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In this Sunday’s Gospel, we find Jesus just prior to the events that would lead to his crucifixion, making ominous warnings and predictions of the hard times that would come. Upon hearing this, his followers became anxious, asking when this would happen and if they would be given a sign. But Jesus told them not to fear. If they persevered through these hardships, they would be saved.

God is present to all believers, even in times of trouble. But when we’re in the midst of difficulties, overcome by sadness or fear, and it can be hard to trust that God is with us. Jesus reminds us of the bigger picture—the challenges we face are an opportunities to rely more heavily on God’s wisdom and power. By persevering in our faith, we will find our way.

In remote areas of the developing world, women living in poverty wake up to a harsh reality every day. Opportunities are few and far between. And even when they do exist, it’s difficult to take advantage of them if you or your child are sick, or if you have to spend hours every day collecting water. Poverty disproportionately affects women. Their access to income-producing vehicles such as land or loans is limited. To pay for food or home essentials, they must rely on husbands, or a male family member if they have no husband. Women are not encouraged to earn money.

Pamela stands with her husband and baby - she is part of the village saving loans program at CMMB

Pamela and her husband Crispin with one of their four children in Mwandi, Zambia.

Pamela lives with her husband and four children in Mwandi, a rural village in the southwestern tip of Zambia. Like most people in the community, their home is a hut made of mud. Lack of rain has affected her family’s ability to grow their own food and sell their crops to generate additional income—critical in a locality with very little formal-sector employment.

Five years ago, Pamela saw beyond all the limitations she faced and joined the local Village Savings and Loan Association. That decision transformed her.

Our CHAMPS programs work to make communities healthy by offering opportunities for a better, healthier life. Through Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLAs), we are helping to lift women and their families out of poverty. These economic empowerment programs, which we have run in Peru, Haiti, Kenya, and Zambia, support women with training and loans to start gardens, raise livestock, and other enterprises. In addition to promoting income generation which allows them to support their families, women achieve greater autonomy and improved self-esteem.

Cmmb's savings and loans group in Zambia. On International Day of rural women we celebrate them

Pamela with members of her Village Savings and Loan group.

Savings groups are changing the face of microfinance, bringing sustainable financial services to the rural poor for the first time. The groups focus on teaching participants to save by using their own resources. Money is loaned to group members based on their collective savings. Through the VSLAs, women working together can lift a whole community out of poverty.

This past year, Pamela received a microloan which she used to set up a small shop a short walk from home, a place everyone in her community can come to for basic supplies. Everything she earns, she invests back into the health and education of her children.

Pamela stands in front of her storefront. On international day of the rural woman, we celebrate Pamela

Pamela was able to open her shop in Mwandi with the help of a womens’ savings group.

“Look what I can do now! With a loan from my savings group, I have a shop that brings money directly to me. I can feed my children and pay their school fees.”

Today, in an environment where so many women are dispirited and without hope, Pamela and the women of her savings group are filled with optimism for the future. Through their perseverance, many people win. Let us pray for those who are struggling, that may they find the strength to persevere through their difficulties. Let us place them lovingly in God’s hands.

In grace and peace,

CMMB/Healthier Lives Worldwide


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