I recently wrote about LDS humanitarian services. One of my favorite programs is the Perpetual Education Fund.
Announced in 2001 by LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley, the program provides education funds to young men and women around the world. It is patterned after the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, which the Church used to help pioneers cross the country to Salt Lake City in the 1800s. Tens of thousands of Church members received the means to come to Utah, many coming all the way from Europe, and once arriving and establishing a home here paid the money back so that it could be used for others in the same manner.
The new PEF works in much the same way. A fund has been established through the continuing donations of members and friends of the Church. These donations are then used to make loans to young people, generally men and women age 18-30, so that they can get an education in a needed field in their home communities. After graduation, and once employment is secured, the loans are paid back so that they can be used again by others.
When this plan was announced, I rejoiced and along with many others immediately donated to the fund. As a missionary in Uruguay I had often wondered at how fortunate I was to be born in a country that offered so many advantages and possibilities, while many of the people I had come to love did not. The Perpetual Education Fund offered a way for these very people to learn a trade that could enable them to leave their poverty behind and change the course of their family for generations.
The fund has been a great success. None of the donated money is used for administrative costs; all goes towards education. Over 10,000 loans have been made, with the average age of the recipient being 26, 45 percent of whom are women. The program not only offers funds for schooling, but also incorporates training in goal setting, budgeting, and managing finances. Before training, the average income for participants is $135 a month. After training, that increases to $580 per month. Initially, the program has been offered in Latin America, the Caribbean, Philippines, and southeast Africa, but ultimately will only be limited by the number of donations.
As the year ends and we reflect on the past and make plans for the future, might I suggest a worthy cause for our money? By following this link, you can donate to the Perpetual Education Fund and help people in some of the most poverty stricken areas of the world.