This week, we remember Betty Morrow and her amazing contributions as an activist for justice. Betty passed gently from this world on November 2, 2020 at the age of 94. The following is excerpted from Chacraseca: Raising Nicaragua Families Out of Poverty, originally published in February of 2018.
All Souls has been involved with Nicaragua since the early 1990s after member Betty Morrow traveled there on a medical trip. There she saw, firsthand, the extreme poverty, the lack of education opportunities, and lack of work for women who often are the heads of households.
Betty returned to Tulsa with an idea.
Working with FINCA, she launched a microcredit bank in Nicaragua to fund women-owned businesses. Known for her passion and energy, Betty soon raised $5,000 to get the first microcredit bank capitalized. The bank, and more than 35 others that followed, focus on lending to poor women so they can start and grow micro-enterprises and begin to rise out of poverty.
Subsequently, the Village Banking Committee at All Souls decided to concentrate its support of microcredit in one of the poorest areas of northwest Nicaragua, the Chacraseca region. This concentration began a partnership with JustHope, a Tulsa-based non-profit facilitating long-term partnerships grounded in solidarity, mutuality and collaboration between Nicaraguan and U.S. communities. The women who have borrowed from these microcredit banks have experienced much success and recently voted to raise the interest rates on their loans to put the banks on the path to self-sufficiency.
Kim Marsh-MacLeod writes, “My interest in village banking actually originates with Betty Morrow – I have been aware for more than 20 years that volunteers in the congregation raise money for banks by selling Fair Trade coffee and chocolate on Sunday mornings along with the proceeds of two Sunday collections. I recently joined the Social Justice Council and learned about the Chacraseca opportunity.”