Front cover: children playing at Camp 46
In today’s media-saturated society, the pressing needs of global poverty flash across our TV screens every night. Faced with a constant flurry of images of suffering, maybe you feel powerless – perhaps you become numb or turn away. As the global credit crisis takes its toll on our way of life, it is easy to ignore the poor. But when we face financial difficulties, maybe even job losses, the poor face much worse. The most vulnerable people in the world are always hardest hit in tough times. So what can we do? We’ve written this book to tell you: you can make the world a better place. You don’t need the power to solve all of the world’s problems at the snap of your fingers, before doing something to help others. Love in Action tells the story of how the people of Manly in Sydney, Australia decided to take action against poverty. It will show you how ordinary people can take small steps to make a real difference. And it tells how these small steps have the potential to provide a giant leap for mankind.
Love in Action Taking Action Against Poverty
As we learn to bless others we ourselves will be blessed. Ken Duncan
Foreword by Ken Duncan Life often has many challenges and some people face very difficult situations in our world today. If we’re not careful we can become overwhelmed in the face of such need. I believe God brings the issues of the world to our attention – not so that we may be overcome, but that we may be overcomers with His divine help, and become part of a solution. If we do nothing we lose a great opportunity to make a difference, and if we aim to really love people there must be action. Over the years I have seen many injustices and inequalities where I have had the chance to try and make a difference. For me, seeing needs and experiencing the joy of helping people makes life exciting. When all is said and done, usually “more is said than done”. When we become a doer, we find one of the keys to a fulfilling life and break the chains of apathy. It is on my adventures and involvement with others that I first met Stuart Harris. Stuart shared with me some of the projects that he is involved in and I saw he has a real heart to help people. I have endeavoured to encourage him to produce this book Love in Action – and to share the ideas behind Manly-Manado with you.
My hope is that learning about this wonderful initiative may help inspire you to see where you too could make a difference. Even in buying this book, you will be helping others – proceeds will go towards improving the lives of the people of Manado. The people you’ll meet in Stuart’s photos and Jim’s stories. I wish you all well and may you reap out of life that which you have sown. I really do hope that this book will stimulate you to dream about how you too can put love into action. For faith plus action has the power to overcome our fears – and change the world in the process. With Love and Blessings Ken Duncan OAM
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. Anne Frank
Introduction As with any labour of love, Love in Action began with a dream – a desire to share the story of something extraordinary, something powerful, happening in the life of our local community. Love in Action is a story of hope: how one neighbourhood in the corner of the world – Manly, in Sydney, Australia – formed a relationship with the people of Manado, Indonesia, to take action against poverty. From its small beginnings with only a handful of local residents, this grassroots movement has captured the imagination of Manly’s wider community. It now includes support of local council, local businesses, schools and churches, and over 13,000 residents. Several distinctive aspects of the Manly-Manado initiative make it unique. At its core, it centres around a community partnership with Manado; not just a one-off event or an annual program, but a long-term relationship. This allows poverty alleviation to take place on a manageable one-to-one basis, growing, as more people get involved. One person can contribute to one person; one family to one family; eventually, one community to one community. The partnership’s efforts are directed at improving people’s lives – beyond just raising money. Working with Manado-based development partners (Compassion providing holistic child development, and Bridge of Hope helping poor entrepreneurs escape poverty via ‘microfinance’ small business loans) those involved in Manly can identify and begin to get to know the recipients in Manado.
Manly-Manado is a volunteer movement. The beauty of this is the ability to gather ordinary people from across the community, harness their God-given gifts, talents and abilities, and put them into action. Locals have organised a wide range of events – from Salsa dancing, to sponsored walks – increasing the awareness of global poverty through local connections and education in schools and churches. Collectively as these efforts have grown, they have created an extraordinary impact. Eager to tell this story, in 2008, we visited Manado to see the impact of Manly’s actions. This book documents our journey – a mixture of words (from Jim) and pictures (from Stu). We share inspiring stories of our experiences meeting those who struggle in poverty, and show the transformation as opportunity, hope, dignity and freedom are given to the people of Manado. You’ll meet members of the 1,280 families empowered to grow their own businesses and see the changes in the lives of some of the 200 children now sponsored. Being part of Manly-Manado has been life-changing for all involved – it’s not just a one-way street. In Manly we’ve learned that everybody can make a difference – and that when people work together for change, they too can be changed by their actions. Our dream is that Love in Action will inspire you to “go and do likewise” and join with your friends and neighbours to take action against poverty.
Manado City of Contrasts
Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent lifeâ€Ś Nelson Mandela
Manado Why Manado?
Our trip to Manado
Manly’s relationship with Manado and East Indonesia began in the year 2000. People in Manly became aware of the plight of refugees pouring into Manado, escaping from civil unrest in neighbouring islands and provided them with support. When searching for a developing community partner, Manado was a logical choice – given this established connection and its location on Australia’s doorstep.
Armed with a couple of cameras, notebooks and a sense of adventure, we set off to Manado to capture footage of people’s everyday lives. Most of our time was spent on the outskirts of the city – visiting surrounding villages, taking photos of farms and rural landscapes and talking to locals involved in the Manly-Manado partnership. We began to understand why the people of this region have a reputation as the ‘smiling people’. Despite the hardship of their daily lives, they are always friendly, hospitable and welcoming.
