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Have you ever jogged a trail, walked a dog, or meandered through a park and come home totally and utterly transformed?
Perhaps you burned a few calories, learned something you never knew, or recharged thanks to a few moments of solitude, but were you changed? Did you return home with a new perspective about your place in the world?
Likely not. Upon coming through the door, you probably threw your keys on the table, kicked off your shoes, and moved on to some other activity. After all, there's always another task to tick off our lists.
Every once in a while, however, we are given an opportunity to participate in something special, something good, something with eternal ramifications. The two fellows that Jesus spoke with on the road to Emmaus certainly had a story to tell -- and re-tell a million times -- when they returned home from their walk.
"Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road?" they asked, shortly after "their eyes were opened" and they recognized Jesus.
Today, we're inviting you to participate in a journey that will transform the way you see the world. We want to introduce you to the women and men who are participating in savings groups, investing in micro-businesses, taking part in training workshops and striving to lead their families out of poverty.
We want to introduce you to folks like Deng in South Sudan, Edo in Indonesia and Simona in Bolivia. We want you to walk with them, participate in their lives, and -- at the same time -- transform your own.
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The transformation you unlock when you give to Five Talents looks a little different in each community.
For Edo in Indonesia, the transformation involved an expansion of her micro-enterprise and an escape from unhealthy living conditions.
Edo has built a micro-business around selling clothing, small electronics and – most recently – homemade fish crackers.
Business skills training and a series of micro-loans from Five Talents and our partner organization in Jakarta, The Gerhati Foundation
, helped Edo to grow her profits, which she and her husband used to construct a humble new home.
Today, they have a roof over their head, a solid brick wall around them, and a safe, dry space full of hope for the future.
"I did not have the courage to own a house before -- even the small one," she said. "With Gerhati and Five Talents, we have built a small house bit by bit from what we earn."
The program, she said, gave her the support and determination she needed to make her dream a reality.
The program has also brought Edo closer to her community: "I got help from neighbors and friends, as well, during the building progress. I believe this help came from God."
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An illness in the family, a severe rainstorm, a period of drought – such events can wreak havoc in the lives of the world's poor.
In January and February of this year, hundreds of women in Five Talents' Indonesia program saw their homes and communities flooded.
In the following months, Five Talents' local partner organization, The Gerhati Foundation, came alongside each affected family to provide relief packages and to help loan group members get their micro-businesses back on track.
One of these women, Karuni, runs a canteen that caters to neighbors, factory employees and auto repair workers in Bojong village, outside of Jakarta.
Before joining the program, she served only a few homemade dishes at her stand. After receiving her first loan, she began stocking items like shampoo, cigarettes and noodles. This diversification has boosted her profits and enabled the family to improve their living conditions.
"I didn't have a decent house before," said Karuni. "Now, we have managed to renovate the house little by little. It is my husband who has been building it -- we didn't hire a builder as it would cost a lot more."
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As the sun set in Lietnhom, South Sudan, Ajak returned to her mother's thatch hut empty-handed, and on the verge of tears.
The 27-year-old mother had been sent away from her ex-husband's home just days before, with three kids in tow. She had no means to provide for herself – much less her children.
"When I came home empty-handed, I thought that was the end of my life," she recalled.
This is the position that many of the women we serve find themselves in before joining our programs. They are mothers looking for hope who want something more for themselves – and for their children.
Supporters like you change the trajectory of these mothers' stories every time you give.
The circumstances might be different from community to community. But the same shared motherly desires to provide food, care and education for children are present no matter where those mothers live, whether in the slums of Jakarta, the villages of South Sudan, or the mountains of rural Burundi.
In Indonesia, Sulastri, 33, and her husband Guono, 36, could not afford to send their three kids to school. Books cost more than $70 per semester. Uniforms cost over $160 per year. This is a fortune for a family like theirs!
But Sulastri decided to start a micro-enterprise to help supplement her husband's income. She set up a small grocery stall, and with a loan from Five Talents' partner, The Gerhati Foundation, she expanded her stock and began to increase her weekly profit – all of which went to her children's education.
You see, Sulastri and Guono themselves have only a primary school education. They want to invest in the next generation.
Thanks to people like you, they are achieving this goal.
Today, their three children have uniforms, books and role model-parents who are giving all they have to unlock a better future for their children.
"Knowledge has more lasting value than money," said Sulastri, "because money can run out anytime, but knowledge stays."
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When Mother's Day rolls around on May 11, how will you celebrate the special women in your life?
Why not make a donation to Five Talents in honor of your mother, grandmother or wife and send a beautiful e-card featuring the story of Consolate in Burundi or Wohati in Indonesia?
We've just added two unique Mother's Day e-cards to our online gift catalog. Each features a Danish proverb on motherhood and comes attached with a brief story, like this one featuring Consolate (R):
A donation has been made in your honor to support women like Consolate in Burundi.
Consolate has received training in literacy and numeracy skills and has joined a savings group, where she has access to micro-business loans and further training in core business skills.
Last year, her husband Melance joined the savings group – marveling at its impact in Consolate's life.
She says with a smile, "This group has helped us and really strengthened us as a family."
Click here to send a Mother's Day e-card today, or bookmark this page and return on May 11.
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If the warmer weather has you itching to play a little golf, why not register today for the 2014 X-OUT Extreme Poverty Golf Classic?
Better yet, why not invite a few friends to join you?
On Monday, May 19, we'll gather at the newly renovated and redesigned Westwood Country Club in Vienna, Virginia to support Five Talents' microcredit and business skills training program in Indonesia.
Every person who registers will fund the cost of a $120 micro-loan. Recruit a team and you'll help as many as four micro-entrepreneurs access micro-loans and training in core business skills.
Keep in mind that players under 30 years old receive a 30 percent discount!
We've created a set of e-cards that you can browse and use to recruit a team. Each contains a humorous quotation about golf from the likes of Arnold Palmer, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
So give your golf buddies a laugh and invite them to join you in supporting micro-entrepreneurs in Jakarta, Indonesia.
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We often take our access to ATMs, neighborhood banks and credit cards for granted. For a majority of the world's poor, however, convenient, low-cost financial services are simply out of reach.
Such is the case for women and men living in slum communities outside of Jakarta, Indonesia.
Until Five Talents and our partner organization, The Gerhati Foundation, began working outside of Jakarta, micro-entrepreneurs' only option for borrowing money was often through loan sharks that charge exorbitant interest rates.
This video explains how Five Talents' programs give women access to micro-business loans, business skills training and mentoring.
Since the program's start in 2005, Five Talents and The Gerhati Foundation have served more than 10,000 people.
- In FY2013 alone, Five Talents distributed 2,382 micro-loans.
- 100 percent of the program participants receive training in core business skills.
- 100 percent are now able to send their children to school, thanks in part to the growth and development of their micro-businesses.
Click here to donate to Five Talents' work in Indonesia.
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Sumiyati's micro-enterprise involves making wedding accessories and renting bridal gowns. She has been in business for 13 years, and her success has made her a respected member in her community outside of Jakarta. As a loan group leader, she hosts regular group meetings in her home and helps to mentor other women who are just starting their own micro-enterprises.
You can support Indonesian women like Sumiyati by participating in our ongoing crowd-funding campaign.
In January, over 400 current loan group members in Indonesia were affected or displaced by flood waters. As the waters recede and people clean and rebuild, Five Talents and our local partner, the Gerhati Foundation, hope to make 250 business loans at an average cost of $100 per loan.