|Name: Hannah Duncan|
College: Taylor University
Hannah Duncan came to the Dominican Republic with a group from her college, Taylor University. With a love for life and lots of energy, Hannah used her passion for business, sense of humor, and love to learn in order to interweave her life story with those here in the Dominican Republic!
I was sitting on the brick ledge of a front porch in Jarabacoa. As I sat there listening to the women around me, I was hit with this realization: that contrary to my beliefs, in order for Microfinance to do “well” and accomplish its goal of improving the standard of living for others, the bottom line is ultimately not about sustainability. As I began to mull this concept over in my head, every fiber of my business-brained being cringed. For 3 three years I had studied in school that business is about the bottom line. It is about gaining profits, meeting quotas, being efficient, growing, and being sustainable. However, as I looked into the smiling eyes of the women around me, that was not the objective for the people at that meeting. It may have been a desire, but it was not the end goal. I saw this played out when I watched the women have their picture taken. The way the women reacted to getting their picture taken made me laugh. Several of the women were shy and needed some coxing in order to have their picture taken, while others pulled out the makeup and were ready for a photo shoot right then and there. As I witnessed this scene play out before me, I let the idea that gaining profits, growing, being sustainable was not what measured the level of success that the MF site would encounter, but rather success was measured by the depth of relationship built between the women in that circle.
As the week progressed I was exposed to more ways of how impactful the MF site was for so many of the women. I made hospital visits and home visits, I washed chairs, de-feathered chickens, and taught a class on stewardship -- all things I never would have associated with Microfinance, but the reality is that all those things are what being the hands and feet of Christ look like. Microfinance is a truly empowering concept, but nothing is more empowering then a relationship established upon the love of Christ. Microfinance is one avenue to minister to people, but keeping it to the narrow mindset of bottom lines and profits is very constricting. I am able to say that I have learned because of the relationships that I saw play out at the MF site. Microfinance is a very powerful tool that incorporates both the love of Christ with the empowerment of economic freedom.
My story was impacted by the experiences I had on my trip. The MF site is not only impacting my story, but the stories of dozens of women and families. Christ tells us in Matthew 25 that, “‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” In my life I have found a knack with business. I have studied the history of Microfinance, and this concept resonated with me. It made sense. People can be pulled out of poverty through equipping them with loans. The part that I was always missing in my story was the relationship. Student International’s MF site has been able to intertwine the deep seeded value of relationship amongst a community and as a result, not only are people’s standards of living improving, but so too is their standard of loving as Christ loves!