Manado’s poverty Set in a mountain-rimmed bay on the tip of Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province, Manado city is the region’s capital and home to over 400,000 people. With a history as a centre of the Dutch spice trade, Manado has long been a bustling trading port. Now, because of its surrounding natural beauty, ecotourism is the main attraction. Visitors stay in modern hotels and enjoy newly built shopping centres. Scuba diving and snorkelling are popular in the nearby Bunaken Marine Reserve. Yet, Manado provides a snapshot of the glaring global inequalities in today’s world. Sights of new housing, lush tropical vegetation and markets full of food, obscure the poverty that exists under the city’s polished veneer. For some 40,000 people in and around the city, this contrast is striking. They face a daily struggle to meet their family’s needs, living on or below the poverty line of US$2/day. It is these people you will meet in the following pages.
We also visited people living in the poorer neighbourhoods of Manado city. Many of them rely on Manado’s markets to provide a livelihood, selling what they can. Produce is mainly fish, fruit and vegetables: shallots, tomatoes, carrots, limes, rambutan fruits, and about ten different types of banana – the local favourite. The hot, pollution-filled air doesn’t stop people smiling here either and we were the centre of attention as we wandered among the market stalls photographing, trying to avoid the ever-present blue mini-buses. During our visit we were confronted with some depressing sights of poverty – spurring us on to help Manado’s people work towards a better life. But we also realised we have much to learn from the poor: their buoyant response to adversity; their thankful generosity; their positive outlook and great faith.
Manado cityâ€™s rooftops at dusk. Set in a bay, the city is surrounded by volcanoes â€“ although rarely active they do occasionally rumble.
This intricate system of strings criss-crossing a farmerâ€™s rice field in Manadoâ€™s rural hinterland was fascinating. Designed to rattle and keep birds away, the farmer could operate it from the comfort of a rocking chair!
Microfinance Working Against Poverty
The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life are in his own hands, when he has the means to seek self-improvement. Mar tin Luther King Jr.
Microfinance One of the most powerful antipoverty tools available today is ‘microfinance’ – a business solution to poverty. Providers supply poor people with small ‘microloans’ and other financial services that they can’t get from regular banks. By helping a mother buy a sewing machine to start a village mending business, or expanding a shop’s stock to increase the number of customers – microfinance enables a person to earn an income and provide for their family’s needs. Microfinance works by borrowers forming a loan group of friends that share repayment responsibility – giving comfort to the lender and adding an important social support to breed community spirit. Charging a moderate interest rate covers the provider’s costs and offers borrowers a dignified alternative to the excessive prices of a village loan shark. Training also helps people grow through several loan cycles until they have successful, self-sufficient businesses. Manly-Manado’s Indonesian microfinance partner is Bridge of Hope. Using this locally based provider ensures the staff are familiar with Manado’s poverty and that donations are targeted at those who need it most. We visited ten Bridge of Hope loan groups while in Manado. At first, everybody’s story seems the same: “loans gave me more money to expand my business, now I’m happy because I have more income to support my family, improve my home etc…” Yet, each person’s unique skills and industrious creativity shone through.
We met people weaving baskets, cooking satay sticks on coconut shell fires, growing vegetables, baking cakes, winding palm fibre into rope cord, carving sandals out of disused car tyres and, of all things, running a village beauty salon. Dreams of a better life are being fulfilled as people use their talents for a trade. Parents can now feed their families or visit a doctor when a family member is sick; they are raising children with hopes of a brighter future – things they couldn’t afford to do before Bridge of Hope offered them a way forward. One highlight for us was meeting the ‘Shining Light’ group. Seventeen women who’d borrowed money for their farming, shop kiosk and hot food enterprises – all of which were steadily growing; they were also managing to set aside some savings each week. Rather than have this money just sit around, they’d invested it – sowing flower seeds! We trudged out to the fields on the edges of Tomohon, above Manado, to see these ladies carefully bury their investments. Timed to flower for the town’s summer festival, their marigolds will make them a tidy profit. They were happy and fun to be with. We enjoyed their company and ate a generous feast they laid out for us. These rural businesswomen demonstrate the simple beauty of microfinance. Hidden in the soil of each human heart is a seed of potential. Microfinance, recognising the ingenuity of the poor, sprouts this seed into life and helps it blossom.
Please visit www.loveinaction.com.au to purchase this book.
Love in Action Change your world. We live at an amazing time in history. Globalisation is making our world small, but not necessarily better. Today’s global poverty leaves half of humanity in its wake – massive needs that we cannot afford to ignore. With the recent global credit crunch and a deepening food crisis, the world’s poor are again hardest hit. They need us to take action on their behalf. But what difference can we make? With over 100 stunning photos Love in Action captures the inspiring story of how the ordinary residents of Manly, Sydney decided to take action against poverty. Meet the people of Manado, Indonesia and hear how thousands of lives have been transformed as opportunity, hope, dignity and freedom flow from a community partnership with the people of Manly. Discover some of the treasures that can be captured through such a community relationship and learn how you too can play your part in making our world a better place. www.loveinaction.com.au
All profits raised from the sale of this book will directly benefit the people of Manado.
Produced in Australia