It is common in our culture to assume that living in extreme poverty must inevitably be a depressing, hopeless experience. People are suffering. Conditions are challenging. Systems are broken. The scale of the problems is huge. Reasons for optimism are fleeting.
Let’s make this a little more personal. When you step back and consider your subconscious thoughts, is this what you expect from those who live in economic poverty? Do you subtly assume that the lack of certain resources and comforts must naturally produce lives full of discouragement—if not outright desperation?
Well, I want you to join me on a morning of visiting clients at their businesses in the Marché Total market in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The pictures you see below show each client we met that day. I recognize that one picture does not accurately encapsulate a person’s entire perspective on life, but if you had to assign one word or phrase to each picture, what would it be?
Gauthier Ntibila started attending church as a result of his relationship with HOPE.
Roh Boumba opened a small outdoor restaurant after his third loan cycle.
Claude Balossa used his loans to hire two employees, enabling him to sell bread in three locations.
Marcel Balengana has nine children, including two sets of twins.
Sylvie Malonga dreams of building a home on her own land.
Juldas Kimpa turned his business around using the principles learned from his group’s business training.
Arnaudhi Arnaudh appreciates sharing with others in his community bank.
When asked about his dreams for the future, Euloge Nsiete responds that he has too many to list.