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Generosity's Many Faces: How You Can Get Involved with Five Talents

5 Ways to Get Involved with Five Talents from Five Talents on Vimeo.

As the busy fall season approaches, a million things will grapple for our attention. It is our hope that, amid the noise, you will remember the women and men struggling down poverty's road.

After all, there is no better time to come alongside them, and equip them, than today.

"Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present," Albert Camus once said.

But generosity need not only be writing a check, or making an online donation. When we give out of our wealth of time and energy and intellect, we are also being generous.

We'd love it if you would choose at least one of five ways to get involved with Five Talents. No matter where you are in life -- or in the world -- there is something you can do to help women and men in under-served communities gain access to savings groups, micro-business loans, business skills training and mentoring.

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2014 Fall Gala to Highlight Five Talents' Program in Myanmar

Gala promo image sm

On October 17, friends and supporters of Five Talents will have an opportunity to learn -- first-hand -- about the organization's newest program in Myanmar.

The 2014 Fall Gala, titled "Portraits of Empowerment", will feature a special guest and speaker from Five Talents' partner organization in Yangon, Mothers' Union.

Guests will also enjoy a delicious meal and a silent auction featuring beautiful hand-crafted products from Myanmar, Indonesia, Kenya, Bolivia and other countries where Five Talents works.

Attendees will also get an inside look at how their participation in the event and support of Five Talents directly benefits the lives of women and men struggling along the road out of poverty, through access to micro-business loans, savings group formation, business skills training, and mentoring.

Click here to find out more about the special event and purchase tickets.

Our annual Fall Gala provides a great opportunity to introduce friends and family to the work of Five Talents. Click here to invite people in your network via the Fall Gala Facebook Event page.

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'Your Donations and Prayers Are the Bricks That Build the House of Transformation'

Celestina blog
If you were to ask 56-year-old Celestina about her life during a visit to the marketplace in Tarija, Bolivia, you would not have to wait long to hear about her children.

She'd probably tell you about her daughter Romina's continuing education.

With a twinkle in her eye, she'd no doubt brag about her grandchildren.

Celestina would also be sure to mention the house she has been building, brick by brick, with the profit from her micro-business. "One day," she says, "I will finish building my house."

Celestina's house is a great picture of what happens when a woman or man joins one of Five Talents' programs. When they learn to save money, invest loan capital in a micro-business, and participate in training workshops, their whole household is transformed.

Children are able to attend school. Extended family and friends benefit, as the group member's new knowledge trickles down into the community. Often, the household's living conditions improve as well – there's more food and better shelter.

Over time, an entire family's life begins to change – little by little, brick by brick.

Your donations, prayers and advocacy are the bricks that build the house of transformation.

When Celestina found Five Talents and our partner organization in Bolivia, Seeds of Blessing, she had already launched several micro-enterprises.

Celestina had first sold bread before moving on to corn. For a while, she was earning a decent profit from the micro-enterprise and began using some of that profit to build a house. But then unexpected costs began stealing from her profits. She'd not yet learned to save, and so her work on the house stalled. Worse yet, she no longer had money to invest in her business.

"I was worried because I needed to increase my capital in order to have more profit," Celestina said.

In desperate need of a loan, she turned to Five Talents and Seeds of Blessing.

When someone like Celestina joins a savings group, your donations help to provide loan capital, a safe place to save, and training in core business skills. In Celestina's case, an initial loan of $40 helped her to get the business back on track.

"The group gave me a loan, and with it I bought things that I needed," she said. "Now, I am selling more items, including corn, chilies and peanuts, and with what I earn I can finish building my house."

The impact of your support, however, extends far beyond the direct beneficiary, and this is part of what makes Five Talents unique.

Women like Celestina are not just getting a one-time loan, paying it back and going on with life. They are joining a community whose support and training inevitably trickles down into the lives of family and friends.
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Book Review: ‘There Is a Country: New Fiction from the New Nation of South Sudan’

There Is a Country2Last year, McSweeney's gave us our first taste of South Sudanese literature — a collection of eight pieces by South Sudanese writers titled There Is a Country: New Fiction from the New Nation of South Sudan.

The publisher notes that the volume, edited by Nyuol Lueth Tong, is "the first of its kind, from the youngest country in the world."

Just over three years ago, the people of South Sudan gained recognition as a sovereign nation. Young and old took to the streets, crying, laughing and waving flags.

The New York Times, in reporting on the historic occasion, noted, "A new nation [is] being born in what used to be a forlorn, war-racked patch of Africa, and to many it [seems] nothing short of miraculous."

