Each year, HOPE celebrates clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. We’re excited to share the story of Savera, this year’s winner!
For years, Savera Mutemariya and her husband struggled to support their family. Like many people in the community of Kigabiro, Rwanda, they supported their family mostly through what they grew in their fields, making it difficult to consistently provide for their family’s needs.
“My life was very bad,” Savera remembers. “Getting food was very hard. I didn’t have a house. I had three kids, but I wasn’t able to pay for primary school fees.”
When Savera heard about Urwego Bank, HOPE’s microfinance bank in Rwanda, it sounded too good to be true. Surprised to hear that Urwego would work with women—something that many banks refused to do—Savera eagerly signed up. With her first loans, Savera began selling peanuts at market. “I started to realize I was capable,” she says. “I used to believe I couldn’t do much, but I came to realize I was quite capable.”
In the decade since her first loan, Savera has used her entrepreneurial spirit and loans from Urwego to expand into a number of different businesses. Employing 50 people in her community, she manages a supermarket, a hardware store, farming activity, a painting business, a carpentry business, and a group of rental properties.
As her family’s financial situation stabilized, Savera grew increasingly passionate about developing her community. Knowing what it’s like to be in need, Savera serves those around her in countless ways. She has adopted eight orphans, in addition to paying for school fees and health insurance for many of her neighbors and employees. She allows her employees to take food from her fields to support their families, and she built wells in her community so that her neighbors could have easy access to clean water. She shares freely of her business knowledge with her neighbors, teaching them to farm and raise cows.
“Through giving, I came to learn that blessings multiply,” Savera says. “I give with joy because I know God multiplies.” Passionate about her relationship with Christ, Savera also leads several families in Bible studies in her home each week.
Since her husband died several years ago, Savera has held fast to the belief that God is with her. “I gained a great relationship with God from my struggles of poverty,” she shares. “I learned how to lean on God with a little or a lot. My problems are no longer a challenge to me; I take them to Him.”