Archives For Client Stories

Each year, HOPE celebrates clients who demonstrate our values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award winner. 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 Eckness, this year’s winner of savings group programs!

When Eckness was a teenager, her family could no longer afford to send her to school—a problem many Malawian families face. And like many Malawian youth in her situation, Eckness dropped out of school and got married.

As Eckness and her husband worked to provide for their three children, they struggled to get by. “I was not even able to make offerings at church,” Eckness remembers now. “I kept praying before God to find a way to make a living.”

When Eckness heard about savings groups facilitated through a church in her community, she says, “My heart was comforted. I realized there was still a future—a way.” 

EcknessUsing loans from her savings group, Eckness obtained her high school degree, a college degree in early childhood development, and a certificate in business management. After finishing her own education, Eckness was able to turn her attention to a need that had always disturbed her: the lack of affordable daycare options in her community.

With deep compassion for her students, Eckness gives grace for those who struggle to pay their school fees. Many of her students come from Muslim families, and Eckness is eager to share her faith with them.

“I have confidence in my abilities to make things happen because I depend on God,” Eckness says. “Now, when I want to pursue something, I know it is possible.”

Around the HOPE network, clients are growing closer to Christ, saving their own money, and employing their God-given skills to care for their family. Learn more about how HOPE equips families to flourish.

 


Each year, HOPE celebrates clients who demonstrate our values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award winner. 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 Andonie, this year’s winner of microfinance programs!

A member of the Mandaya tribe, one of nearly 200 indigenous people groups in the Philippines, Andonie Digaynon grew up in a culture where education wasn’t highly valued. Not only was the school a long, difficult walk from his rural home, but his family needed him to help earn money. As a result, Andonie dropped out of school after the second grade.

But Andonie hasn’t let his limited education hold him back.

Today, he owns a successful business producing chicharon, a popular local snack food made out of pork skin. He and his wife, Elfa, have adopted two children and are using their resources to invest in young people. As Dexter, their son, describes, “Papa is an inspiration to others because, despite having only a second-grade education, his family has never gone hungry.”

After learning to make chicharon from a relative, Andonie spent a year and a half perfecting his own secret recipe. “Sometimes, I would find myself in tears,” he recalls of the long process of trial and error. Andonie used initial loans from the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), HOPE’s partner in the Philippines, to purchase ingredients and supplies.

As his business has grown, Andonie has used subsequent loans to renovate his home, where he produces and packages his product, and to purchase a lightweight van for deliveries.

He now sells over 5,000 pounds of chicharon a month throughout General Santos City and the surrounding region.

Andonie DigaynonIn addition to business growth, Andonie appreciates how his relationship with CCT has helped him mature in his faith. Though only 9 percent of the Mandaya people identify as Christians, Andonie grew up in a family of believers and came to know the Lord at a young age thanks to the outreach of Filipino pastors. Today, Andonie’s faithful presence at CCT’s weekly fellowship meetings, despite his busy schedule, inspires others to follow his example.

Knowing the challenges he’s had to overcome, Andonie cares deeply about education. He supported Elfa as she attended college and is proud of her current work as a town councilor. He also helped send Dexter and another relative to college.

Andonie and Elfa have also opened their home to seven teenagers from his home community. Just like when Andonie was a child, these boys and girls are statistically unlikely to graduate, but thanks to Andonie and Elfa’s hospitality, they are all now attending quality high schools in the city.

Andonie praises God for the transformation he has seen in his family’s life: “I thank God that I am no longer poor, that my family can eat three times a day … and that we can go places we want to go.”

Around the HOPE network, clients are growing closer to Christ, saving their own money, and employing their God-given skills to care for their families. Learn more about how HOPE equips families to flourish.

Johana

Johana remembers the moment she found out she was pregnant. Her husband was no longer living with her at their home in Comas, Peru, and when she told him, he didn’t want anything to do with their baby—financially or otherwise. In this time of isolation, the Lord spoke powerfully to Johana through His Word, reminding her that He would never forsake her: Continue Reading…

Serafina

“My whole life, I had never had a job or done anything to get money to feed myself and my family. I would just go dig out in [a neighbor’s] field then get food for me and my family,” Serafina recalls. “For some reason, I thought that was enough, and I thought that’s how life was meant to be.”

Continue Reading…

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…