The stories behind the numbers

January 26, 2015

Over the past two years, we have had the privilege of working with dozens of people in the village of Bauya. We have experienced the joys and the challenges of interacting with people. The joys include seeing people recognize the value of an opportunity to earn an income and understand that it is worth what they put into it. Among the challenges have been people who have slept while they should have been working, a few who have stolen from us, and a few who have been involved in fistfights on the job. The joys have far outweighed the challenges, and our focus remains on investing in the many people who want to improve the quality of life for their families and are willing to do their part to achieve this.

We keep a ledger that tracks the income every person has ever received by working with Just Hope. At first glance, this is just a spreadsheet with rows and columns of dates and numbers. Behind those numbers are stories of provision and worth.

The first December we were in Bauya, the Paramount Chief told us, “I know who is working with Just Hope because they are the ones having Christmas in their homes.” As a self-employed mechanic, Joseph Bongay used to go a month or two at times without income. Since working with Just Hope he says, “I am using my household income to support my family with foods, paying school fees and medical bills. Access to my children’s education has improved because I now have a steady flow of income to pay for my children’s school fees, lunch and books.”

The numbers also don’t tell the story of the impact of a job, not just on quality of life, but on quality of spirit. Saidu Conteh said that working for Just Hope has given him confidence, and Dauda Koroma said it has earned him the respect of his community. Joseph Lassayo said, “Working for Just Hope is a blessing and pleasure because I am part of the development of my chiefdom.”

In Bauya, a steady paycheck is bigger than the number of Leones a person receives. It’s assurance that the family will eat well. It’s the ability to request medical care, and for children to go to school. Above all, working produces stability, confidence and hope that can fuel a person’s continued efforts to lift themselves out of poverty.