Christmas in USA

Yesterday I went to Houston, TX… a quick 24 hour trip but in many ways it was like a trip to a another planet.

Don’t take me wrong, it is not that Texas is such a far off place. Texas is part of the Union and for all it’s eccentrics there are plenty of nice folks there.

Let me explain…


Two worlds in one place

I was visiting Muslim friends from Pakistan who fled to China for their lives… while there, they waited for almost seven years to be accepted by any country… the USA opened wide their generous arms and they were resettled in Houston, Texas!

My friends now live in a large complex mostly inhabited by Pakistanis. I spent the night with friends north of the metro area, they  are Texans of many years and told me how Houston has changed. I was not quite prepared for what I was about to see. As I drove towards my Pakistani friends home, I passed blocks and blocks of Chinese signs, a truly confusing experience. According to Rice University, Houston has become the most racially diverse megalopolis in the US! Who would have thought…

When I arrived, there were three ladies visiting, as I walked in they covered their heads with their scarves and I was escorted to a bedroom. I was not allowed to be in the same room with them.

After they left, I was offered a scrumptious Pakistani meal. I enjoyed their cooking, Pakistani food is amazing! As I ate my friends told me about life in the USA… hard work, taxes, busy and busier… they also shared how they fondly remember their lives in back in a village… a long gone experience.

As I took all this in, I thought… only in America… only in America. Thank God for this generous land which welcomed me and still today welcomes so many.

Christmas is about the greatest gift ever given, the King of King who came in a manger to bring life to all creation.

This King said… when we welcome the stranger we welcome Him.

Merry Christmas!

Our first graduating class


The business women of Pertiwi

These 14 ladies have worked hard, been careful how they manage their resources, and been faithful in paying back their first $100 loan, then their $200 loan, and now after a good year of effort they are receiving their third and final loan of $300. Their achievement is quite special and sets them apart as models of entrepreneurship among our community of 1,138 members.

For this special occasion, we had with us Sacha Huijsman a Micro Lending expert from the Netherlands who pointed out that a MicroLoan enterprise such as ours is usually developed by institutions and not individuals. She encouraged us by affirming our best practices procedures.
It is all about people who truly care for others. Our founder Ibu Sora cared enough to reach out to those who were different than her, yet shared a common need to live in dignity and raise their children to be people that do good.
I had the privilege of meeting Ibu Marcona of Desa Katang Rejo. She decided to use her first loan to support her husband’s vegetable

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Ibu Marcona to my left with the black hijab

business. It was a good investment and she was able to pay her loan on time.

While working with him, she noticed that there was an opportunity for making Tempeh, a healthy soy bean snack that everyone loves. She started selling it to resellers who loved her product. She applied for and received a second loan of $200. The additional cash enabled her to make about 1 kilo per day. Her Tempeh was so good that soon, she had demand for up to 6 kilos per day!
She now has received her third loan of $300 and she will continue to grow her business, employing a couple more ladies to increase her production. Ibu Marcona is but one example of the 14 stories these ladies lives represent. Her two children are going to school and have the blessing of eating well and living healthy.
Our dream is to see our current clients grow and fully develop their skills and business acumen. In doing so, their families gain dignity and respect for themselves as they are lifted from the endless poverty cycle. In turn, they enhance the quality of life and the economy of their communities, creating a more just existence for all.
We have 1,000 new ladies ready to start this process. Each one of them needs $100 to start their business and change their lives.
We aim to raise $100,000 to make this happen. Will you join us and give through Next Step? Your gift will be solely used for the ladies of Medan.