Head of the HQS Consulting Services Inc., Winnipeg, Canada

Speech during Seminar-exchange "International and national experiences of cross-sectoral partneship", September 26, 2012, UCU

Reflections on micro-credit

Thank you for your kind words of introduction! Glory to Jesus Christ! Good Morning Ladies and gentlemen,

I believe this conference does good and great work and I am again honoured to be among you for this the Fifth Ecumenical Social Week. When I was here last year I had the great pleasure of meeting Ms Maria Nowak and learning about micro-credit and her wonderful work around the world. I also had the great honour of being invited by Ms Maryanna Sokha to visit Oselia, an organization that cares for homeless people here in Lviv. There I met a number of very committed people including the director of Oselia, Ms Olesia Sanotska. Their work in helping the people of this great city is admirable and clearly the work of God. It is said that we earn a living by the money we make. It is however, also said that we make a life for ourselves by what we give. Unfortunately, we are sometimes so busy working and earning a living for ourselves that we forget to make a life for ourselves. We forget the work of God. We forget to care for the others in our world. Maria Nowak and the people of Oselia have not forgotten the needs of others and they quietly remind us that we should not forget the needs of others. They do not point fingers, they do not shame us or embarrass us, they simply, by their good works, remind us of the others. In spending time with each of them it occurred to me that these good people could come together and in a joint effort do really great things. It occurred to me that these good people could come together to make a really substantial difference. That they could do far more than engage in the simple process of giving, far more!

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Let me try and explain myself. Anne Isabella Ritchie, wrote a novel in the 1880’s entitled “Mrs. Dymond” it included these lines: “If you give a man a fish, he is hungry again in an hour; if you teach him to catch fish you do him a good turn.” We often hear this paraphrased as follows… “If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a life time.” It is without doubt important to give a man a fish, to feed him or her for a day. To feed people and to shelter them, to reach out and give them strength, these are good things to do! But strength for what? Strength to simply go on as they are? Or strength to move on to greater things? Strength to find a place in our society, beside us and not beneath us? Not forever requiring our charity however, freely given and kind as it may be given. No…..charity must entail far more than simply giving a fish, as admirable as that giving is. In the process of micro-credit we find a means of teaching people to fish. Helping people re-establish themselves, find a fully enfranchised place among us, Helping people…be proud and able, competent and engaged,Helping people…..be part of a community that values them, that recognises them as significant contributors and important element of our society. It might be said in teaching people to fish, we find a way to feed their soul, their spirit and most critically to enable them to be fully engaged members of our society. Sigmund Freud once said there are two things we need to live well, to live fully, to step into the day and breathe in the fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun on our face, and to meet that day with confidence and excitement. There are two things we need to know that we make a significant contribution and are valued participants in the social process, sure in our own value as a human being and sure of our place in our society.Freud said this, there are two thing we need to know how do, the first was to love and be loved and the second was to work. I understood clearly the need to know how to love and be loved? But to work? This confused me until I read more. Freud went on to say…. because through our work we become valued by our community.To be valued by our community means to be cared for,appreciated,needed and therefore protected and supported. A basic understanding of prey and predator made clear to me the importance of “work and contribution”. As the wolf attacks a herd of sheep it does not at first single one of the sheep out from the heard. No the wolf runs into the herd and causes the sheep to scatter. As is inevitable, one of those sheep will become separated from the herd, and when it does we all know that this sheep will be targeted and at much higher risk of becoming lunch. Those that stay together have a lower risk of becoming lunch. It is together that they are safe it is together that they have a better chance to survive and thrive. So it might be argued that we as human being have a primordial need to be a part of the group, a part of society. In as much as we are separated from full involvement in social process so it can be argued that we are at risk, that our survival is at risk. It is interesting to note also however, that as the herd is diminished, as the herd becomes smaller so each member becomes progressively more vulnerable. To protect each member of the herd is to protect the herd. So it is people need to feel part of the group, respected and valued, safe and secure. We are secure in our value to our society and our place in it…. to the extent that we contribute to that society. In teaching others to fish, to work, we give them an opportunity to contribute and to find a place among us. They become our neighbor, our friends. This giving is so much more significant than simply giving a fish. Caritas or charity is sometimes seen as an option, a matter of choice. A nice thing we do for “the other”, for the persons in need. In many traditions however, caritas or charity is seen a little differently. For example, in the Jewish tradition tzedeke or sharing is a mitzvah, a commandment, a requirement that must be followed. The word tzedekeinterestingly has its root in the word justice or fairness. Not only is the act of sharing a commandment but ….to be considered a good, just or fair person one must share. And so to be a just and fair person, to be fully human we must have or find the opportunity to make the world a little more just, a little more fair, a little more caring. In the process therefor of giving we, the givers, receive a gift. We are made fuller in our humanity, more complete in our humanity. Micro-credit provides us with opportunity to become fuller more complete in our humanity by becoming just and fair in our lives. In giving, in our act of charity, there is another gift, a second gift. That gift is a stronger society, one that can weather all storms,manage all challenges because it has the commitment and support of all the individuals in it. A stronger society, one where all are fully engaged and contributing. And by that strength a safer more productive society! Micro-credit provides all of us with the opportunity to come together and make a significant difference. To teach people to fish, to become functioning and effective parts of our society.In so doing….we become fuller in our humanity and safer, stronger and more effective as a society. Let me thank Ms Novak for her willingness to bring her expertise to our efforts here in Ukraine at developing micro-credit and let me thank the people from Oselia particularly Ms Olesia Sanotska and Ms Marianna Sokhal for their willingness to work with this project, and finally, let me thank Dr. Nina Hayduk, for taking up the challenge of working with this project here in Ukraine. We will have the opportunity to hear from all of these individuals to day.I would now like to invite Maria Novak, to share her experiences with micro-credit in other countries, as well as her thoughts on how to best proceed in our joint venture here in Ukraine and perhaps a little of where we are presently at.