Archives For hope-international

It’s back-to-school season in the United States. Yellow school buses once again join the morning commute; teachers prepare lesson plans for the year to come; social media brims with photos of eager, sharply dressed children.

But around the world, many children are again seeing their peers don neat, identical uniforms and walk to school—and wishing they could join them.

Where education at a young age is both an expectation and a requirement for many of us, it is a hard-earned luxury for much of the world. The numbers are staggering: Around the world, an estimated 62 million elementary school-aged children are not enrolled in school, according to the World Bank.

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By Dan Williams, Director of Spiritual Integration

A weekly series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

As we continue to dive into God’s requirements of us in Micah 6:8, let’s look at what it means to walk humbly. This may be the hardest one, but stick with me.

In all of my travels, one of the most fascinating historical sights I have visited is La Citadelle in northern Haiti. After Haiti won its independence from France in a slave rebellion in 1804, the first Haitian king of the North built an enormous fortress on the mountains overlooking the sea to protect the island from a French return. It may be one of the most impressive structures I’ve ever visited. The tragic irony of this fortress is that the Haitian king built the fortress using slave labor—enslaving 20,000 of his kinsman for its construction, with thousands perishing during the project due to overwork.

Why would a king, who was granted his kingdom through a rebellion of slaves, turn around and enslave his own people for a huge construction project? At a certain point, that king became so concerned with protecting his kingdom that he didn’t care what it cost the people he was supposed to be protecting. Continue Reading…

By Dan Williams, Director of Spiritual Integration

A weekly series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

As we continue to dive into God’s requirements of us in Micah 6:8, let’s look at what it means to love mercy.

Driving home late from work one night in Haiti, I had a terrible motorcycle accident … involving a cow. The most severe of my injuries were compound open fractures to my left forearm—meaning that a surgeon in Florida had to repair it with two plates, 13 screws, and remove something that “looked like cow fur” lodged in my wound. Continue Reading…

By Dan Williams, Director of Spiritual Integration

A seven-week series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

As we dive into God’s requirements of us in Micah 6:8, let’s start by looking at what it means to act justly.

My first job with HOPE was split living in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. As I regularly traveled across the island of Hispaniola, I got quite familiar with the border crossing between the two neighboring countries.

On one trip, I got stopped at the Dominican border because I had overstayed my tourist visa. I was pulled into a small room that had a single desk staffed by a lone Dominican officer, and a line of people, entirely Haitian, who had also overstayed their visas. I watched as each person negotiated the fine they would have to pay to exit the country, noting that each person paid different fines. Without any definitive scale, the reasons behind our varying fines were based on arbitrary reasons. One person paid more simply because the officer deemed his passport was too dirty. When I received my own fine, I realized that I paid less than every Haitian before me.

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By Dan Williams, Director of Spiritual Integration

A seven-week series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration

The flight attendant came on the intercom announcing our final descent into Rwanda. Giving up on my attempt to nap, I began gathering my things in preparation for landing, ensuring that my seatback was in the upright position, my tray table stowed, and my carry-on under the seat in front of me. Fully prepared for landing, I noticed my row companion taking out his earbuds, so I began conversing with him for the first time. An eager short-term mission trip participant, this was his first visit to Rwanda.

“What brings you to Rwanda?” he asked.

“I work for a microenterprise development network called HOPE International,” I told him. “We have two programs here in Rwanda.”

Somewhat familiar with microfinance, he was intrigued, recalling prior reading about how access to small loans and a safe place to save can be transformational for families living in poverty. He’d even heard of HOPE. “What do you do for HOPE International?” he asked.

Despite knowing the reaction I often get when I describe my role, I risked honesty. “I’m the director of spiritual integration,” I told him.

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Unity Savings Group, Malawi

By Kevin Tordoff, Vice President of Marketing

I recently found myself in Malawi, known colloquially as the Warm Heart of Africa. Driving into a southern community, we stopped by the side of the road by Nixon, a volunteer church facilitator for savings groups. Nixon has been serving in this role for the past four years—almost since HOPE Malawi’s inception. Riding his trusty bicycle, Nixon weaved his way through the dusty dirt roads, guiding us to the home where the savings group meeting was held.

Like many savings groups around the HOPE International network, the Mgwirizano (“unity”) savings group is comprised of 14 multi-generational members. As the meeting began, they enthusiastically shared how the loans from their pooled savings had allowed them to build and repair their homes, how goats had been purchased for breeding and other productive purposes. Their hard work farming small plots of land and selling the produce at market enabled the members to have the funds needed to pay back any loans disbursed from the group’s savings.

Leading HOPE’s marketing department for over a decade, these stories had begun to feel standard—I’d read and heard countless stories like the one the group shared, and I’d even had the opportunity to visit savings groups in the past that looked very similar to this one.

But then, a young man, Samson, from the group arose and directed an unexpected question at me: “Where have you been, HOPE?”

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