Contact: Kelli Ross, Director of Communications, Five Talents International, 703-242-6016, email@example.com
VIENNA, Va., Dec. 8 /Christian Newswire/ -- Thanks to the income from her small food business, Ahok, who is a single mother living in Lietnhom, Sudan, is now able to send all five of her children to school. Akot, her 10-year-old son, has begun first grade – one step toward his dream of becoming a doctor.
"I love my mother," Akot said. "She gives me milk and biscuits every day. I also love my school uniform; I look smart in school.
Ahok started her business with a $75 loan. She has now received a second loan of $150 from the village bank in Lietnhom, which was established by a consortium of organizations, including Five Talents, World Concern and the Episcopal Church of Sudan.
December marks Five Talents' one-year anniversary of supporting this innovative microcredit program, but it hasn't been without tragedy.
In May, Lietnhom was raided and burned to the ground by a rival ethnic clan. One of the few buildings remaining was the village bank and, remarkably, the $10,000 in members' savings was still secure.
"Even though the conflict affected most of the people in the community, there is still hope," said Harun Mutuma, World Concern program manager. "Many people are struggling to start life all over again. Let's all pray for Christ's witness in Sudan because this is the only way to ensure that lasting peace prevails."
The nearly 400 members of the village bank have started rebuilding their shops and are repaying the loans they received in March. At the moment, they don't have many wares to sell, but they are slowly restocking their shops by traveling the difficult and dangerous 112 miles by bicycle to the major town of Wau.
Despite the hardships of the past few months, the program has already replicated itself with the start of two new village and savings loan associations in the nearby town of Luanyeker. Each has 20 women.
Ahok challenges other women to start businesses so they too can provide for their families. And, she has set an example worth following – single-handedly, she has sent her oldest son to secondary school in Kampala, Uganda, since there are no high schools in Lietnhom.
"I do not know what would have happened to my family and children if Five Talents had not come to our town," Ahok said. "Before they came, I was not able to buy enough food, school books or uniforms for my children. Now, I am able to support my children with all they need."
Established in 1999, Five Talents provides funding for business training and thousands of loans, ranging from $50 to $300, across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Each loan finances a microbusiness that, in turn, supports up to six other people. A majority of the loan recipients are women.
Five Talents is based in Vienna, Va., with an office in London, England. For more information, visit www.FiveTalents.org.