As our final working day comes to a close on this trip, I’ll share what I see as the objectives of an Insight Trip:
- To learn about the economic, social and spiritual climate in developing countries
- To witness the hope that has been restored in the lives of the world’s impoverished people, who can now provide for their families through Opportunity International's financial services and training
- To reflect on ways, as Americans living far away, that we can impact the lives of those living in impoverished communities
- To assimilate all this newly acquired information into our everyday lives
EVERYONE INTERESTED IN THE WORK OF OPPORTUNITY INTERNATIONAL should travel on at least one Insight Trip to truly understand the work of the organization. Meeting the clients and staff, while experiencing the progress of our clients, is invaluable. History has shown the world that “aid” alone does NOT work. Forty years of Opportunity International has shown that microloans and training does lift people out of poverty. Microfinance is a model that works.
(Pictured: Client and Ojalá artisan Gloria Medrana with her daughter Diana)
Visiting clients is always a highlight of an Insight Trip! The clients that we met today do custom sewing and crocheting in a cooperative AND teach young women and girls to sew. Gloria Medrana was introduced to Opportunity at a trade show. She participates in Opportunity training and workshops, learning how to run a business more profitably. Gloria’s story is not unusual in the Ojalá co-op—we heard it several times, learning that it’s Mildred Corrales, Artisan Support for Ojalá, who has helped these women show and promote their businesses. Now they sell the products and continue to teach other women these skills. Of the products, only the recycled bags are made outside of Ojalá. The other products are 100% Nicaraguan-made.
(Mildred Corrales, Artisan Support, Ojalá)
This group is about a year old and already treasures one another’s friendships and support. Most are still in the first loan cycle. “For me, it’s been a phenomenon; because we work together and study the markets, I now sell 100% of what I make. I no longer work alone in my house,” one client commented about the difference Opportunity has made in her life. All of the clients praised Mildred for her commitment to helping them become more successful.
(Master potter and client Pedro Guerrero at work in Masaya, Nicaragua)
As one of only four master potters in Nicaragua, Pedro Guerrero exemplifies all the people who work with Opportunity International in Nicaragua. Pedro represents the ceramic guild of San Juan de Oriente, Masaya, Nicaragua at international events. In Nicaragua, Pedro has gained prestige for his dedication to the art and the uniqueness of his own style. Just as important, Pedro Guerrero is a fourth-generation potter who mentors and teaches the coming generations in this art. Taller Guerrero currently has 12 apprentices in the business. Opportunity is working with Pedro on increasing his prices, as Pedro just returned from Milan where his pieces are sold in art galleries.
Now, we have all returned to our busy lives in the States. As you finish reading the blog from this Insight trip, I’d ask you to pray:
- For the Opportunity staff in Colombia and Nicaragua and the work they do
- For the clients of Opportunity as they strive to lift their families out of poverty
- For those of us who visited the Opportunity work in Latin America, that we may understand the roles God wishes us to play
- For yourself, that you may open yourselves to the role our Father wishes you to play
Thank you and God bless you.
By Barbara from Minneapolis, Minnesota