Turn Your $5 Donation into a Micro-Loan!
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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!
The Weekly Window: Producing and Packaging Soap in Tanzania
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In this photo, Carolina in Tanzania works with her assistant to make a batch of soap, which she packages and markets to university students who live in her community in Iringa. The nearest university is just a few kilometers away.
Carolina also has a poultry micro-enterprise, for which her 32 hens produce approximately 30 eggs per day.
She is in her 4th loan cycle, and her most recent loan of 200,000 Tsh ($125) was used to improve the cleaning process for her poultry project.
Carolina, in Tanzania, Dreams of Branding Her Home-Made Soap
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Editor's note: Several members of our UK team, including the author of this post, Mahoo Lyimo, just returned from a program visit in Tanzania. They brought back some incredible stories about the women Five Talents and its partner, the Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF), are serving in the country. Here is one such story. For more on our Tanzania program, click here.
Carolina was among the first women served by Five Talents' partner in Iringa, Tanzania, the Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF). She attended the first training session conducted by Five Talents back in 2006.
Initially, she did not take out a loan because she was already paying off one from another provider. Following the death of her husband in 2009, however, she decided to join MBF because she required a more manageable loan. Previously, she had been a housewife; now she needed to support her two children.
Carolina has since developed two main businesses. For one, she keeps poultry. Presently, she has 32 hens and 4 roosters. They produce approximately 30 eggs per day, which she sells locally. More recently, she has also started a liquid soap business. She makes the soap in her house (approximately 10 liters per batch), packages it and then moves around her local area selling it.
Carolina has also managed to make some additional income by renting part of her house to two families.
Most importantly, she has witnessed a growth in profits in both businesses – especially with the soap. She has been targeting the large student population who live within the local community (a university is 5 km away). Carolina also employs a helper to assist her with her businesses.
Carolina is in her 4th loan cycle, and her most recent loan of 200,000 Tsh ($125) was used to improve the cleaning process for her poultry project. She now feels that she is producing more nutritious eggs.
She used one of her previous loans to purchase a sewing kit, which she used to produce and sell furniture coverings.
Since joining Five Talents' local partner MBF, Carolina has learned to think on a much larger scale in terms of what she is capable of doing. She has also been able to share her experiences and lessons learned with the members in her savings and loan group. Lastly, she has been able to track improvements in her living standards.
Jesus' Parable of the Five Talents Comes to Life: Your $5 Gift Will Be Matched
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You know the story, right?
A wealthy executive jets off on a business trip and leaves three managers behind to invest his assets. Two of these managers double their boss's money. One buries it in the ground and doesn't even collect interest. The executive returns, commends the two managers who invested wisely, and blasts the one who didn't.
On October 5, we're bringing Jesus' parable to life – and we want you to play the role of the wise "managers": Donate $5 on the fifth and your gift will be matched by a generous donor.
In Jesus' parable, the faithful servant invested five talents and turned it into ten. On October 5, you'll have a chance to turn $5 into $10.
But that's not all.
The Weekly Window: A Rope-Maker in South Sudan
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Five Talents' Program Director Suzanne Schultz recently returned from a visit to South Sudan...
Photo Essay: Five Talents' Partner in the Philippines Serves 'Street Dweller' Families
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Editor's note: Five Talents' local partners play a key role in ensuring the success of our programs – and also the transformation of their own communities. This is the second post in a two-part series by guest blogger Valerie Malabonga, who shares about her experience providing toys and clothes to children served by Five Talents' partner in the Philippines, the Center for Community Transformation. Click here to read Part 1, which explains the back-story of Valerie's project.
As I shared on Tuesday, my son and I sent six large boxes to several groups of children in the Philippines. These precious children have corresponded with me so I wanted to share their heart-warming stories and thanks. Below, you'll find their photos, along with brief descriptions of their stories and backgrounds.
The photos are courtesy of Five Talents' partner in Manila, the Center for Community Transformation. Permission was granted by CCT to share the names, stories and photos of the children.
Children and adults from the street dwellers' drop-in center read the donated Tagalog books.
Patrick (in the middle, with blue shirt and gray shorts), Jervie (at the back, partially covered in green shirt doing a V-sign) and the other teenage boys from Magdalena House of Friendship hold their balikbayan box.
Patrick is a 15-year old boy who, with his mom, lived in the streets of Manila for a year. He rummaged through trash cans and learned to steal just to have something to eat. Now Patrick is one of the leaders at the Magdalena House of Friendship, CCT's boarding school for teenage boys learning trades or completing the Philippines' equivalent of a GED. Patrick plays soccer and hopes to be a pastor or architect someday. (For Patrick's complete story, click here.) In eloquent Tagalog, Patrick thanked our family for the books, because these are helping him and the other boys learn important things. He prayed for God's blessing and protection for my family.
Guest Post: ‘Lord, What Can I Do to Help These People?’
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Editor's note: Five Talents' local partners play a key role in ensuring the success of our programs – and also the transformation of their own communities. This is the first post in a two-part series by guest blogger Valerie Malabonga, who shares about her experience providing toys and clothes to children served by Five Talents' partner in the Philippines, the Center for Community Transformation. Click here to read Part 2, featuring a photo essay along with the stories of some of the children who received Valerie's gifts.
