Children across the country are beginning the academic year. There's the requisite trip to the store for school supplies. The nice, new outfits. The big, yellow buses.
In many of the communities where Five Talents works, the situation is quite different. There's no school bus, because there are often no roads – only dirt paths. Classrooms have no electricity. What's worse, many children never even have a chance to attend school. Their parents simply can't afford the uniforms, pencils and notebooks.
However, because of Five Talents, this is changing.
Our savings, microcredit and business skills training programs help moms and dads establish a sustainable micro-enterprise that can provide for their family and pay for their children's education.
The success of our programs – and these parents' micro-enterprises – trickles down into the family.
We have moms and dads joining our programs not only to improve their finances, but because they want their children to go to school – to learn to read and write, add and subtract.
Outside of Jakarta, Tina (pictured above with her children) is running a business selling snacks and drinks near a school campus. Before Five Talents and our partner in Indonesia, GERHATI, helped her launch this business, the former factory worker was unable to pay her children's school fees. But now she's earning enough to cover the cost of uniforms ($60 a year), books ($10 per semester) and after-school care ($10 a month).
Tina says that she wants her children to get the most out of school, so she does not ask them to do any housework. Her only request beyond studying hard? "Pray every day," she tells them.
In rural Peru, Francisca (on left) wakes her children every morning with a simple breakfast of oats, chuño and corn. "We have to eat very well because we have to go to the city on foot," she said.
With no other transportation options, journeys like this to school and work are the norm for Francisca and her family.
With the help of an initial loan of 500 soles ($167) from Five Talents, Francisca was able to put her children in school and launch a second micro-enterprise selling fruit in bulk.
Virginia in Burundi (pictured below) couldn't afford to send any of her five children to school before joining the local Five Talents literacy, financial education and microsavings program. But after building up savings and taking out a small loan of 20,0000 Burundian francs ($14), she began to sell cassava leaves, bananas and vegetables to two restaurants.
"I have gained much profit," she said. "With that profit, I have improved my family life conditions and sent two children to school."
On their first day of school, they wore shoes and uniform and carried a ruler and some pens in a new book bag. "I am the model in my community. Even my neighbors have joined a saving group after seeing my conditions changed," Virginia said, adding, "Even my children are very smart compared to others."
With that new pair of shoes, Virginia's children will be able to kick around a soccer ball with classmates. With those pens, they'll learn to write their name and balance a simple math equation. With the food that Francisca provides every morning, her kids will have energy to study hard. With the after-school care that Tina pays for, her kids will get assistance with their homework.
With Five Talents, families are being transformed – and their hopes for the future are being fulfilled.
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