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Friday, February 25, 2011

A Woman To Woman Look at OPPORTUNITY INTERNATIONAL

As February draws to a close, we asked one of our team members, Jasmine, young, very aware of global, social issues and raising a daughter by herself, how she relates to the women in developing countries that are supported by Opportunity International, our Organization Of The Month. Here her thoughts:

Everybody knows our country is in financial crisis. It's nearly impossible to escape the daily news reports on our own economic downfall. But what about our brothers and sisters in developing countries around the globe? If we all expanded our attention toward a more global focus, we would see that we are not alone. In fact, we would realize that many families are struggling much more than us here in America. From the estimated 1.3 billion people in poverty, 70% are women.
This is a statistic I can personally relate to. As a single mother, daily survival in our economy is a tricky game to play. Luckily there are organizations such as Opportunity International, who work hard to support women in poverty by providing small business loans through micro-finance institutions. This empowers women to invest in themselves and their families. Women by nature have an entrepreneurial spirit, particularly single mothers like myself. When the plummeting economy came knocking on my door I did not invite it into my home! I did what many women in this country do. I became self-employed. This is not a simple task to succeed at alone, but there are thousands of possible jobs which one can do in order to sustain a self-employed income. For me, I chose to work in the domestic services industry. The trick is to be as versatile as possible! I've been a nanny, a housekeeper, in home senior care, special needs caretaker..... the list goes on. I also use my creative abilities to make and sell crafts around my community. Where there's a will there's a way. 
It is exactly that kind of "can't knock me down" spirit that Opportunity International sees in the women who they help. Studies show that when given the chance to build and expand a business, women will reinvest their income into their families and their communities. This makes perfect sense to me. Women will go to the ends of the earth to provide for their family and their "village". Is it possible that women could be our greatest investment in ending global poverty? Opportunity International believes this to be true, and I do as well. Since I became self-employed 3 years ago, the quality of my life and my family's life has greatly improved. Aside from having better financial stability, I have gained more freedom in my schedule, giving me the ability to be more involved in my child's education, to spend more time bonding and watching her grow and to be a bigger part of my entire family. I am living proof that when people extend a branch of faith in our abilities to build a sustainable business, anyone within our reach can benefit from the outcome. Take Rosemary Namande for example, AKA "Mama Rosemary". Mama Rosemary is an educator in Uganda, Africa and is one of the many women who realized her dream with the help of Opportunity International. She was able to open an elementary school that also serves as an orphanage to the staggering numbers of children in poverty. Rosemary has said, "Love for children is deep in my heart, God has blessed me with the ability to care for hundreds of them". Without the help of micro-finance institutions, like those affiliated with Opportunity International, Mama Rosemary may have never been able to open her school and most, if not all of the children she cares for, would be helpless and homeless. Visit the Opportunity International website at http://www.opportunity.org/ to read more of their success stories. If you would like to contribute to Opportunity International, simply become a ShopAnthropist like me by visiting http://opportunity.nonprofitshoppingmall.com/shop/apps
 Jasmine
jgallo@nonprofitshoppingmall.com

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