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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Words on Poverty Still Ring True

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the following in 1967"The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil. ... The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."

So much time has passed since Dr. King wrote these words, but they're still just as true today.

We can all do better at serving folks here in the US and overseas who don't know where their next meal will come from, or how they will buy clothes for their kids, or where they will sleep tonight.

A meal, a smile, a kind, encouraging word, some blankets, a warm shelter, a heartfelt prayer, a few dollars -- we'd probably be surprised to learn how much such small things like these can accomplish.

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Slideshow: The Year in Instagram Photos

We couldn't squeeze photos of all 72,725 women and men who participated in our micro-enterprise development programs during 2013 into this brief slideshow. But we picked about 30 favorites from our Instagram feed, mixed in a clip of Gungor's "I Am Mountain" (a great song!) and whipped up this musical collage as a thank-you to supporters like you.

You'll find photos of women and men whose lives are being transformed thanks to their participation in savings groups, loan groups and business skills training seminars.
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Jean in Myanmar: 'Starting a Business Has Helped Me Rely More on God'

Melia_LFTo the children swarming her tiny toy stand in Cileungsi, Indonesia, Melia (R) might as well have been Santa Claus.

The nearby school had let out for lunch, and before parents could corral their kids, some made a beeline Melia's treasure trove of Pokemon cards, Play-Doh packages, Winnie the Pooh books, and toy cars.

One girl settled on some stickers and turned to her mother to ask for money. Moments later, Mom was fishing a couple of bills out of her purse.

Melia is just one of many micro-entrepreneurs I met during my recent visit to our programs in Indonesia and Myanmar (Burma). During the trip, I was reminded of how God is using our micro-enterprise development programs – not only to improve the financial conditions of families, but to strengthen the faith of believers and to extend the work of the local church.

As we celebrate Christmas, the coming of Emmanuel – "God with us," it is my honor to explain how Five Talents is serving as Christ's hands and feet in some of the most downtrodden and impoverished communities in the world.

The slums of Jakarta. The Irrawaddy Delta of Myanmar. The mountains of Peru. The post-conflict regions of South Sudan and Burundi. Five Talents has been called to places like these, and I'm humbled to report that, because of God's blessing, lives are being transformed.

It is easy to consider only the economic impact our beneficiaries feel when they launch a new micro-enterprise, or improve on an existing one. For example, a woman makes crackers out of cassava leaves to put a child through school. A water distribution business provides a community's first regular access to clean water.

Indeed, in each of our programs, parents are creating a steady, sustainable income and learning how to budget their finances. Children are going to school with new uniforms and the required textbooks. Women are making savings deposits and preparing their families for future expenses that might otherwise stall the growth of their micro-enterprise. Communities are growing more united.

But there's more. We've found that women and men, after joining our programs, become more hopeful. Many report that their spiritual lives are maturing, and that their faith is growing.

Phoebe_Group2I remember one such example vividly. I'd just spent the good part of an afternoon running a budgeting workshop for women in the "Phoebe" savings group in Yangon, Myanmar (L).

Near the end of our time together, some of the women shared how their spiritual lives had begun to change since joining a savings group and launching a new micro-enterprise.

"Starting a business has helped me rely more on God," Jean, who sells cosmetics, told me.

Her testimony was echoed by other members in her group.

Investing in a micro-enterprise – or any business, for that matter – can be scary. These women shared how, by taking a risk and seeking to do more with the resources and talents God has given them, they were being blessed far beyond their financial situation. Their spiritual lives were enriched. Their relationship with God was strengthened.

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Download and Read Five Talents' 2012-2013 Annual Report

AR1213_cover_smTo all of us here at Five Talents, November is an important month. It is around this time that we get to release our latest annual report and share stories, statistics and testimonies about the transformation that is happening across Asia, Africa and Latin America -- because of you.

Your prayers, advocacy and donations helped Five Talents serve 72,725 women and men in 2012-2013. As Dr. April Young, Chair of Five Talents USA's Board of Directors, puts it in her letter on Page 2 of the annual report, that is "72,725 stories" that each of you have played a role in over the last 12 months.

