Today, a total of 2,100 blogs, from 111 countries, using 43 different languages, are participating in the fifth annual Blog Action Day. Together, we’re all blogging today about one topic, to raise awareness and participation in an issue for good, and this year’s theme is, “The Power of We.” The theme is described as “a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet halfway around the world.”
When I heard the theme, one of the first people to pop into my head was Beduith. Beduith María Henao Beltran of Barranquilla, Colombia, is a perfect example of an Opportunity client who improved her life, her financial situation, and then used her voice to change something in her community for the better, encouraging her friends and neighbors to join her. (We gave a glimpse into Beduith’s story on page 6 of our Annual Report.)
A few years ago, Beduith got her first Opportunity International loan to expand her furniture repair shop, which she and her husband Moses Henao have operated out of their home for the past 17 years. The loans from Opportunity Colombia allowed them to buy the materials they need, and business training taught her how to manage her income and expenses to make the business even more profitable. With her increased income and financial security, Beduith was able to build a new home, send her children to school and even save some money for the future. Right now, the couple employs four people, but eventually Beduith wants to hire enough employees so that she and Moses can retire.
In winter, the streets of Barranquilla are clogged with mud and impassable, making daily life dangerous, unpleasant and inconvenient, which can also make it difficult for residents to get to their jobs and operate their businesses. Beduith refused to merely accept these conditions. As president of La Valle de Esperanza Trust Group, she rallied the members to raise matching funds for the local mayor’s street paving project. Together, they sold soup, hosted bingo, ran a dance event, and raised $7,200 for a new road that makes life easier, safer, cleaner and better for the entire neighborhood.
Beduith’s story is not unusual. When Opportunity’s clients can break out of the cycle of poverty, they get more than a steady income. They often find a hidden inner strength and take on responsibilities like holding public office, leading a church group, and standing up to take action for the good of the community. They inspire others and shape day-to-day life. It’s hard to believe Beduith was once shy and reserved! She now says, “God gave me the opportunity to grow and to help others grow too.”
Congratulations, Beduith. You’re an inspiration to us all, reminding us that wherever we live, we should stand up for the greater good.
Check out highlights from other Blog Action Day posts on “The Power of We.”