Over the last two years, however, the celebrations have given way to far more ominous circumstances: continuing tensions with the North, violence between political factions in the country, displacement of entire communities and the threat of famine.

It's perhaps fitting, then, that the stories in 'There Is a Country' fall somewhere in-between the celebrations and the sporadic violence. There is romance, mischief, family conflict and dreaming — the stuff of community life everywhere, whether in the American suburbs, or in one of South Sudan's refugee camps.

In "Port Sudan Journal," Victor Lugala tells the story of a 25-year-old who has slipped across the northern border into Sudan carrying a black rucksack with a pair of blue jeans, some boxer shorts, a toothbrush and a diary, ostensibly seeking out a long-lost uncle.

"The diary had been a birthday present from my Ugandan friend, given to me before I'd left home," the young man says. "It was as if he knew that one day I would be far away, wandering without a destination in mind."

In "Escape," by Edward Eremugo Luka, the narrator describes his late-night run from a group of men friendly with the North. The action appears to take place before South Sudan's independence, after the main character's family has safely fled their hut outside of Juba. As he turns his back on his now abandoned home, he vows to return one day in the future.

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Inside the Life of a Micro-Entrepreneur in Indonesia

Supiati discusses the impact her husband's medical condition has had on her income-generating activities.

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Job Opening: Donor Relations Officer with Raiser's Edge Experience

hiring smlrFive Talents is hiring! Do you know someone with database management experience who is looking to pick up some part-time hours?

The Donor Relations Officer is primarily responsible for ensuring quality and timely processing of gifts and managing the Raiser's Edge database. This opportunity is a part-time role working out of our office in Fairfax, Virginia.

Click here to view the full job description and requirements. We'd love it if you shared this link with your church network. You may also visit our Facebook Page to share our post about the job opening with your friends.

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Five Talents' Sonia Patterson Accepts 2014 Brava! Award

SmartCEO magazine recently honored Five Talents President and CEO Sonia Patterson with a Brava! award, highlighting Sonia's leadership & passion.

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A Video Invitation For You and Your Friends to 'Walk With Us'

Walk With Us: Provide a Helping Hand Along the Road Out of Poverty from Five Talents on Vimeo.

We're excited to share with you this short video slideshow featuring photography from Adam Dickens, a longtime Five Talents supporter, along with an invitation to "walk with us" as a monthly donor.

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Come Along On a Journey That Will Transform the Way You See the World

Walk With Us

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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Faith, Action, Coffee and a ‘Quiet Rebellion Against the Powers That Be’

Editor's note: Jeffrey Myers, founder of Abednego Coffee Roasters, is donating 25 percent of his company's July sales to Five Talents. Here, the small business owner shares about his passion for coffee and the global community.

Jeffrey Myers2bOne of the things I love so much about coffee is that it connects people. It is about community. When you share a cup of coffee you are not only connecting with your friends and family you are connecting with coffee growers all over the world. The only product I can think of that comes directly from Mbale, Uganda, or Aceh, Sumatra, or Huehuetenango, Guatemala is coffee. It connects us.

Coffee = Passion
I developed a passion for coffee on Mt. Elgon in Uganda. I was part of a small team from Iowa State that traveled to Uganda to talk with business owners.

One of my discussions was with the manager of the Bugisu Coffee Cooperative in Mbale, Uganda. While sipping some of the world's finest coffee I thought, "I love this – the industry – the people – the coffee."

Faith = Action
But to really know something is to experience it. Put a different way, I can read about the physics of roller-coasters but until I experience one I really have no idea what they are like.

I think faith is similar. I always felt guilty when I read in James that "Faith without works is dead." I think faith is supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be experienced. Faith with action is alive. The greatest experiences of my life have been when I think I hear God's voice call me to action and I respond in faith. James isn't trying to make you feel guilty, he is trying to make you come alive.

Abednego Coffee Roasters
We started roasting coffee in March 2008. I had this idea that I wanted to roast the best coffee I could find and give all our profits away. A bit idealistic...but I left a job in the corporate world and was tired of the status quo. We even called ourselves Abednego Coffee from the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as kind of a quiet rebellion against the powers that be – saying we don't care if we survive but I guarantee we are not going to play by your rules. We have survived.

And this brings me to Five Talents. I love business. When I see businesses that are thriving I get excited. Business is one of the most beautiful ways to express our freedom – our freedom to create, innovate, design, and implement.

The wonderful thing about Five Talents is that it works to create an environment of freedom in the realm of business. People with great ideas, great passions, and great desires are now free to express and develop what God has placed on their hearts.
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