Charles Friend, The Ohio State University - Microfinance
It took me a while to realize that to be born with the opportunity to enter American higher education is perhaps the greatest gift that one can ever receive. Since I was led to Haiti as a teenager, it dawned on me that perhaps one reason I was given the gift of higher education was to impact the lives of the Haitian people, the most courageous and enduring people I have ever met.
For one reason or another, I was eventually led to the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University to pursue a degree in Finance. After spending a good deal of time in Haiti while studying, the Lord eventually led me to find an avenue to enrich the lives of the people I had encountered there, or more importantly, an avenue to lead them to enrich their own lives. I realized that that could be done quite effectively in many ways through the system of microfinance.
Though the concept certainly has its flaws, I learned that a system of small business lending has the potential to help bring people with a drive to succeed into a better situation by generating income for themselves, their families, and their communities. Through my business education at Ohio State, I pray that I may learn further about ways to help people change their living situations through profit creating activities that eventually lead to value added to their communities, employment generation, and financial freedom granted to themselves and those around them.
More importantly, I hope to lead others to encounter the wonderful country of Haiti, because, contrary to what much of the mission community may believe, it has far more to give to us than we could ever dream of giving to it. I pray that I can continue to learn from the Haitian people throughout my life, as they can certainly teach us more than a thing or two about steadfast devotion, a peaceful life, and an unbreakable resilience that seems to be woven into each and every one of them.