THANK YOU! Together, we have crossed the finish line, exceeding our goal of raising $10,000 in just four weeks for my “Race to End Extreme Poverty”.  As we enter a new year, I am filled with enormous gratitude for everyone’s contributions.  Together, we raised a total of $12,940 ($10,920 online plus $2,020 in mailed-in contributions)!  Thank you!

The start of a new year always brings a sense of hope and expectation.  It is a time of reflecting on the last year and setting out new goals.   We live in a culture where we believe we have some control over our lives (and we usually do!), where we have the time, energy and resources to make things happen and to set out in new directions.

Sadly, this is not the case for those who live in extreme poverty.  In my video I shared the story of a woman named Susan who inspired me.  Another woman who made an impact on my life was Betty, who I met in Kenya.  She taught me how the struggle to find food, water, and firewood every day led her to despair, shame, and hopelessness.  She spoke to me of the social and emotional isolation created by these feelings.  She had no concept of the future; everything she did focused just on today – on finding food for her children to eat for this one day.  Seeing no way to change or improve her life, she felt trapped.

One day, Betty saw a group of people gathered under a tree.  She lingered at the edge to listen to the speaker.  He was a Business Mentor for Village Enterprise, conducting a training session for a group of new participants in the program.  That day she learned two new words:  saving and investment.  I was shocked to learn that a 34-year-old woman did not know the word ‘savings’.  This knowledge alone changed her perspective on life — the ideas that savings could build a buffer to tide her over during the ‘hunger season’, between the rainy seasons when crops did not grow, and that an investment in a small business could generate income.

Soon thereafter, Betty sought out the Business Mentor and joined the Village Enterprise program.  When I met her, she operated a business raising goats and pigs with a group of other women.  She now has what we take for granted at this time of year:  hope, a sense of purpose and expectation, and goals for the future.

Please know that the gifts you made to the Race to End Extreme Poverty will bear much fruit. The incomes and savings generated by the small businesses your funds are starting will provide sufficient resources to enable 500 people to break out of extreme poverty.  But they will have more than freedom from extreme material poverty; they will break out of the psychological poverty that traps them emotionally and socially.

I welcome the New Year with gratitude for you and your support for this Race, and with great hopes and expectations for the new beginnings possible in the coming year, both for you and for people like Susan and Betty.

Wishing you many blessings in the New Year,

Debbie Hall

Debbie Hall
Board Chair