One Great Hour of Sharing: A Visit to Local Sites
One Great Hour of Sharing
I participated on a Travel Study trip in 1977, with 20 other Presbyterians to visit Columbia and Bolivia to see first hand projects funded by One Great Hour of Sharing donations. I will share a few of my most vivid memories.
I still remember when the door was opened for us to peek in at the very green vegetable garden, the warm, moist air coming out of a solar greenhouse garden high in the very dry Bolivian Altiplano. 240 Aymara families gathered with us to celebrate the harvest from greenhouses made possible by the Pres. Hunger Program, One Great Hour of Sharing donations. The introduction of fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet has not only improved their health, but, in working as a community to achieve these abundant results, has brought hope and dignity to marginalized people who feel forgotten. Where malnutrition was previously common, now parents and teachers note improved attention and physical growth. Each family uses half of the produce for themselves and sells half, with part of the money, more greenhouses are built. Only potatoes grow naturally on the arid, barren plain. Today they proudly display colorful beets, radishes, onions, salad greens, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, watermelon and more. In large out door courtyard, families displayed their crops. One woman offered a drink from a Chivas Regal bottle with something purple inside, it was delicious… beet juice! All this was shared at a “thanksgiving” meal which followed colorful native Bolivian dancing, music and song and prayers featuring words of hope and thanks. We all were presented with gifts of llama wool hats and woven bags.
On a hot afternoon, 25 poor Colombian young women and their small children gather for a weekly meeting of the Hope Bank. This is not the kind of bank you are imagining. This group of women have formed and named their own bank, and each has borrowed $50.00 to start a micro-business. These women were not always so poor. Most are part of the 800,000 people who are the “Displaced People” in Colombia. Threats of and actual violence have forced them to flee their rural farms. Many women are suddenly heads of households as their husbands were killed in the violence. They come to the city seeking physical security, and find no housing or employment.
AGAPE, a non-profit microenterprise organization, has reached out to these women through the Trust Bank Program. Women form groups of 5 and receive training in money management. They must pay the $50.00 loan back with interest within 3 months and start a bank savings account. After all 5 women repay their loans, they can borrow larger amounts of money. Not only do they learn business skills, but they regain self- confidence and build trusting relationships with women in their neighborhoods. Their businesses include small stores, clothing, crafts and raising animals. My favorite story is a women who started a fishing business. She hired her husband to fish with the equipment she purchased with a loan, she paid here husband for the fish and put them into 2 styrofoam ice chests and took the bus into town to sell the fish at a profit.
For many women AGAPE has been their only hope. Banks were started with a Presbyterian Hunger Program grant of $15,000. This is one of the many uses of One Great Hour of Sharing funds. 3,000 women have borrowed start up money through these banks. Including children, this grant has helped 15,000 people.
I am so impressed by how the Presbyterian Church works with local organizations through a grant process to fund so many worthwhile projects for the Presbyterian Hunger Program, Self Development of People and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
The One Great Hour of Sharing offering will be taken next Sunday, Easter. Please prayerfully consider how your check can make a difference here in the US and around the world. If you think you might give $5, $10 or $20 dollars, its only taken one time a year so multiply that by 12 and make a difference!
An update from Patty:
Please note the work of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) in Oakland responding to the recent Oakland fires and housing issues. PDA is funded wholly by donations to One Great Hour of Sharing. Let’s give generously this Spring for the many resources and help provided by PDA, Presbyterian Hunger Program and Self-Development of People. Link is: Presbyterian Disaster Assistance responds to latest tragic apartment fire in Oakland
Second deadly fire in months brings renewed attention to housing issues
Patty Sanders Hunger Action Advocate Ride Director - Pedal for Protein Sept 17-23, 2017
And note from member Rosanne Gephart, who did her due diligence before donating (thanks Rosanne):
"[T]he OGHS program (at least from 2014) distributes all but about 13% to various programs. This makes it an excellent place for one to donate!"
2014 Financial Summary – Preliminary and Subject to Audit 2014 ONE GREAT HOUR OF SHARING
Offering Receipts $6,378,418
This includes 25 percent of gifts received through the Presbyterian Giving Catalog ($37,869).
Allocation (after expenditures) Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Presbyterian Hunger Program Self-Development of People Total One Great Hour of Sharing
Offering Allocation Expenditures
$5,551,120 total to programs