Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A reason to re-Joice!

Two years ago, Joice, who lives in rural Kenya, wore old clothes, lived in a run-down house, and often skipped meals so her children could eat. Then she went to a meeting at a local school. It was hosted by a non-governmental agency called GiveDirectly. It's goal is to end household poverty through unconditional cash transfers given directly from donors to recipients. Joice was assigned number 6875. It meant she'd receive free sums of money without doing anything in return. Over the next year, she received three donations equaling about $1,000 US.

"What surprised me was the unconditionality of the money," she said. "I felt so dignified to be recognized as capable of setting my own priorities." First she bought a goat. Then she used the funds to pay off the cost of her education. Finally she chose to work for the organization that helped her. Today she is a GiveDirectly field officer in Kenya, where she's helping launch a massive cash transfer experiment that will include more than 6,000 recipients over the next decade. And she still shares her story every day. "It elevated my self-esteem as an individual," she says.

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