A woman in Zambia waits at her makeshift stand at the edge of the road hoping someone will buy from her meager store of charcoal and sweet potatoes. Between the infrequent customers, she entertains simple dreams of owning a grocery store and using the earnings to feed her family and send her children to school.
She tries everything she knows to make her dream come true. But her efforts to get a loan from the bank for the capital to grow her business are repeatedly denied because she lacks collateral.
And it is in this time, when even simple dreams seem out of reach, that transformational love appears.
The woman, Maureen Chibuye, joined her friends in a Saving and Internal Lending Community (SILC) in Walera, in the Chipata district of Zambia. Her group, operated by The Salvation Army, is called Chikondi, which means “love”. SILCs like Chikondi were introduced in the Chipata district in 2011 as part of an economic empowerment strategy.
She said, “Before Chikondi, I couldn’t even manage to save, as everything I made went to meet the needs of my family – and it was indeed a nightmare.”
She gave part of her first loan of $97 to her husband to invest in seed for their garden to grow cabbage and other vegetables. She put the remaining amount toward her dream. After eight months of hard work and additional cycles of receiving and repaying loans from the group, her dream came true and her business blossomed.
She finally moved to a bigger, better shop where she is currently running her grocery store.
Maureen continues to increase her available stock, and enjoys excellent credit with her Chikondi group, her last loan being for $386. With the profits from her business, she is able to easily repay her loans, sponsor her children to go to school and provide her family three meals per day.
Now that her dream has at last been achieved, it is now time for transformation in others’ lives.
The woman in Zambia now waits in her successful groceries business and welcomes the frequent visitors who buy from her wide variety of goods, including charcoal and sweet potatoes for those who need them. She encourages them to join the SILC group to realize their own simple dreams, and to use the earning to feed their own families and send their own children to school.
That is the true power of transformational love – what was once the dream of one person is transfigured and passed on – and now ever afterward becomes realized dreams for the entire community.
Lieutenant Colonel Joan Canning is the Executive Director of The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO). SAWSO’s vision is to “create a world where people live in safe and sustainable communities in which differences are respected, basic needs are met, and all enjoy opportunities to learn, work, and worship in freedom.” Learn more at www.SAWSO.org.