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John Poole

John is a native of the Chicago area and a Vietnam veteran. He has been generously supporting Grameen Foundation on an annual basis since 2007.

John first began supporting people living in poverty while he was a sergeant in charge of the headquarters company of the battalion's supply room in Chu Lai, Vietnam. He noticed that the Vietnamese people, who worked at day-labor jobs, seemed undernourished, eating small portions of rice twice a day. He began to share apples and oranges from the barrels in the mess hall with them and continued sharing for the last six months he was there.

In 1984, John traveled to Nicaragua with the nonprofit Veterans Peace Action Teams. The 10-day visit was organized to support members of a coffee-growing cooperative living in a war zone. During the visit, he cultivated relationships with the local people and worked with them to build outdoor latrines and rebuild a health clinic that had been hit by a mortar shell. John returned to Central America frequently after this initial trip.

From 1989-1996, he traveled with other Midwesterners to support people in poverty in the war-torn mountains of El Salvador. Traveling with the group Semilla de Libertad (Seed of Liberty), he cultivated relationships with the local people and financially supported the construction of a daycare center and kindergarten.

In 1997, John discovered an organization that provided micro-loans in Nicaragua, and he has been loaning funds and donating to a variety of microcredit organizations ever since. He was introduced to Grameen Foundation via the Omidyar website. He especially likes the way Grameen helps get appropriate technology into the hands of the working poor people. He was struck by the story of a small-scale farmer who was quoted a price for his crop, who then checked his phone for other price quotes. He found one that was six times higher than the price first he had been quoted--showing the power of mobile technology to help address problems of poverty.