IMMENSE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES — IMO Helen Dudley (Colombia, Slovakia)


Immense Missed Opportunities —IMO
by Helene Ballman Dudley (Colombia 1968-70; Slovakia 1997-99)
Peace Corps Writers Press
246 pages
September 2023
$10.00 (Kindle); $22.00 (Paperback)


Helene Ballmann Dudley

Immense Missed Opportunities – IMO draws on the author’s 23 years of experience building sustainable micro-loan programs in marginalized communities around the world. Based on her experience, and backed by research and recommendations from renowned experts, IMO identifies the vast and largely untapped potential for high-impact, low-cost interventions to reduce poverty, food insecurity, economic migration and gender-based violence. Extreme poverty has marginalized people who are living on the front lines of those problems and who have, perhaps the greatest potential to help solve those problems.

People living on under $2 per day require all their energy and problem-solving skills to meet the most basic needs for their families. IMO offers examples of what they can accomplish when they are freed from abject poverty.

The book closely follows a group of market vendors and subsistence farmers in the Yumbe District of Northern Uganda. After receiving micro-loans, they increased their incomes and ended hunger in their families. They then established the Rotary Club of Yumbe and turned their attention to helping “the less fortunate.” Within the first 18 months they adopted ten impoverished villages to reduce waterborne diseases and/or malaria. They learned to drill wells by hand. They trained villagers in the use of water filters to make that water safe. They taught young men to make bricks and build latrines. They helped pregnant women access pre-natal care and then contracted local health workers to follow up on newborns. They are problem solvers who are now freed to focus on community-wide issues.

Immense Missed Opportunities – IMO suggests there are many more change-makers like the Yumbe Rotarians ready to improve their lives and their communities. In the process, they contribute to solving the world’s problems by providing opportunities for people in their communities to live productive lives rather than giving up in despair to join the throngs migrating to foreign countries.

Since many of our borrowers are involved in agriculture in rural communities, to the extend their loans help them make the decision to stay on the land and continue farming, they contribute to the fight again food scarcity.

IMO includes numerous examples of marginalized people and groups making significant contributions to society when given the chance. It is in society’s best interest to find ways to include them and let their voices be heard and let their talents contribute to building a better world for us all. The first step is to give them the means to free themselves from abject poverty.


Leave a comment
  • Congratulations! What wonderful work and tremendous insight. This should be mandatory reading for all Peace Corps trainees, Volunteers, RPCVs and speciifically Peace Corps staff. Thank you.

  • Congratulations, Helene! You have a wealth of experience to share and thoughtful perspective to offer. I’m delighted to be working in partnership with you and gratified to see the impact of your work around the world.

  • Helen,

    I’ve watched your work via Friends of Colombia for many years now. Take a bow–or two, for demonstrating how those who might be marginalized by their birth circumstances can respond to the market if given an opportunity to be a vital part of it through access to capital at fair rates. Your program has changed the lives of so many by simply giving them a chance to be in a market economy.

    Nicely done, too!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Copyright © 2022. Peace Corps Worldwide.