Last week, around 1,000 students of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif. gathered for Chapel with special guest speaker Kadita “A.T.” Tshibaka. Tshibaka, a member of the Opportunity International Board of Directors, inspired the students with his life story, speaking to them about growing up in poverty in the Democratic Republic of Congo, telling them how he was given the opportunity to get an education and move to the U.S. to attend Dartmouth College.
The story of A.T.‘s life demonstrated to the students what a person with very little can do when offered an opportunity. He told the students that he feels privileged to be able to speak to them, grateful for the success he has had by the grace of God.
Then, the students were offered the chance to make a difference themselves and directly impact the lives of people living in poverty. A group of 20 Westmont alumni and friends of the college, in cooperation with the student-run Business and Investments Club, donated 441OptINnow $25 gift cards to the students so that they can fund the loans of Opportunity International entrepreneurs working their way out of poverty.
Plus, Westmont students have the unique opportunity to increase their impact. Through the generosity of anonymous donors, every student’s donation beyond their gift card, made through the Westmont College group on OptINnow, will be matched.
Dusty Baker, Westmont senior and president of the Business and Investments Club, is spearheading microfinance involvement on campus. He co-organized the event along with the club vice-president, senior Jay Howard, and senior Aaron Cooke, who heads Save the World, an international development group on campus.
Baker reflected, “The students’ enthusiasm was great. We had a lot of people asking for ways they could get involved on top of funding. I think the overall response was that college students like the fact that their seemingly small investment gets someone that much closer to achieving their entrepreneurial goal.”
Cooke agreed: “The big success of the Chapel event and gift cards was not only the positive change that was enacted in the physical circumstances of those receiving the loans. Just as important was the paradigm shift it engendered in the students, who saw, many for the first time, that they could make a real and substantial difference in the lives of the poor through the power of microloans.”
The OptINnow event at Westmont College is testament to the power students have to improve the lives of people living in poverty. Every donation, every opportunity, no matter how small, can make a difference. Students looking to get involved in the work of Opportunity should visit http://www.opportunity.org/be-involved/students/. You’ll learn how you can join the fight against global poverty through microfinance, including how to apply to be our Campus Coordinator at your school. For more, visit http://www.opportunity.org/be-involved/students/.