If I didn't feel my work in Totonga Bomoi was important, I wouldn't be doing it. However, the work of Totonga Bomoi isn't meant to be important to me. It's important to the women and artisans whose drive and passion for their community and families make Totonga Bomoi and bring it to life.
On my last night in Congo, an artisan shared with me the story of how she lost the love of her life. He was killed at the hands of corrupt politicians who are willing to destroy men and women who dare to speak truth to power against local corruption. Hers is obviously not the only family left with a gaping hole as a result of this brutality. But she bravely chose to fight back to empower herself and other women through the education and opportunity provided by the work of Totonga Bomoi.
From this side of the work, I don't often see that it is more than business training. But to many in Congo, what we do is truly life-affirming and life-changing.
Esther has been with Totonga Bomoi from the beginning. She taught sewing classes and was soon recruited by Totonga Bomoi in Congo to train women in the village of Watsa. Traveling back and forth, Esther established herself in a new village, among a new community. Only during this recent trip did she share with me that, after the death of her husband, she had initially distracted herself with work to help the pain go away. But, the shared network of women within Totonga Bomoi moved past the confines of what Totonga Bomoi is on paper and came together, pooling their limited resources to collect $30 to assist Esther in her time of need.
More than a year has passed since Esther needed the help of the community, and now she is in a place to give back to the community. On graduation day last Wednesday morning, after reminding the graduates that God provides the talents that they are now to use, Esther proudly called the names of those women as we congratulated each of them on passing their sewing course with Totonga Bomoi.
In Matthew 26, Christ tells us that "the poor will be with you always". But the words of Christ also instruct us that poverty is not due to something that the poor lack, but that society itself has failed to provide for them. We are that society. We are all a global society, each acting in our individual manner for the common good. And what we do in part, together as a community, can and will end poverty.
Totonga Bomoi doesn't aim to move dollars from one hand to the next. We aim to teach those hands to earn and build and provide for themselves. In doing so, the artisans transcend their lessons and become a community. This community, and coming together as a society to improve life and reduce poverty in the Congo is what is important. To me. To the women who are a part of Totonga Bomoi. And to our global community.
To many, a dollar is just a drop in the bucket. But enough drops can become a tidal wave with the power to break down walls and barriers holding back progress. This is what we do. We provide the drops that help the women of Totonga Bomoi become a tidal wave.