Today was a good day. It was one of those days where I learned of the profound impact of our work – it was made crystal clear through the voices of Episcopal Relief & Development program beneficiaries. These women participate in a micro loan program with our partner, the Ecumenical Church Loan Fund (ECLOF). ECLOF is a faith based micro finance institution that provides services to women’s self-help groups in areas affected by the 2004 tsunami, mainly as a way to enable them to increase their independence through creating economic opportunities.
I heard from Nirosha, a 39-year-old mother of two, who took out a small business loan to establish an embroidery business to make use of her traditional skills, passed through generations of her family (I bought a shirt from her!). And Anoma, a 51-year-old, who applied her loan towards increasing the production of cakes and sweets, mainly for sale at local guest houses and restaurants (but also for my tummy!). And Kamalawathi, who used her micro loan capital to expand her lace-making capacity and now employs other women as part of her growing business (I got a lovely lace tablecloth for my house from her!).
There are many more stories.
Many more women have participated in the micro loan program to become an essential wage-earner in their households in order to support their children’s education, take care of their family’s health needs and for longer term savings - all important solutions to poverty. Participation in the program has also empowered these women to play an increasingly critical leadership role in their community decision-making bodies.
Today was indeed a great day!