My name is Mary.

When I discovered my husband had hidden from me that he had HIV, I left him and returned home to my parents. Because I followed the doctor’s instruction not to breastfeed my daughter, she is healthy. I joined a Guardians of Hope group and was encouraged to meet, talk and pray with others in the same situation. They have helped me obtain medicine and my health has slowly improved. I received a grant to start a small business of selling vegetables and mango jelly at the market. I have been putting a small amount in the bank for my daughter’s education. I feel like life is just beginning for us.

Unfortunately Mary’s story is not uncommon in some rural villages in India, where girls are often deprived of education and forced to marry young. An uneducated woman is vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. She can feel isolated and lack knowledge of health and nutrition that could greatly improve and extend the life of her family. And yet, in most communities, women are the most important person in breaking the cycle of poverty. For many women, receiving a small grant or loan to start a small business means they have the ability to provide a better future for themselves and their families.

One of the projects to benefit was the building of a girl’s hostel in India for girls to receive education in safe surroundings. Today, 60 girls (age 6-13) from remote villages live at the hostel and attend school because of your generosity. Your letters to Prime Minister Harper encouraging the Canadian government to strengthen its support for the education of girls in the global community has also made a difference. This past spring Canada announced a $120 million commitment to the Global Partnership for Education.

Funds and awareness raised in this year’s campaign will support important initiatives such as:
• Small business grants and loans, business training, health care, and emotional & spiritual support for HIV-positive women
• Skills training, small business creation, and savings and credit opportunities through self-help groups among refugee women in Kenya
• Support for other CBM programs which seek to educate, equip, and empower some of the world’s most marginalized women.

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