I confess that sometimes I get cynical about hope even though I know we all feast on hope to varying degrees.

As a marketing copywriter, I’m all too aware of how the purchase of most products isn’t so much about the product but an investment in hope.

Hope that the food will improve your health… hope that the dress will flatter you… hope that the gym membership will take away a few inches from your waistline… hope that the new house/car/garden/whatever will make you feel better about yourself.

It’s all about hope. So I feel like a hope dealer sometimes and wonder if it would be better if we all lived on a low-hope diet.

Fortunately videos like the one below help refresh my perspective on hope.

Jacqueline Novogratz is the CEO of the Acumen Fund, which provides micro loans to entrepreneurs in third world countries.

In this video she talks about Jane, who lived in a slum in Kenya. This slum is a mile long and 2/10 of a mile wide and has a population of a half million people crammed into shacks.

Even though she grew up in this slum Jane had two dreams: to become a doctor and have a family.

But then her mom died and her husband left her, so she turned to prostitution to support her children.

The humiliation and shame were worse than the poverty.

She got a micro loan to buy a sewing machine. She re-purposes old ball gowns by adding frills and ribbons to them and sells them as dresses

If you hit the pause button at the 4:10 mark in the video you can see her showing some of her dresses and jewelry to potential customers.

Look how nicely dressed these women are. Then look at the poverty in the background. These women have dignity even in these dire surroundings and it’s inspiring.

At the 5:23 mark hit the pause button again and see the new “development” she’ll be able to move into, so she can live and work in her business in conditions that would seem paltry by our standards but are sheer luxury for her.

At 6:12 you hear how her dream to be a doctor wasn’t totally dashed after all.

She realized that what she really wanted to be was someone who served, healed and cured.

Jane is HIV positive and two days a week she counsels other HIV patients: “I’m not a doctor who gives out pills but maybe I give out something better; I give out hope.”

Watch the whole thing:


Filed under: InspirationStories/Storytelling


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