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Chicago, IL 60607

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© 2016 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Opportunity’s Olympic Champions

By Opportunity International

I love the Olympics. I come from an athletic family and growing up, our family ban on TV was always lifted for two events: the Olympics and the Tour de France. I love watching people push their bodies to the limit as they perform feats that I know are close to impossible, but that with all their grace and agility look so easy. I love the athletes’ background stories narrated by the iconic NBC host Bob Costas—often featuring someone who managed to persevere through tough times and finally see their goal through. People around the world are inspired by these stories, whether it’s by seeing a similarity between the Olympian’s story and their own, or just by the pure magnificence of someone pushing through circumstances that might have otherwise held them back.

Opportunity champion Felicitus Mmboge has worked hard to grow a successful business, Grace Hair and Beauty Products, in Nairobi, Kenya.  We root for teams, our countrymen and -women, to win and bring home the gold. We smile when the cameras focus on the ecstatic families in the stands cheering and dancing and crying and shouting and hugging all at once. If you’re a sap like me, at moments like that you may even shed a tear or two. Because as powerful as it is for us at home to see an athlete accomplish that Olympic victory, it is so much more meaningful for the supporters who have been with them every step of the way, who intimately know their background story. The athletes may be members of Team USA or Jamaica or Japan during that incredible 17-day experience, but you can bet that each and every one of them has a team–in the stands and at home–rooting for them, medal or not.

That support team is what Opportunity is for so many clients, our champions in places like Kenya, Colombia, the Philippines, and many more. Our champions may never stand on a podium for a medal ceremony or appear on international TV, but their stories of perseverance would blow those of many Olympians out of the water. They have dreams too; not of besting world records, but of affording a home with a real floor and roof, or sending their kids to school, or opening their own business and contributing to their community.

Felicitus’s “coach,” her loan officer Annie Wanjero, guides her and helps her reach her goals.Our champions are also members of teams, Trust Groups, collections of people who support and teach each other, who have their teammates’ backs should misfortune fall. The loan officers, branch managers, and local Opportunity leadership are these teams’ coaches, always available to give guidance and extra support to their champions. And then there’s the home “nation”–all of the Opportunity family-at-large–made up of international staff, donors, Insight Trip travelers, YAO members, even interns (!)–who are there to cheer on the champions as they stick every landing, flip every turn, jump every hurdle, and pass every ball with passion and grace.

Olympians show pride for the countries they represent. Just so, our clients are shining representatives of Team Opportunity. The whole network– individuals, teams, coaches and nation–comes together with a mission for success for each of these champions who put themselves on the line and give 100% every day.

So when you find yourself leaping off of your couch and screaming at your TV over the next two weeks, remember the other champions that are out there giving their all and succeeding thanks largely to your support. Because that’s the best part about our “Games”: you too can play a crucial role in the making of a champion.

This post was written by Elise Egan. She’s the intern in Opportunity’s International Education department, an avid cyclist, and a big fan of metaphors.

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