As we try to squeeze in just one more Christmas party and one more meeting so we get everything finished before the holidays, I’m reflecting on 2017 and the immense impact Opportunity International Australia’s supporters had this year in the lives of families living in poverty.
Because of the generosity of Opportunity’s supporters in 2017, thousands of families in Asia can live lives free from poverty, free of preventable illnesses, free of domestic violence. These families now have choices, the opportunity to make decisions, the tools to reach their potential. Our supporters are changing the world!
Great things happened in our programs in Asia during 2017. Growth exceeded expectations in India, the Philippines and Indonesia. By growth I mean we helped thousands more families to lift themselves out of poverty – with small loans to grow businesses, water and sanitation programs so they can access clean water and build toilets to improve their health, and school fee loans so more kids can go to school, receive the education they need to break the cycle of poverty in which their families have been trapped for generations.
This year, when I visited some of the families Opportunity helps, I felt blessed to see hope and joy in their faces. I saw it in the way they talked to us about what they expect for their future, their children’s future, that their kids are going to quality schools, being educated. Daughters who can read, maybe for the first time in the family’s history. Time after time, women say to me: ‘My daughter is the first girl in our family to learn to read, finish high school, go to university.’ When I talk to women who’ve received small loans from Opportunity, are running little businesses, changing their families’ lives, I see real hope for the future and it’s hope that their children will grow up differently, won’t raise their kids in the same village or slum conditions, will have real chances and opportunities in their lives. For them, these dreams are now achievable, a reality.
I saw great progress in the day-to-day lives of the families we visited this year. Families who are healthier, can work because they drink clean water and use toilets for the first time ever, families who are healthier because one of our health leaders taught them to wash their hands or use sanitary napkins, families who live peacefully because domestic violence has stopped. Women who are now businesswomen, empowered, leaders in their local communities.
I saw all these changes on my visits to Asia and it’s because of the generosity of Opportunity’s supporters. Our supporters are making a tangible difference in the lives of families living in poverty, I want to thank you so much.
We have ambitious goals for 2018 and with your support we’ll continue to help families live lives they could only have dreamed about last Christmas. I wish you a very happy Christmas and a safe and relaxing holiday season.
See you in 2018.
Global Executive Director, Opportunity International and CEO, Opportunity International Australia