Community Empowerment Network's Blog
Poverty is a worldwide problem on an epic scale. Large numbers of people do not live in a safe environment with access to clean water and sanitation, education and the ability to create a better future for both themselves and future ) generations.
In the developed world we struggle to comprehend the impact this would have on the day to day life of people living in isolated and developing communities. Our assumptions on happiness and drive have been formed in a world of privilege where want exists, but is not the norm.
When I moved to Africa in the early 1990's I could not have imagined how inspired I would be, by the happiness and drive of people who did not have access to most of the things I took for granted. Women in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa were the nucleus of the society. They were not naturally empowered economically in their communities and yet they were frequently the most innovative, hard working entrepreneurs. They banded together and were stronger for their bonds with each other and their community.
Roadside markets selling local vegetables and craft provided additional income for many families to enable their children to gain a better education. Every additional year of schooling enabled the next generation to move one step further towards a better future. I always marveled at the entrepreneurship these women displayed and how happy they were to dream of a better future for their children.
CEN's work in the Amazon, has resulted in a number of similar success stories - women who are not naturally empowered in their communities and yet embody the entrepreneurial spirit. Work is incorporated into community life and happiness is part of the way of life. Being entrepreneurial does not come at the expense of having a life. Hard work is admired, if it enables a better future, without losing the structure and strength of the family and community unit.
To me this is cornerstone of CEN's ability to make a difference in the region. The local people of the Amazon region already have a strong community and happy life. They want access to knowledge and tools to enable them to expand their horizons while maintaining their way of life. The cClear program encourages this balance in the development of entrepreneurial skills and businesses. Sustainable development is underway in the region and it is not coming at too high a price for the local community-ultimately ensuring one of the best ways to access success in the longer term.