“Work (must) give similar rights to all those who work, in such a way that the living standard of the workers in the different societies will less and less show those disturbing differences which are unjust.”
-Laborem Exercens, Pope John Paul II (1981)
Many people feel the global economic downturn, but perhaps the Global South feels the impact most strongly. Pope John Paul II recognized the great gap between workers in the Global South and in the Global North. He recognized the role that richer countries must play in solidarity with nations whose people live on less than $5 a day. He calls for partnerships that lessen the wage gap between the world’s rich and poor.
Just one percent of the U.S. budget goes to international
development. Catholic Social Teaching gives a preferential option to the poor and invites us to prophetic action to bridge the gap between the world’s rich and poor.
In the story of Jesus teaching Peter and the other disciples to fish (Luke 5:1-11) Jesus models for us the kind of relationships we are called to build which are based on partnership and solidarity. Globally, Columbans work with local communities to create sustainable incomes where government assistance falls short. You can be part of this effort by supporting women’s development projects.
The Grameen Bank in the Philippines is just one of these projects. Columban Fathers Sean Connaughton and Dan O’Malley in Kazama and in Pagadian City see the fruits of these efforts. Lourdesita, a 31-year old mother of three in Pagadian City joined the bank to help her family. Her husband makes $5 a day as a tricycle ferry driver. They often
have to borrow money at interest to feed their children. Lourdesita remarked:
“When the opportunity to join the Grameen Bank became available, I jumped at it. No other group has tried to help us fair and honestly. I went through the bank training and received my first loan of $60.00. I bought a piglet for $20.00. After five months, I sold the piglet for $110.00, repaid my loan, and reinvested in two more piglets, which I will sell in a couple of months. The money from the piglets has made our lives easier, and I am able to meet the school expenses of my children.”
You can bring hope to the lives of wo men like Lourdesita by purchasing a piglet for a $10 donation this election season to the Columban Grameen Bank project.
Lifting people out of poverty involves both a commitment to structural change and commitment to ensure that people can eat each day. When we elect leaders who are committed to policy priorities that bring people out of poverty, such as development aid,
we are working towards structural change. It also involves sharing our wealth, however modest, to lessen the gap between the communities where Columbans serve each day and us. Please share your witness by donating to the Columban Grameen Bank project.