictured in this Instagram photo recently became the 806th share-holding member of the Amat Wuot Community Bank in Lietnhom, South Sudan.
The Amat Wuot Community Bank was formally dedicated in 2009. The name means "a union of communities" in Dinka, the local language, because it is bringing together members from various clans, including two clans that had fought only a year before the bank's formal dedication.
Five Talents is working with a consortium of partners, including the Episcopal Church of Sudan, to provide business skills training to budding micro-entrepreneurs.
The village of Lietnhom is made up of members of the Dinka tribe, who are traditionally pastoralists. Therefore, they are having to learn for the first time how to save and use money and how to start and manage a micro-business. The bank's concrete structure has become a symbol of stability and reconciliation in an area that has a history of conflict and volatility.
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Five Talents' Program Director Suzanne Schultz is currently in South Sudan making a program visit. She just sent us this photo of a woman selling ocra at a market in Kuajok, Warrap State, a fast growing settlement area for returning refugees.
Tribal conflict and unrest along the border regions of South Sudan and Sudan have displaced thousands of people. When these women, children and elderly re-settle in places like Kuajok, they add to the challenges already being faced by the local community. In our recent interview with Robin Denney, she discusses the stresses this places on farming.
"The nature of displacement means that really there wasn't quite enough space," said Denney. "The further you got away from the insecurity, the more land was available. But because you have thousands of people [on the move at one time] – 3,000 to 10,000 – when you move that many people into an area, there can't be enough land."
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Nearly every week we post photos, stories and interviews showing just how Five Talents is fighting poverty, creating jobs and transforming lives in the developing world.
But the truth is, we're just one factor in the equation of success that is reflected in this blog. There are others: God, of course; our partners on the ground in places like South Sudan, Myanmar and Indonesia; the considerable creativity and resilience of our micro-entrepreneurs; and also -- you.
Today marks the soft launch of our new "Walk with Us" campaign. In the coming weeks, we'll be asking you to participate in several exciting online social media campaigns.
We'll invite you to become a recurring donor, where just $10 per month can provide loan capital, financial services, business training and spiritual mentoring for up to five micro-entrepreneurs.
Throughout the 2012-2013 fiscal year, we'll also be asking you to pray for the campaign's success. Your faithful prayers will be crucial.
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This photo, from our archives, looks in on a training session for community facilitators in Sudan. Five Talents works in both Sudan and South Sudan with a consortium of partners, including the Episcopal Church of Sudan.
Despite the ongoing unrest in border regions, as well as tribal violence, Five Talents and its partners continue to work in the countries. To learn more about the challenges facing local farmers in South Sudan, read our Q&A with Robin Denney, an agricultural consultant who worked with the Episcopal Church of Sudan from 2008-2011.
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South Sudan recently celebrated its first birthday as a new nation, but many of its citizens reside far from their homes, struggling to carve out a living in displacement camps. Here's the second half of our conversation with agricultural consultant Robin Denney, who worked with the Episcopal Church of Sudan from 2008-2011 to help community leaders and displaced farmers – some of them micro-entrepreneurs – make the most of the limited resources around them. In Part 1, Robin talked about displacement and how that can impact farming. Here, she shares a few stories about the lives of farmers who have been displaced.
When you were giving talks and seminars, what was the makeup of your audience?
It was usually a gathering of people that the bishop had pulled together from different sectors. Usually, a mix of Mothers Union staff, pastors, people like archdeacons who could carry the information out to a larger group, and then a mixture of teachers, farmers, and farmer group members. It was a neat mix of people.
When you met farmers who had been displaced, what was their spirit like?
Every individual reacts to a situation differently. So I met some people who were hopeful, doing everything they could, who maybe received a little help from the person who was near them. Once, we stopped and prayed with a family that was grinding up peanuts that their neighbor had given them. They also had a bunch of leaves that they had collected from the forest. Their attitude was, "OK, we have what we need for today, and we are going to pray for tomorrow and be hopeful." They were hopeful because of the love they had experienced from the community and because of their faith.
