Empowered to Empower Others

2 comments Written on July 27th, 2010     
Filed under: Community Development
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One of the great joys of serving with Covenant World Relief is that I have opportunities to meet some amazing people who, often without much in the way of formal education and financial resources, have developed tremendous expertise in doing community development that is transforming the lives of people living in extreme poverty.

Earlier this month I went to Oaxaca, Mexico and met with some past and present leaders of Fuentes Libres, a foundation that was started 13 years ago with the dream of empowering poor indigenous women. Covenant World Relief provided a portion of the funding to begin community banks for women.

Boni and Issa, two of the founding members, shared the story of Fuentes.  It’s an amazing story of a small group of people who in spite of many hardships have developed a very sophisticated and extremely well-run micro finance program.  Boni and Issa are no longer with the foundation but they continue to serve as advisors and supporters of Fuentes.

In 2002, pastor Memo, a Covenant lay pastor, and his wife received a loan of about $200 from Fuentes. With that small loan they started a small restaurant in their yard. They have one table, a dirt floor, and a tarp overhead that protects from the rain. Even by Oaxaca standards they are still poor, but they are no longer living in poverty.  They have enough to take care of their family including sending their daughter to university. Memo explained that through their participation in the community bank they learned the importance of savings and biblical principles for managing finances.  Memo told me,  “Our lives were radically changed through this experience in the community bank.” After a few years he began volunteering with Fuentes and now he is serving as the chair of the board of directors. He receives no salary and he and his wife make monthly contributions to the foundation.

I also met a younger couple who recently benefited from being a part of a community bank. They have joined the Fuentes support group and now donate 100 pesos every month.  They have experienced transformation in their family and they want to be a part of helping others to be transformed as well.

Fuentes has a small paid staff (2), a small board of directors (3), and a small but growing group of local supporters and advisors. However this is one of the most well-run and effective micro-finance programs that I have seen.  Memo, who has developed a high level of expertise in micro finance, has agreed to help equip other CWR partners. Those who have been empowered and transformed are now empowering others.  Thanks be to God!

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2 comments “Empowered to Empower Others”

Gloria a Dios! Thank you for this post and I’m so glad you were able to see and hear first hand how God has used Fuentes and micro enterprise loans for his Kingdom. I would love to see my dear friends in Oaxaca offering their experiential wisdom with others looking to start a similar ministry. Blessings on CWR as they connect and partner with those serving the poor and working for justice in Jesus’ name!

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Thanks, Erika. Dave had a powerful time with you in Oaxaca and we are really looking forward to the ways we can continue to work together with Fuentes.

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