Review: The Blue Sweater

Why I picked it: I saw this book at a friends house last summer.  She had just returned from a conference where the author was the guest speaker.  In my quest to learn how to give back, this was a great book for me to read.

Synopsis: The Blue Sweater is the inspiring story of a woman who left a career in international banking to spend her life on a quest to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it. It all started back home in Virginia, with the blue sweater, a gift that quickly became her prized possession—until the day she outgrew it and gave it away to Goodwill. Eleven years later in Africa, she spotted a young boy wearing that very sweater, with her name still on the tag inside. That the sweater had made its trek all the way to Rwanda was ample evidence, she thought, of how we are all connected, how our actions—and inaction—touch people every day across the globe, people we may never know or meet.

She shows, in ways both hilarious and heartbreaking, how traditional charity often fails, but how a new form of philanthropic investing called "patient capital" can help make people self-sufficient and can change millions of lives. More than just an autobiography or a how-to guide to addressing poverty, The Blue Sweater is a call to action that challenges us to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink our engagement with the world.

Type: Memoir/non-fiction

Quick Take: I'm so glad I listened to this book since I may not have finished it if I was reading a paper copy.  How many books have you started a book only to close it with the intention of finishing?  I was expecting a heartfelt compassionate book about one woman's journey, this book is more academic... explaining the system, it's weaknesses, discovering ways to empower women and make a difference. 

I do encourage everyone to read this book - it was eye opening reading how Jacqueline navigates a male dominated world, not taking no for an answer with the end goal of making the world a better place for women and children in Africa.  She also deals with cultural hurdles, being a white business woman in Rwanda, and at times the women she's working with do not always agree/understand what she's trying to accomplish. Eye opening.

Rating: 4/5 stars
Source: personal copy (audio)
Countries: Rwanda

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