Faith and Finance…
“When I was a little girl, our family was fairly wealthy and yet we lived near a village that was poor. I was embarrassed with our wealth and I can remember taking off my shoes on the way to school and hiding them in the bushes so that I would be barefoot like my friends. I wished our family didn’t drive to church when others were walking.”
Those early feelings have stayed with Mary and profoundly impacted her career choices and mission in life. As a newlywed, Mary volunteered in a community where, due to AIDS, most of the children were raised by grandparents. There was a missing generation in the homes. She worked with the children to help them learn to plant vegetable gardens and think about how to help their families survive. Where ever Mary is, her passion to help the abject poor get out of poverty goes with her. As a student at Africa International University/NEGST, she was offered the position of Africa Director for the Global Bag Project (www.globalbagproject.com) and it is her task to identify women who want to sew reusable, environmentally friendly shopping bags in order to make money to feed their families. “I have observed that a woman’s income goes home.” That is not always so with men.
“Micro-finance programs that I have studied, prove that women committing to each other in small groups, with accountability and trust provides one of the best ways to help themselves out of poverty. Handouts are over, it is time to give a hand up and help women change their lives. I would say to the west, rather than give a donation, give a loan. Build self-worth and pride in our women of Africa.”
Mary’s present desire is to develop a study guide for women in small micro-finance groups. It would be a guide that would teach life skills, financial principals, peace building, marketing and the useful tools to help women learn and grow together. Mary is one of the future women leaders on the continent.