NEW YORK - When Albina du Boisrouvray was confronted with one of life’s most difficult losses – the death of her only child – she turned her grief into something positive: she created a legacy for her son by helping people around the world out of poverty in his name.
Albina du Boisrouvray was born into privilege, had a successful career in film and literary arts and married a business magnate. She seemed to have a charmed life. But in 1986, her world was forever changed when her son Francois-Xavier Bagnoud was killed in a helicopter accident.
“He was a very dedicated search-and-rescue pilot and he lost his life at age 24 in a mission in Mali,” said du Boisrouvray.
She created FXBVillage to accomplish what Francois-Xavier died too soon to do himself.
“So when I set up this organization, I wanted it to take on his commitment to rescuing people on a large basis, and that’s why I started with those children who were so destitute and the people living in poverty,” she said.
FXB began working in 1990 in Uganda, helping children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and their guardians move from poverty to self-sufficiency by investing in them. Today, FXB works in eight countries with some of the highest chronic poverty rates in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Eighty to 100 families at a time are brought into the program or “village” for three years. In the first year, they receive free food, health care, education and housing, so the breadwinner can focus on building a business to sustain the family long-term. Whether it is the purchase of a single cow, a sewing machine or farming tools, FXB provides it all, none of it is a loan.
“And so the second year they have made savings and they participate in the budget, about 25 percent, we invest 75 percent. Third year it’s 50-50; the fourth year they are on their own,” said du Boisrouvray.
She said building a family’s ability to provide for itself has helped lift more than 80,000 people out of poverty over the past 25 years. The program costs a modest $125 to $230 per person per year but the payoff is huge, with 86 percent of families who have completed the program succeeding in getting out - and staying out - of extreme poverty.
“It also gives women and children, but mostly women, back their dignity, their pride and it unleashes all their capabilities of creativity and work,” she said.
When people are empowered, she said, they can help themselves and their families achieve a better life.