On June 2nd, 2010, I was invited to speak to approximately 40 people who are friends or supporters of Rwanda and Opportunity International. Many have been to Rwanda or have been supporting Rwanda in various ways. Abigail, Regional Director for Opportunity International US arranged the gathering.
I was priviliged to speak to them about Rwanda, Urwego Opportunity Bank and what God is doing through UOB.
Many became convinced or re-assured that microfinance plays a pivotal role in helping reduce the global poverty. With so little money, it impacts the lives of the poor so much economically, socially and spiritually.
When you give things for free (relief), the recipients feel inferior to the givers, no matter how humbly you give. The recipients usually can not look into the eyes of the givers. It is because a vertical relationship is established between the givers and the recipients.
But not so with the microfinance. The lenders and the borrowers are on the level fields. The borrowers appreciate the opportunity to access capital, but they can look straight into your (leners) eyes, saying "Thank you for the help, but I have done my share. I have paid it back and my life has improved this much. I am proud of it!" When one learns how to fish, he can feed himself for the rest of his live, perhaps his family. This is far different from giving him fish to eat. The fish will serve as one meal, but he will need another fish tomorrow. Relief is not the solution for the global poverty although I admit that there is a role for relief when there is a crisis that dibilitates people from survival.
I am so glad that the Lord has called me into microfinance. There are a lot to learn and to do, but my desire alone cannot do much. So I have to surrender for Him to do His work His way in His time. It is not easy, but I will not give up because He has never given up on me. Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness. - Jeffrey