We are so grateful for the support of our friends and donors, and we trust that you will find our 2012-2013 Annual Report as inspiring as we do.

When you hear a woman like Matilda, in Bolivia, explaining how she challenged her family to save for their children's education; when you hear Consolate, in Burundi, attesting to her husband's transformation as a father and as an image-bearer of God; when you hear Nena, in the Philippines, explaining how she uses some of the profit from her micro-enterprises to help her neighbors, we hope you will also hear the voice of the Master saying to his faithful, trustworthy servant, "Well done."

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Paintings by Indonesian Artist Winnie Sidharta Ambron to be Featured at Fall Gala

3Our Fall Gala is less than a week away, and we're delighted to announce that the evening's silent auction will feature paintings by the artist Winnie Sidharta Ambron, who was born in West Java, Indonesia, and is now a guest lecturer at The Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio.

Two of Winnie's paintings will be on display at the gala. What's more, guests will be able to bid (silently) for a commissioned portrait of a subject of their choice -- a husband or wife, a grandchild, or even a pet.

Winnie's husband, Michael Ambron, also teaches at The Ohio State University, and he has donated two of his paintings for the silent auction. Michael was recently awarded the 2012 Dedalus Foundation M.F.A. Fellowship.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of their paintings will benefit Five Talents' microsavings and microcredit programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

We are grateful and honored that Winnie and Michael would share their work with us for the Fall Gala on October 18.

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Loan officers at Indonesian Non-Profit Play Role of Local Coach and Mentor

Loan Officers at Indonesian Non-Profit Play Role of Local Coach and Mentor

September 26, 2013

"In recent weeks, Nancy Palmarini has been visiting via motorcycle a small community that sits on the edge of a landfill on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, in the Cipayung Subdistrict. Most of the women there generate income for their families by scavenging for bottles, chunks of plastic and food, selling their finds for a few cents. Nancy, a community development officer with the Jakarta-based Gerhati Foundation, is trying to convince them that other opportunities for income are out there – beyond the waves of rubbish."

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5 (Good) Reasons to Attend Five Talents’ 2013 Fall Gala

5reasons_smThe Fall Gala on October 18 is our biggest fundraising event of the year. If you're on the fence about attending, here are a few reasons why you should register today:

1. You'll get to meet Claudette from Burundi.
You hear us talk a lot about the wonderful people we work with in our programs. Now, you get to meet one and learn, first-hand, how your dollars and advocacy for Five Talents are changing lives. Claudette, a Burundian woman who works with the microsavings program in Burundi, is coming all the way to Washington, DC to join us for the Fall Gala. Help us honor her – and the women and men she has devoted her life to serving – by attending on October 18.

2. You'll have a chance to bid on gorgeous lacquerware from Myanmar.
Our executive director, Sonia Patterson, recently returned from program visits to Indonesia and Myanmar. On full display at the silent auction will be an incredible collection of artifacts from around the world, including wood carvings from Indonesia, and gorgeous lacquerware from Myanmar. There will also be many other items up for bidding – including weekend getaways and jewelry. All proceeds from these silent auction items will help more women and men join savings and loan groups, receive training and develop their micro-enterprises. Register today so you'll have a chance to bid on these one-of-a-kind artifacts!

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Photos From the 'Open House' Held at Our New Office in Fairfax, Virginia

To celebrate our new office space in northern Virginia, we held an "open house" for friends, supporters and neighbors -- new and old -- on Thursday, September 19.

Eva, from our partner organization in Bolivia, Semillas de Bendicion (Seeds of Blessings), was our very special guest for the evening.

Below, you'll find some photos taken during the informal gathering. To view the full gallery, visit our Facebook Page.

Please note that while Five Talents has moved its offices, our phone numbers, P.O. box and primary mailing address remain the same. Donations made by check can still be sent to P.O. Box 331, Vienna, VA 22183. Or you can give online by clicking here.

Eva (L) talks with Five Talents Program Officer McKenzie Butler and Colleen Dyble (R), a former Five Talents Fellow.

Five Talents friends and supporters Joe Paulini (L) and Frankie Stahlhut are members of the Church of the Holy Comforter, in Vienna, VA, where Five Talents had previously based its US offices.

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