Fall 2019 Event: International Day of the Girl Child
The October 11 iZōsh Event was a special one, as the Ann Arbor chapter met on International Day of the Girl Child, and iZōsh members were invited to bring their daughters to join them. I was thrilled to be able to share the experience of one of our Events with my own daughters, for them to see firsthand what it looks like when women invest in women. We began as usual with the stone voting, so my girls and I read about each woman’s loan needs and cast our votes. After grabbing some delicious snacks, we settled in to our seats and had the opportunity to do some voting for loan recipients at our tables. It’s always hard to choose when you want everyone to receive funding!
“I wish we could help all of the people start a business!” (10 year-old daughter)
After some distress that not all the women seeking loans would receive funding that night, it was reassuring for my girls to learn how the micro-loans work and that once the loans are paid back, the money goes to fund more women desiring micro-loans. iZōsh Ann Arbor Chair Katie Glupker’s explanation and the statistics on the improvements being made in the declining poverty rate resonated with our hearts’ desire. She explained that the discontent we feel is actually “a good kind of discontent,” because while we can see that there is still a lot of work to do, the iZōsh ministry allows us to DO something right then to improve the situation.
When keynote speaker Lillian Covington from Opportunity International stepped up to speak, she first asked each table of eight do an exercise. Each attendee read a real-life description of a woman in extreme poverty and a situation she faced. We imagined what it was like to be her and tried to imagine what decision we might make in the same situation.
“I can’t believe that women have to make decisions like this! How is that even a thing?” (16 year-old daughter)
We shared our situations and thoughts among our group. Our table quickly saw how powerful it was for women to be part of a Savings Group and obtain micro-loans in order to not just be able to grow a business that would provide for the immediate needs of their families, but also to allow them to invest in schooling for their children in hopes of a better future for them. Ms. Covington then spoke about how micro-loans have helped these women and many more, and she shared about the important work that Opportunity International continues to do on this front every day.
Catching hold of the excitement from the impact micro-loans make, particularly in educating girls for the hope of brighter futures, my 10 year-old did not hold back her questions during the open Q&A time. After we got home, she provided her reflection on the night:
“At iZōsh, I learned how other people lived. I wish we could help all of these people start a business. While I was there, I imagined what it would be like to live like them, and I immediately felt extremely bad for them. I learned so much while also having a great time at iZōsh. I wish I could be a member and go to all of the meetings.”
As I was tucking her in a little later that night, her sleepy voice offered one last thought: “Mom, you are making a difference not just in my own life, but in other people’s lives. You matter, mom, and the women you are helping matter.”
That is the beauty of iZōsh: we learn together, give together, and celebrate joyfully that women and their families are one step closer to brighter futures.
–Karen Peach, iZōsh Member