On May 19, 2011, I was at the Five Talents office in Vienna, VA to hear Ruth Callanta speak about her work with the Filipino poor. Ruth Callanta is the president of the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), one of the partners of Five Talents in the Philippines. Ruth shared many stories, but what touched me most was her story about how she and CCT started helping the homeless (CCT calls them street dwellers) in the Philippines. Day after day, as she drove to the CCT office, she saw families living on the pavements of Taft Avenue, a major street in Manila. She described them as "looking like stray animals". One day, she could not take it any longer so she stopped her car and cried out to God. "Lord, what can I do to help these people?" It turned out that one of the board members of CCT already had a ministry feeding the and sharing the gospel with street dwellers at nearby Luneta Park. Long story short, Ruth and CCT's work with street dwellers has been so successful that they are now advising the Philippines' Department of Social Welfare and Development on best practices to help street dwellers.
I grew up in and worked with the poor in the Philippines before moving to the US twenty one years ago, so I asked Ruth at the end of the meeting, "My family has stuff to give away, may I send those to you in a balikbayan box?" Balikbayan boxes are the ubiquitous care boxes that Filipino immigrants send to their families in the Philippines. My extended family members are always thrilled to receive these boxes. Ruth said yes. So my now 7-year old son, Julius, and I assembled items from our house and collected more from other moms. My son added calendars with his picture and a note for the children. We sent six large boxes to the drop-in center for street dwellers, the former street-dweller children now living in a boarding school, and children from two indigenous people's groups -- the B'laan (pictured here) and Tagakaolo -- at another school. I also coordinated with three other organizations to send the CCT beneficiaries new Tagalog and bilingual books, and footwear.
The Weekly Window: Joining a Community Bank in South Sudan
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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.
Meet the Five Talents Family (Via Video!)
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If you're reading this post, you've most likely thought a lot about global poverty. Perhaps you've given to Five Talents or another poverty-fighting organization. If you've visited Five Talents' website before, you've been exposed to bits and pieces of our story. You know that we partner with local organizations to set up savings and loan groups that also serve as hubs for other anti-poverty measures – like business skills training, literacy programs and even free health clinics. You get that Five Talents focuses on under-served communities in far-flung places and works mostly with women.
But sometimes it helps to know more about the organization – beyond the stories of lives transformed, beyond the numbers in the annual report. It helps to hear from the people who are actually working there. What makes them tick? What part of the mission to fight poverty, create jobs and transform lives resonates most with Five Talents staff members? What gets volunteers to host neighborhood fundraisers or come into the office to stuff envelopes?
Well, we're about to tell you.
This week we are releasing the first in a new series of short, 60-second videos in which Five Talents staff, volunteers and board members talk about their place in the Five Talents family.
Kicking off the series is McKenzie Butler, our program officer. We'd love it if, after you're done watching the video, you would share it with your friends on Facebook!
Interested in signing up for our e-newsletter or volunteering? Please click here.
Depicting Poverty in Fiction: A Conversation with Acclaimed Novelist Adam Johnson
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Every so often on this blog, we recommend books that touch on poverty, microfinance or global development. Many of these deal with the mechanics of poverty alleviation – best practices, worst practices, arguments for and against specific policies and approaches. As thought-provoking as these books may be, they rarely channel what goes on in the hearts and souls of the impoverished.
I recently read Adam Johnson's remarkable novel, The Orphan Master's Son, which was just released in paperback. The story focuses on a young man in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and sketches a portrait of survival amid extreme poverty and harsh totalitarian rule. Five Talents does not work in North Korea – in fact, few organizations do, but I sought out the author, a creative writing professor at Stanford University who has traveled in the DPRK, in order to talk about his artful and moving depiction of what is one of the most destitute societies in all of the world.
Adam, thank you so much for agreeing to talk with us. As you wrote The Orphan Master's Son (OMS), how conscious were you of "poverty" as a theme? Or was "poverty" simply part of the story's context?
First of all, Charlie, thanks for the interview. I'm really in admiration of some of the good works you are doing. And I'm happy to be talking today. When you think about poverty, there are many places in the world that are pretty dire right now. But in terms of really being on the brink, on the edge of starvation, with almost no margin of error, you can't think of a more prime candidate than the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
[But] my only cause for writing the book was to try to find the human dimension of a world in which great suffering and great despotism is a daily occurrence and survival jeopardizes basic human relationships and societal orders. Getting that human dimension was all I was after. I wasn't really trying to illuminate anything in particular for a reader, but I will say that most of what we know about North Korea is based on the testimonials of defectors. I've read countless accounts of people [who] talk about the hard choices they have to make -- about losing family members to starvation and watching other people die for basic needs, like fuel to heat their homes, things of this nature. I felt really beholden to get that right and to get that sense of poverty and need and dire life conditions onto the page. I did feel it was a mission, so indirectly I think that's true.
During your time in the DPRK, how much poverty were you actually able or allowed to see?
Wow, that's a good question because, of course, it's a highly controlled state. Everything is scripted. [The government] tries to ensure that nothing that doesn't glorify the regime comes under the purvey of visitors. So we had several minders watching us at all times, videotaping everything we said, taking us only to the most lavish of sites. But, as I said, even though they controlled the four sites they took us to, people from the countryside were constantly coming in. And you could see very clearly the narratives written on the bodies of people who labored in the sun, who were subsistence farmers, who had probably no access to healthcare as we know it, who had never visited a dentist, and who just had the most basic of things to survive in the world.
Food is very controlled there, so you can't scavenge for [things like] wild ginseng unless you have permission to do it. And there's a very clear harvesting season for chestnuts, which starts in September. When I was there in August I saw a family in a public park very furtively stealing chestnuts from a public tree. It was quite a dangerous endeavor. I had to think that those people were really in survival mode to take a big risk as a family and risk imprisonment. Of course, I didn't get to talk with them and ask them if that's exactly what they were doing, but they seemed very nervous and very scared for what they were doing.