FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2011
Five Talents International
P.O. Box 331
Vienna, VA 22183
Area Golfers Team Up to X-OUT Poverty in Sudan
Vienna, Virginia — Five Talents held its 8th annual X-OUT Poverty Golf Classic at 1757 Golf Club in Dulles, Virginia, on June 9, raising $55,000 to be used, in part, towards its community banking, literacy and spiritual development programs in South Sudan.
Since 2007, Five Talents has been working with the Episcopal Church of Sudan, one of the largest civil society institutions in South Sudan, to provide curriculum and training for the formation of village banks and community-managed savings and credit groups. (The country is set to gain its formal independence on July 9, 2011.) Local community members are also taught basic business and financial management skills.
Thursday’s schedule of events began with breakfast in the golf club’s restaurant before moving to the golf course. About 70 golfers, making up 18 teams, enjoyed 1757 Golf Club’s expansive greens and—less so—the club’s multiple water traps.
After about five hours, the players retreated to the facility’s air-conditioned banquet hall for lunch, a presentation on Sudan by Five Talents Director of Program Suzanne Schultz, and a series of raffle drawings. Participants took home vacation home stays, gift certificates and bottles of wine, but the real winners were the people of South Sudan.
Schultz began her remarks, fittingly perhaps, by describing the weather in the African country.
“It’s hotter here today than it is in Sudan,” she said, before going on to describe the situation in South Sudan: “If all of the tables in this room were full and this was the population of South Sudan, [only] one table would be able to read and write. Only one table would live in some other dwelling other than a mud thatch hut.”
However, Schultz was not there to discuss the challenges facing South Sudan; instead, she asked everyone present to think about the opportunities. “The people there are so eager to get away from relief,” she said. “They are so eager to not be dependent. They want an opportunity to gain the skills they need to develop their own country and support their own family.
“Five Talents, four years ago, was part of a group that opened the first community owned bank in South Sudan… There are now 600 members of this bank. There is a local board of directors. And despite conflicts that still go on in Sudan, that bank is open and running and operating because it’s community-owned. They own it, they manage it and they protect it.”
Five Talents has since expanded its work to six states in South Sudan, and now, thanks to a matching grant challenge from a US-based foundation, the organization has a chance to make its impact in the new country even greater. Donations from first-time givers will be matched by the foundation if they reach $45,000—the annual cost of Five Talents’ program in Sudan.
“There are so many opportunities,” said Five Talents President and CEO Craig Cole, “and I know that you business people really understand the idea of taking a risk, starting a business, seeing how it can grow and seeing how we can then profit both our families and communities. That’s what’s happening now in Sudan—entrepreneurial opportunities. That’s what you can be a part of.”
Jeff Johnson, a member of the golf committee that helped to organize the event, expressed his hope that friends who are new to Five Talents will consider this opportunity to impact a newly-born country.
“Hopefully they will understand the mission of Five Talents and feel moved to become involved in some fashion,” said Johnson, of Johnson & Strachan Insurance in Fairfax, Virginia. “We hope to broaden the audience of support for Five Talents, and, obviously, you need new people to do that. There’s a great core of people that support Five Talents but you also need to bring new blood in to get it to strengthen and to grow.”
Established in 1999, Five Talents International has provided funding for business training and thousands of loans, ranging from $50 to $300, in 11 countries across Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. A majority of the loan recipients are women. Five Talents’ ongoing work is supported by a staff based in Vienna, Virginia, and an office in London. Hundreds of volunteers across the United States and United Kingdom participate in the organization. For more information and to donate, visit www.FiveTalents.org.