In October of 2012, Covenant World Relief (CWR), which participates in God’s transforming mission in the world through disaster relief and community development among the most vulnerable, had called representatives together from the Caribbean, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico and invited them to Medellin to talk about their ministry practices and share the ups and downs of their journey. Each one of the representatives was involved in some form of community development and/or transformational project or ministry, compassion ministry, or outreach foundation. It was an amazing week of seeing and hearing the amazing quality and effectiveness of the work going on in many various communities with a variety of challenges, opportunities and needs—agricultural development, cooperative neighborhood banks, micro-enterprise consulting, conflict resolution, biblical response to violence, sex-trafficking, and prostitution, community health programs, outreach to victims of forced displacement or economic displacement, education programs, human rights advocacy, and the list goes on. We were blessed to be a part of this event. And we wondered if anything would come of it. Would any further partnerships be formed?
It wasn’t long before the Hands With Hope Foundation started thinking seriously about learning from the Fuentes Libres ministry of Oaxaca, Mexico. The Hands With Hope Foundation is beginning to offer small business loans to those women who complete training in order to help them begin their own business. But, Hands With Hope really does not possess much experience or knowledge to realize this hope and vision. Because of the few days together last year, they saw a possibility to partner and learn together. Fuentes Libres provides holistic micro-finance to marginalized families by creating savings and loans groups consisting of 12 to 20 women and providing affordable micro-loans and financial training and support. Fuentes Libres works with up to 30 of these small communities of women that are self-sufficient with a solid, self-replenishing financial pool from which the group can continue lending. Oaxaca is the second poorest state in Mexico and Fuentes Libres provides critical lending to women who are often unable to receive funding from other local banks or cannot afford the interest payments.
CWR likes and encourages this type of partnership and collaboration around the world as it was a theme of the time together. CWR has been a key part of the conversation between Fuentes Libres and Hands With Hope and have encouraged this partnership. Logistics don’t always make these partnerships feasible because of distance, schedules, etc. But, in this case, it is a reality. Yesterday women from Hands With Hope gathered together to pray for the three women and encourage them in this endeavor. All their bags are packed and the three women from Hands With Hope will be traveling this weekend for Oaxaca to spend two weeks experiencing first hand Fuentes Libres work in the small communities of women. There is a lot of expectation and hope that what is going on in Oaxaca can be translated and implemented in Medellin and in other parts of Colombia.