It started with a whisper.
She leaned in closer to me, careful to ensure the other dinner guests didn't hear her.
"What he doesn't know is I purchased land in my name. With my money. Not his."
We were sitting in a modest home in Uganda, when she confessed that her husband wasn't at the party because he was having an affair and spent most of his time at a local bar. After years of physical abuse, she admitted, her new job enabled her to finally put an escape plan in place for her and her young children.
Another powerful story happened this summer on a farm in Kenya. A happily married couple for over thirty years, James and Margaret never had enough money to send their children to secondary school. That all changed when they bought an irrigation pump and turned their garden plot into a two acre, profitable cabbage farm.
Now their eight-year-old daughter dreams of becoming a pilot.
She's never been on a plane. Never met a pilot. But she learned about one in school.
"Do you think she can do it?” I asked James.
"I tell her," he said loudly, looking over to ensure she was within earshot, "Anything she sets her mind to, anything at all, if she works hard she can achieve it."
Each person I've met over the last three years has an arch in their story. A point when their challenges suddenly lightened and their job gave them something to hope for. They became reborn with purpose and pride.
A couple of years ago, Esther, our photographer, was collecting photos of well mechanics in India for the new site. As she lined everyone up, a mechanic stepped forward and asked why she wanted his picture. She explained why and his response floored her.
"Wow. Really? Someone in America wants to see me?” he asked.
Esther said he looked at her, straightened his uniform and replied with a huge grin,
"This is the best day of my life."
The solutions to ending poverty are complex. They require strength, grit and a determination to forge ahead until people are thriving. But the decision to give, to dedicate your life to helping others, should be easy.
I am forever grateful for the thousands of people who have joined us. Individuals who share our belief that dignity and opportunity should not be reserved for a chosen few.
You’ve turned our whisper into a movement. You have built this.
Thank you for believing that a job can give a woman the courage to hold her head up, and a child the dream to fly. You’ve given someone the best day of his life.
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You can give more people the opportunity to thrive.