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India-Chennai

     

Marima had an idea—a good one, but the irregular income from her husband's mutton shop was barely enough to put food on their table. She often dreamed of opening a business alongside her husband's, but every morning, when she awoke to an empty cupboard, her hopes would vanish.

But then, while participating in her Self-Help Group (a savings group with other women in her community), Marima heard about the loan capital that Five Talents offers to qualified individuals in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Madras in India. It turns out she was a strong candidate for a loan: After all, she was familiar with business since she had helped her husband with his. She knew the local market, and she knew what void her business could fill.

So with a $125 dollar loan, Marima began to live out her dream. The money paid for a few varieties of tea, and some small "tiffin"—food served for light meals—which her first customers quickly bought. After a few months in operation, she began offering breakfast, too. Today, she is making a profit of about $3.25 to $3.75 per day, a part of which goes to repay her loan. Without the Five Talents microloan, she might still be dreaming of a business, rather than running one.

Five Talents began funding the India-Chennai program in early 2005 in response to the devastation caused by the tsunami of 2004. The unprecedented loss of human life and destruction primarily impacted the poor in rural areas like South India, where survival revolves around subsistence industries, such as fishing. Click here to read more about the program.

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On Friday, I traveled to the Village of Palanadukuppam in South India. (It was the first village I visited in 2005 -- just four months after the Tsunami.) I met about 10 women who had formed a Self-Help Group soon after we had visited. We asked them how their lives had changed since that fateful day when the waves destroyed the only life they knew -- that of fishing.

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Today, I was able to return after four years to a project that is very dear to my heart. In March of 2005, a group from the Diocese of Virginia, led by Sheila Iswariah, came with me to the fishing villages on the coast near Chennai. Just four months before, these villages had been devastated by the Tsunami that took thousands of lives on the day after Christmas 2004. Five Talents, in partnership with the Diocese of Madras (Anglican), within months established a small microcredit and savings program to help those who had lost everything regain their hope and dignity. You see, fishing was not just a livelihood it was a way of life and now all their boats were washed away along with nets and even their homes.

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Sayani’s story is not rags to riches but, more importantly, from tragedy to a new life. She is now a confident wife, a mother of two and a businesswoman. She wasn’t like this before joining a Self Help Group that helped her secure a microcredit loan.

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Sayani_and_daughterThanks to the Self-Help Groups that Five Talents started in South India after the 2004 Tsunami, Sayani has grown from a timid member of a savings group to a leader in her community.

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