But I met an old man in Ezo who was weaving baskets just for his own use, and perhaps to make a little money, in case anyone would buy something. He looked very, very sad and we stopped and talked with him. He said, "You know, I was a farmer and I always had enough to eat. I have never been hungry in my life because I was a really good farmer. But I wish I would never have lived to see times like this." He was living in the worst part of the displacement where people didn't even have tarps or anything. They just had palm branches with which they were trying to make basic shelters.
You mentioned techniques like planting in line and mulching. How did you "teach" these techniques?
One problem that secular organizations have is they just focus on techniques, thinking if I show you a technique that's better, then you can just use that and you'll be fine. But that doesn't work. People use farming techniques not because of logic, or because they were taught something, but because of tradition. There are whole systems and cultural things in play about why it is you farm a certain way. And it also comes down to how you feel about yourself. Many farmers are only farmers by default because they didn't get a scholarship or a business loan, so they have a negative feeling about their farm. So the first part of the workshop is really about helping farmers to discover their worth, and that God is calling them to be caretakers of Creation and to support their families, that it's a noble work and the first calling of humanity, of Adam and Eve.
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Last week, we posted Part 1 of an interview with Robin Denney, an agricultural consultant who has worked with the Episcopal Church of Sudan to advise community leaders and farmers who have been displaced because of unrest and tribal violence.
Denney notes that 98 percent of South Sudanese do some sort of farming -- if only to put food on the table. Imagine, then, how devastating displacement can be to those who have spent months cultivating a plot of ground only to be suddenly uprooted and forced to leave a patch of tomato plants, or a banana tree, behind.
The photo above depicts a displacement camp in Lainya, South Sudan, where families try to re-establish a sense of order and cultivate new plots of land for personal and entrepreneurial farming.
Please check back later this week for Part 2 of our interview with Robin.
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South Sudan recently celebrated its first birthday as a new nation, but many of its citizens reside far from their homes, struggling to carve out a living in displacement camps. Here, we talk with agricultural consultant Robin Denney, who worked with the Episcopal Church of Sudan from 2008-2011 to help community leaders and displaced farmers – some of them micro-entrepreneurs – make the most of the limited resources around them. Please check back next week for Part 2 of our conversation.
Sudan has a long history of violence. There's the civil war, of course, which led to South Sudan declaring its independence. There's also tribal violence and the presence of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). How much displacement did you see during your time in South Sudan?
I saw a lot of it because I travelled to 25 of the 26 dioceses when I was in South Sudan. In most dioceses, there was a displacement camp that we visited. The bishops would always take us there. Most of the displacement that I saw was due to the LRA activities in Western Equatoria. And the amount of people they displaced was really amazing – 400,000 since 2008.
Can you explain how displacement happens in the case of the LRA?
The LRA is a terrorist organization. They don't just exist for their own profit or some political goal; they are trying to terrorize and displace as many people as possible. So all of their attacks are designed to cause maximum impact. They attack before harvest and drive people off of their farms so they can't harvest. They burn the stores of food so that after people flee from their houses they can't go back and get their food. They [either] take it for themselves or destroy it. In [the southwestern town of] Ezo, the farmers who had managed to plant something before they fled tried to go back to harvest those crops. The LRA knew it was harvest time, so they were lurking in the area. And all they had to do was kill one person who had gone to collect their crops and then everyone knew that it was not safe – and that they had to abandon their crops. (In the photo: A boy plays in an Ezo UN Refugee camp for displaced Congolese people fleeing the LRA.)
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We've been doing a little experiment over on our Facebook page, and now we want to up the ante.
Every week, we are posting a Facebook poll question that places you, our friend and supporter, into a fictional role.
This week, we're asking you to step into the shoes of South Sudan President Salva Kiir and make a white-knuckled policy decision.
Previously, we invited our Facebook friends to vote on how they would spend the weekend if they lived in rural Peru.
The goal of this new tradition is two-fold: One, we want to help our friends and supporters learn a little more about the countries where we work. And two, we want to generate more buzz about Five Talents within our fans' existing Facebook networks.
You can help us by simply taking a minute and responding to the weekly poll.
We'll give two lucky people who participate between now and the end of August a snazzy Five Talents polo. Participate once and your name is in the hat. It's that easy!
Of course, we hope you'll want to chime in with an answer every week.
We'll do our best to keep things interesting!