The Empowered Program for Social Entrepreneurship, part of the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership, provides students with the necessary tools to become social entrepreneurs. Students accepted into the program become Empowered Fellows and embark on adventures around the world that we can exprience via their Fellow Blog.
One such story is that of Anne Wolfe, A13, who spent her summer interning for Fundacion Paraguaya in their micro-finance division:
At the gas station SeñoraVirginiapointed out where I should wait and told me which bus I needed to take to get back home. She then asked me when I was planning on coming back toParaguay, to which I gave my typical response: “I’d love to someday but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to.” She offered me her number and told me to call her when I came back, that I was welcome to stay with her whenever I wanted, and asked for my number in return. “Sé que soy pobre, pero tengo una corazón grande.” (I know that I am poor, but I have a big heart). This simple statement nearly brought me to tears. After less than fifteen minutes of talking with this woman she had offered to share everything she had with me, a stranger, an extranjera. She is a perfect example of the Paraguayan culture, a culture which encourages sharing in all of its traditions, a culture in which poverty does not impede generosity.
Sitting around the dinner table in the casa de pasantes (the intern’s house) last night I was reminded again of Señora Virginia. We began to discuss the idea of poverty: how it’s defined and who has the liberty to define it. Is it simply a number or is there something more? Many of the women with whom Fundación Paraguaya works don’t consider themselves poor even though they are far below the “poverty line.” The way they see it, if they have enough food, there isn’t much to worry about.