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Book Review: The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz

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In The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, Jacqueline Novogratz shares a fascinating tale of how she became a businesswoman whose company is making strides in combating the problems of countries who need help the most. Would you believe it all started with an article of clothing?

A donation to Goodwill is something most of us do without thinking twice. After all, everybody has stuff they are not going to ever need or use. Someone else can probably use it. When the inexpensive price of purchasing the item is considered, it's easy to give the whatever away. This is what Novogratz did when the appeal of wearing the sweater grew old. She simply found a place where people would ensure somebody else might make good use of it.

Years later, she was in Rwanda when she noticed a young boy wearing a sweater which looked rather familiar. She checked, and the tag had her name on it.

Rwanda. Out of all the countries discussed in this book, this is the one which stuck with me the most. Why? Novogratz goes into detail about the genocide the world ignored from the perspective of those who had actually gone through it. To say people had differences of opinion is an understatement, for the conflict is much deeper. This situation has more twists and turns than your average television show. Power, religion, hatred, and propaganda all mixed together to create one of the worst disasters modern society has ever known.

For some women like Agnes, who worked in the government at a high level, the chances of denying knowledge of plans to destroy an entire group of people were slim. To make matters worse, Agnes would probably say she was doing the right thing so the minority Tutsi party would never be able to topple the Hutu majority. Even though the Tutsis were in an aristocracy rule over the nation, this was beside the point. They had to go. A government propaganda campaign with strong messages of hate helped to reinforce the idea.

Others were targets because of their political associations. Prudence was not only a government official, she was a moderate when it came to where she stood on various issues. Yes, there were two parties. They did not have to agree on everything in order to live side by side. For extremists, this left a bad taste in their mouths. The only way to make it palatable was by her passing. As it happened, she ended up in prison on false charges for two years.

These women are only two of the fascinating personalities readers will meet in the course of this nonfiction work. Africa is a continent of many different countries. Each has its own culture, traditions, and way of relating to the world. Poor? In finances, perhaps, which is a serious reason why Novogratz was there in the first place. However, there is also a richness of spirit which cannot be denied. The study of Africa is something  everyone should take up.

Novogratz has taken a long journey throughout her life, and gives her readers a special gift by sharing it. She started the Acumen Fund as a way to help those around the world gain independence and a strong sense of self esteem. My only problem with The Blue Sweater was not being provided a way to contact the Acumen Fund. They might not need money, but there could be other ways to help if one was so inclined. I'm a little surprised there is not a website listing simply because this group works in various places around the world.

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