Stories of Women at the Forefront of Fighting Poverty…
What is it about us gals? We are smart, caring, industrious and intuitive. We definitely can go the extra mile and then some. Nowhere is this demonstrated more than in the developing world where it is safe to say, women are hauling their share of the workload and more. Due to poverty and out migration of men it is often the women and girls that carry the brunt of the household chores such as fetching vital water, looking after the animals and crops and providing food and care to for the family.
As many may well know, a number of studies over the years have revealed that when women are in charge of household finances, more resources are spent on the family’s well-being. This is especially true in developing nations where it has been shown that the more a woman earns and controls, the more likely the family is to be better nourished and the children to attend school. It is therefore considered good policy to focus development projects on women, helping to bring them resources to better their lives and the lives of their families.
Though HOPE International Development Agency doesn’t exclusively work to better the lives of only women, indeed they happen to be the brunt of recipients of HOPE’s sustainable livelihood development programs. Mrs. Toek Oeun is the perfect example of how HOPE works to improve the lives of women, helping them to fight poverty in their own backyard. I’m sure many of you are familiar with Mrs Ouen through the pages of Being-A-Broad magazine. She is the “happy” woman depicted in many of the ads that have run this year and if you haven’t had a chance to read Mrs. Ouen’s story, let me introduce her…
Mrs. Toek Ouen’s story: In 1994 Mrs. Ouen was landless, penniless and hopeless. She had very little means to provide for her ailing husband and two children and because of her situation, the kids could not attend school. They were required to work with Mrs. Ouen as hired help, often earning less than $0.50 a day. Mrs. Ouen attempted to scratch out a bit of self-sustainment from the small plot of ground surrounding her house but couldn’t devote the time to agriculture that she needed and didn’t have the water resources to be productive. At that time she could only grow a small number of vegetables, enough to fill only about five baskets per month and far fewer than her family needed to survive.
Fast forward five years and the picture is completely different. With the help of HOPE International Development Agency, Mrs. Oeun was able to receive a well, which has provided her clean and healthy water for her family and the ability to grow more than she ever could before. The well was just the steppingstone that she needed to prove her resourcefulness and start the climb out of poverty. She now grows over 40 baskets of a wide variety of produce and has surplus to sell for extra income. In addition she has taken part in other integrated HOPE programs and has received a cow to help in her composting and workload, ever increasing both her productivity and assets. She has started her own charcoal making business and has purchased more land for more production of her various goods. She is a true entrepreneur in every sense and because of that her family has benefitted. Both kids are in school and the hope for the end of the cycle of poverty for the Ouen’s is great.
Mrs. Ouen’s story is inspiring but it doesn’t stop there. HOPE is working to not only help women in the developing world but also working to connect compassionate women here with those overseas to see even more stories like Mrs. Ouen’s. Enter Anna…here is her story…
Anastassia Iankova’s story: Anna is also a hard working mom, living and working in Tokyo for the past 10 years. Originally from Russia, Anna has always had a heart to help make a difference in the lives of others. She and her husband have been active to sponsor a child in Africa, which left her curious to know more about overseas development. Even so, she couldn’t picture herself actually going to a developing country and working and living with the poor. That all changed one day when she picked up Being-A-Broad magazine [March 2010] and read the story of Lisa Bachman and Claudia Werlin and their adventure to Cambodia to see the water projects supported by HOPE Japan.
Inspired, Anna thought that this might be her chance to connect firsthand with people in the developing world and make a difference. As a result, she reached out to HOPE and joined the 2010 UNION trip (an acronym that stands for Understanding Needs In Other Nations) to Davao on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. This year’s team visited and worked with a group of special students at Pamulaan University who are members of various tribes of indigenous peoples (IPs) and who, due to their families’ daunting poverty, would have no other opportunity to obtain a college education if it weren’t for the support of HOPE and its many generous friends.
Anna was touched by the vision and enthusiasm of the students, especially after the opportunity to visit the home village of a few of them. There she learned of their true struggle with poverty, a life of getting by day to day, no electricity, no water, no comforts of what she takes for granted as a working mom in Tokyo. In fact, even the road to the village put a new spin on “transportation headaches” for this Tokyoite. The team was initially put off by the prospect of having to ride “triple” on the back of a motorbike for nearly two hours just to get there but she later admitted it was one of “most memorable” adventures of the trip…that and being inundated by the warm welcome of the entirety of the village children upon their arrival. Getting to understand the real issues faced by these students has inspired Anna to spread the word now that she is back in Tokyo. As she puts it, even though people from Japan can visit the Philippines, unless you get out of your hotel and out of Manila, you’ll never see the need that exists.
And the needs do exist but HOPE is working to meet them. Through scholarships not only do these students have the opportunity to better their own lives but the program builds in a grant that enables these students to devote two years post-graduation to going back to their village and utilizing their education to promote sustainable development projects to help improve the lives of their relatives, neighbors and broader community.
Your story…becoming a member of the HOPE-JP family. You can also be a woman of change and make a difference to help end poverty. As we enter 2011, HOPE-JP will be marking its 10th year of extending compassion to the neglected poor. Although there is much to be proud of there remains much to do and many families to reach.
By becoming a member of HOPE-JP the financial impact on your life (a monthly donation of only 1,000 JPY/person or 1,500 JPY/ family) will be small compared to the impact you will make on the lives of women like Mrs. Ouen or the students of Pamulaan University. We urge you today to take the step and join the many, knowing that together we CAN make a DIFFERENCE!
Please contact us at email@example.com or call at 052-204-0530