Archives For Client Stories

At 17 years old in the Republic of Congo, Francoise Koudziomina found herself in a predicament: After discovering she was pregnant, her relationship fell apart, leaving her as a single mother and forcing her to drop out of school.

Just two years later, Francoise’s mother died, leaving her as the caretaker for her younger brother, who was the same age as her son. As 19-year-old Francoise scrambled to provide for two toddlers, she made herself a promise: One day, she’d provide for other young, single mothers in situations like hers.

From a young age, Francoise had loved to knit, and in 1997, she opened a business selling clothing for babies and toddlers. With her natural skill, Francoise worked tenaciously to provide for her brother and son. While Francoise was always able to make ends meet, she lived in a state of constant stress about making enough money to meet their needs.

After taking out a loan with a large microfinance institution to invest in her business, Francoise realized that she required more than just financial backing. To really move her business forward, she needed additional training in finance and business practices. Continue Reading…

Kerline Jean Louis

“Before I was part of the savings group, I wasn’t smiling.”

Kerline Jean Louis’ small restaurant is located alongside the bustling highway in Haiti that connects her rural town of Jeanton II with the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The business is perfectly positioned to appeal to the hungry travelers riding the colorful taxis (known affectionately as tap taps), buses, and motorcycles passing by.

A true businesswoman, Kerline likes to adjust her menu according to customer preferences: “It’s really based on demand—some people like grits, some people like rice and beans,” she explains. But before joining a savings group last year, she didn’t have money to purchase the ingredients required to make her most popular dishes. Without reliable access to the necessary ingredients, her business position became precarious.

Then, Kerline’s landlord unexpectedly announced he’d be selling her home; if she wanted to stay there, she’d have to purchase it for the 25,000 gourdes ($388 USD) he was asking for it. As a widow and single mother of three, Kerline is the sole provider for her household. She already struggled to have enough to pay for food, school fees, and rent—there was no way she could afford to buy her home outright. Moving elsewhere offered challenges, too; her home is situated just across the street from her restaurant, and the thought of leaving a space that had been a source of comfort and stability following her husband’s death was difficult to consider.

Kerline and her children were facing the possibility of homelessness.

Continue Reading…

Therese Mukabera

By Sarah Ann Schultz, Marketing Communications Specialist

When Therese Mukabera received her first loan from Urwego Bank, HOPE’s microfinance institution in Rwanda, she decided to start a business burning bricks, weatherproofing them to withstand Rwanda’s heavy rains.

But as a woman attempting to enter a traditionally male profession, she found herself encountering roadblocks to formally starting her business. Day after day, Therese watched men around her receive the necessary permissions to form their enterprises. And day after day, she was passed over, hampered by the common belief that brick burning was men’s work.

Around the world, life is often harder for women than for their brothers, husbands, and sons. Women are less likely to be formally employed than men—and when they are, women are often paid less. Women shoulder greater responsibility for housework, food preparation, water collection, and childcare. Less than 20 percent of the world’s landowners are women. When natural disasters strike, more women die than men.

But here’s the good news: When women are empowered, things change.

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by Luke Harbaugh, HOPE Church Representative

It’s tempting to idealize a life of isolation. The fiction of total independence, full autonomy, and little to no social accountability can sound appealing. However, Genesis 2:18 reminds us “it is not good for a man to be alone,” and we also learn from Genesis that God created us to function as social creatures, living in relationship with Him and in community with others. When we embrace a life of isolation, we are denying a key piece of our design as humans, but when we embrace community, we come alive more fully.

I got to personally witness the healing power of community when I visited Ishaan and his sister Darsha in South Asia last year.* Ishaan used to live a pretty normal life—he was funny, kind, and well-liked by those who knew him. But one day he started to get sick—and this sickness went beyond physical symptoms. His personality seemed to change.

He stopped eating, and he would barely drink. There were also violent outbursts and anger. Where he once used kind words, there was now profanity and insults. He would cry out randomly, and he would snarl and flail wildly. Completely out of character, Ishaan also stopped working. Continue Reading…

When families are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty, life becomes about survival. Focused on providing for their daily needs, individuals have little mental or physical bandwidth to serve those around them.

At HOPE International, we dream of seeing HOPE-network clients empowered to be agents of transformation in their own communities. These five clients exemplify what it means to love your neighbor.

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Like owning a home in the U.S., buying a plot of land in rural Rwanda is a major investment. Not all families can afford the purchase and will instead work on others’ land. But with their own plot, farming families can grow their own food, earn more on the sale of crops, and leave an inheritance for their children.

Odette and her family owned a plot of land years ago, but due to unforeseen medical expenses, they had to sell it. Without a safety net for emergencies, she and her husband struggled to provide for their four young children. Odette often felt alone in her poverty, isolated from those around her. Continue Reading…