"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Africa is as unpredictable as ever. It's my 5th time to the continent (4th to DRC) and being surrounded by such extreme poverty, I feel defeated. Our cooperative is wonderful in many ways though still there is room to grow as far as bookkeeping and inventory tracking are concerned, but when I look around it's all so gloom...malaria, illness, death, starvation, roadside killings, and hardly any employment opportunities. Several times a day, individuals, who know about our cooperative, and want me to help them find a good job or tell them how to create a social enterprise, approach me. It's inspiring but at the same time I feel so overwhelmed.

My trip this summer challenged me greatly. Everyday in Congo I encountered young men and women from our village asking for assistance. They want to start a business or improve their current trade by taking our business training. Yet they also need computers to open Internet cafes, generators to increase production at the local bakery, and science books for medical students. The list is endless, and I've often found myself in the position of being the only one they can ask.  

Among many questions, I continue to ask myself how do we fit into all this? Where do we begin? And, will it ever be enough? When we start to see ourselves as the answer to the sufferings of others, we lose sight of authentic, human development. Development is not exclusive to improving the economic plight of the poor, though it is certainly one aspect, but rather we are called to something greater.

We are called to purposeful and fruitful relationships. I have learned one of the best ways we can do this is to simply begin with what we know - our talents. We acknowledge and embrace them not for our own benefit but for the good of others. When we do this, our capacity to impact those we love grows and we are inspired to give with joy. Our gifts will be constantly manifested and emboldened through our relationships, and so long as we have one another, there will always be hope.