People often ask me: “What is poverty?” Is the face of poverty the 767 million people around the world who live on less than US$1.90 a day? Or is it much more than a low income?
Poverty means you have limited access to your basic needs, such as nutritious food, clean water, healthcare and education. You are also more likely to experience hunger and poor sanitation and develop preventable illnesses, diminishing your capacity to work. As this cycle repeats itself, it is clear to see why families living in poverty struggle to survive.
Opportunity International Australia gives people living in poverty a hand up through microfinance. Opportunity provides families with small loans to grow income-producing businesses, as well as providing health education, school fee loans, agricultural finance and access to improved sanitation and clean water.
As loan recipients create successful businesses, their profits have a ripple effect. With an increased income, a family can begin to afford nutritious food, proper shelter, medical care and education for its children. Plus, as businesses expand, many go on to employ others – creating jobs for people in the community and boosting the local economy.
One of Opportunity’s loan recipients is Edita. Not long ago, Edita didn’t sleep well at night, counting what little money her family had and trying to work out how her children would get enough food to survive. Sometimes, she would cry herself to sleep.
But thanks to Opportunity’s generous supporters, Edita and her husband Odelon have been able to use small loans to grow a canteen and sari sari (grocery) store in their town of Pagbilao in the Philippines. The business earns them Php.5,000 (A$134) a week – enough to provide for their four children. “Our family is now able to eat three meals a day. My kids can even have fish if they want it. We were slowly able to build the business from a small loan. Some people say, ‘You are successful now.’ And I tell them, ‘It’s because of the small loan we got.’”
Edita and her family have even been able to show their own generosity – taking in an elderly woman with hearing loss who had been bullied. They built a room for her to live in safely next to their store. “I always say, ‘We have been helped by other people. I want to share the blessing with others.’” Learn more in Opportunity’s 2016 Annual Review.