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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.

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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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Before her graduation in August from Florida International University, Aisha Arias was a part of her campus chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Through InterVarsity, she attended the Urbana missions conference, where HOPE International had a stand. Aisha recalls, “I became intrigued with doing missions with finance, so I checked out HOPE’s website and saw they were offering an internship that suited my interests.” Continue Reading…

Belyse Kamugisha shares an encouraging message inspired by what she’s witnessed as she travels to serve savings group members in Burundi in her role as quality assurance officer.

 

 

As you celebrate Christmas and look forward to the coming new year, may you be filled with joy for God’s gift of salvation and for the way He is working in our lives. He is worthy of our praise!

 

by Haley Smith, Regional Representative

When I was young giving didn’t necessarily come naturally—but finding ways to make money did.

At the age of six, my first business was the classic lemonade stand. I made the lemonade, painted a traffic-stopping sign, and set up a table. As the minutes ticked by without a single cup sold, I started to get impatient. Unready to surrender my losses, I determinedly went door to door, and, to my surprise, I sold every last cup.

For me, this was a turning point. I had earned something on my own, and now it was up to me to decide what to do with it. Recognizing this new passion, my parents began to talk with me about managing my own money.

They wanted to know how would I use my newfound income? Did I want to save any of it? Did I want to give any of it away? I wanted to give—but I also really wanted the new Boyz II Men cassette tape. It was going to be a tough call. Continue Reading…

by Lori Oberholtzer, Field Communications Manager

Advent is for people like me—those who have lost, mourned, and grieved.

For the last several years, I’ve looked forward to Advent, but this year I crave it. In a new way, I’m more deeply longing to feel the resurrection power that Advent points us toward. Advent acknowledges the oh-so-real tension that we’re living in a fallen world, yet God sent His Son to redeem this world and will one day make everything right again.

Not just some aspects of the world, but everything.

This year’s events, close to me and around the world, weigh heavy on my heart. Continue Reading…