Several months ago I finished reading one of the most eye-opening books with which I’ve ever come into contact. The Hole in our Gospel, written by Richard Stearns, the CEO of World Vision reveals statistics of poverty and struggle and displays them in a new light. He shares research, but also personal encounters he has had in his position and through his world travels. Much of the book is heart-breaking, not because these problems are so big that they cannot be fixed, but because they actually could be fixed…if everyone was willing to help even just a little. This is the overall premise of the book: the Bible teaches that we should love and help others in need, but we often just don’t, usually because we feel our little contribution is too small to make any difference (more on that in a future post). It is in the gospel, but as a whole, we don’t follow it. If we did as God has instructed, the world would be a changed place.
Going right along with my passion of protecting and restoring the lives of those held captive in various aspects from human trafficking, is that the major reasons women get trapped into this world are because of poverty and the greed of others. One side of this is that the pimps and “johns” need to be more severely punished, but women also need to have a way to care for themselves and their families. Stearns addresses this in his book. “..women own less that 1 percent of the world’s property. They also work two-thirds of all the world’s labor hours, but earn just 10 percent of the world’s wages.” This is because in many countries, especially the developing countries, women are denied an education (I wish girls here in the US really knew how fortunate they are for having free education), and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women. Education truly is power.
Stearns also says that in his opinion, “the single most significant thing that can be done to cure extreme poverty is this: protect, educate, and nurture girls and women and provide them with equal rights and opportunities- educationally, economically, and socially.” I can agree with that. He also adds a popular saying from many parts of Africa: “‘If you educate a man, you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.'” The idea is that a woman will use what she learns to provide for her family and to ensure an education for her daughters. If this begins to take place more and more, eventually many of the horrors associated with poverty would begin to dissipate.
This is a beautiful yet simple idea.
I recently heard of a small business dedicated to doing something along these lines. A company called Trades of Hope sells the goods women are creating in countries around the world, using what is available to them, and sells them here in the U.S. through the model of the “home party,” which is so common with make-up, candles and the like. These women are earning an income for their families by handcrafting amazing products to sell. They are empowered and have a skill to offer. I’m so intrigued by this company that I am even considering joining their team and selling these goods, even though my Mary Kay sales days were not so lucrative, and appropriately short-lived. I could get behind this because the products are unique and the cause is amazing, giving these women true hope.
If we could all commit to taking small steps, we could begin to change the world.
“I alone cannot change the world. But I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa