I just got back from 4 days in El Salvador where I was genuinely privileged to be able to present the Fuentes family with a grant and a micro-loan that is literally going to change their lives forever. We were able to provide finance to the Fuentes family to open their very own store selling sweets and school supplies. This was the first project that we have been able to finance through Filanthropic and is was a real privilege to meet and talk with the people who are going to benefit from the money that we have been able to provide. We partnered with a great charity called Project Red El Salvador who will provide support and education to the family long after we have left which is really important to us.
I was struck by the extremes in El Salvador. The poverty is the most obvious extreme, it is almost oppressive in places and it's a sobering thought to think that these circumstances are not the exception in the world, but the norm. I heard quite a startling fact last week... We have heard a lot recently about how the 99% want to have a greater voice in the way the world is run and that the 1% are keeping everything for themselves and not sharing equitably the profits they are making. This is very true but I found out last week that if you earn more than $26,000 a year then you are part of the 1%! I think for a lot of us that puts us across the line between who should be sharing an who should be receiving. When that designation is a little closer to home what impact does it have on the way I live? What am I prepared to share? Do I still feel as vocal about the need for a more equitable share when there is a good chance that I would be doing the sharing not the receiving? Tough questions Im sure you will agree.
The other extreme I couldn't help but notice in El Salvador is the abundant happiness I saw almost everywhere, I would go as far to call it joy! Here we have a people who by and large have nothing at all and yet are still filled with a happiness that, I have to say, I don't witness too often in the West. Certainly in Europe we have considerable wealth but not so much joy. It is another interesting thought for me... How much do we associate our material wealth with ultimate happiness? I expect that most of us would agree that they aren't linked, but the reality is that we spend our lives chasing after all these things. We move city or country for more money. We cant imagine 10 minutes without our smartphone even though it means we reduce how much we interact with real people. We collect trinkets and clothing as it they were going to turn to dust within a few short weeks.
Life it seems is full of contradictions.