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A Thanksgiving Gift

By Lydia Baldridge Meier

Two days before Thanksgiving here in the United States, many of us are preparing to spend time with family. For those of you, like me, who do not live near your extended family, the holiday takes on particular importance as it presents a chance to spend time in gratitude with loved ones. I am fortunate that I have another family – I have worked at Opportunity International for more than a dozen years, and I consider not only my colleagues but all of our clients my family. I collect stories and quotes from my adopted global family, cherishing their successes and praying for their futures. You, too, are part of this Opportunity family – so I am sharing a few of my favorite client testimonials as a gift of Thanksgiving to you.

Helene Tokodina, Kinshasa, DR Congo

“Before, I couldn’t feed my family even on the cheapest fish. I could not send the children to school and at least twice or three times per week the entire family went to sleep having tea only. Today, thanks to Opportunity, my family life changed because I can offer my children better nutrition plus the possibility of schooling for two of the older children so far. I feel joy and esteem especially in the church because I can now give back by assisting additional orphans there. I feel more secure and less anxious about my family’s future. My husband is jobless, and I have been able to meet the basic needs of my family which I think has made him see me with new eyes.”

Loan Officer Moses Wandera, Bungoma, Kenya

“It feels really good to know that I help ensure that families have food on their table every single day.”

Afsa Mukakalisa, Trust Group President, Kigali, Rwanda

“It pleases me to know that people trust me to be their leader. Whenever I am chosen to lead, I feel prepared. No matter what position I am given, I will always feel responsible to be a good leader doing whatever task is required.” Afsa also served a leadership position in the truth and reconciliation village courts following the genocide.

Humphrey Omulubi Ngonga, Regional Manager, Eldoret, Kenya

“My staff are in the business of peace and love. We emphasize the need for more than one tribe in each trust group. We encourage and remind trust group members that we should love each other. We should not let politics separate us because we are the same. Our friendship is our peace. We are one. We are one. Where there is God, there is no fight. There is no misunderstanding."

Jose Alonzo, Philippines

“I also want to create more jobs in the community and be able to share God’s blessings. I don’t take the credit, because the Lord has used me as an instrument.”

Lina Turtoga, Pangasinan, Philippines

“It is God who really leads the business.”

Ama Kobi, Accra, Ghana

“I really feel that God has blessed my family with this loan to give us a nice place to live and improve our daily life”

Ivy Zakunja, Rural Malawi

“I would not bank without the mobile van. I was rejected from other banks; it is the first time that I am able to save. Your loans are not oppressive, but empowering.”

Carlos, Cartagena, Colombia

"I do not accept handouts, Opportunity is my business partner. Opportunity is part of my own family, I can’t believe how my life has changed since that first loan of $200. I knew as a child I would be successful, but I never imagined I would operate my own business and provide all of the necessities for my wife and children. I haven’t forgotten the difficult times when I wasn’t sure if I could send the children to school or put them in proper clothing, and I won’t forget that Opportunity stood by me either."

Leidi, Bogota, Colombia

“It seems like only yesterday, I didn’t know how we would survive each day. Today, I allow myself to dream of a better future for my son.”

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