During my time on the Board I visited our program in Kenya, where women were using our small donations to start up self-sustaining businesses for themselves. I also, promoted Freedom From Hunger by speaking about the organization to various groups in Arizona, and presented a slide show about our work in the world. I solicited donations in Arizona from contributors who came to believe in our orgaization's motto, " Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime". Freedom From Hunger has the multiplier effect in that we supervise the new enterprises & make sure that they succeed the first year, and after that success follows success from one generation to another. Others who see good outcomes are encouraged to try new enterprises & it goes on and on in that community. It is very exciting to see this happen, and it is impossible to measure the extent of this self impowerment after it begins to take hold. Without question, the long range effect is in building confidence in the people that they will be able to sustain themselves.
Freedom from Hunger changed me, the day I first heard of their work in providing adult education along with microloans. This was not charity, but a chance for families to study and work their way out of systemic poverty; and it was not a top-down smug attempt at development, but a 64-year history of asking what is needed in specific global communities, listening, and adapting programs and services to fit real people's needs. I'd been working as a writer and just gave birth to my first baby, Benjamin. I wanted all moms and dads to be able to give their babies nourishing food, vaccinations, books and school, a safe warm home, and a shot at living their dreams. Now Ben just started at his first-choice college, and I work in development and write about innovative solutions to poverty. Freedom from Hunger started small too, with 100 women in 2 countries (Thailand and Mali); they now serve over 2 million clients in 16 countries. Somehow they manage to combine a legacy of care, deep research, and tested methodology, with cutting-edge innovations in how to deliver services to the poor. For example, FFH brings savings circles ("Saving for Change") and health education to geographically remote areas; and malaria, HIV, maternal and infant health training and services ("Microfinance and Health Protection") to areas hardest hit by disease. The first to link loans with education, FFH now provides training and curriculum materials to local partners all over the world, so that families can work smarter and advance faster out of poverty into opportunity.