Archives For Staff / Travels

by Elena Cret, Field Communications Fellow in Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe, the Roma community is often ignored by the government and society. The Roma people are seen as a burden, as having very little value. But two years ago, HOPE Ukraine started reaching out to this underserved community. As HOPE Ukraine’s manager for western Ukraine, Pavel, said:

We wanted to serve our community, we wanted to make an impact, and we realized how much the Roma community is overlooked. We wanted to see financial, social, and, most importantly, spiritual changes among the Roma people.

Here are three ways HOPE Ukraine is impacting the Roma:

  1. Savings and credit associations: These are groups of people who save money together, partnering with the local church. Continue Reading…

A senior at Messiah College, Mahelet has a passion for ministry and sharing the Gospel. Born and raised in Ethiopia until age 16, Mahelet says, “Helping others has always been a part of my life.” She credits her grandparents, who were involved in business, and her mom, who served as a missionary in rural areas of Ethiopia, for their positive influence in her life. Despite her Christian upbringing, Mahelet fell away from her faith in Christ until two years ago, when she recommitted her life to serving Him.

Mahelet heard about HOPE International when President and CEO Peter Greer taught a course at her college. She spoke to him after class and was encouraged to apply for an internship at HOPE. That summer, Mahelet served as the church and community outreach intern.

How does working at HOPE compare with other places you have worked in the past?

“The place I worked before, [my colleagues and I] had a professional relationship. Here at HOPE, I have spiritual relationships and personal relationships too. People are very genuine, sincere, and love their jobs.” Continue Reading…

By Blake Mankin, HOPE Regional Representative Money is a tool, and when we keep our relationship with money private, it can easily become a second master, keeping us from living lives fully obedient to Jesus. In the West, where open conversations about money often feel off limits, rarely discussed even in accountability groups, this openness […]

Continue Reading...

by Annie Rose Ansley, HOPE Trips Liaison

This blog post was originally posted on Esperanza International’s blog.

I like to be independent. I like to accomplish and improve things without relying on or waiting for anyone else. Anyone with me?

0P7A8134Yet here in the Dominican Republic, microfinance groups with HOPE’s partner, Esperanza International, are opening my eyes to the beauty and paradoxical freedom of dependence. Forming a group is the first requirement to taking out a small loan with Esperanza. If an individual cannot repay their loan for any reason, the responsibility lands with the group. This system may sound scary, but it works. Social collateral—neighbors and friends—can be a very powerful guarantee. Members of solidarity groups live in small, close-knit communities, which positively influence each member to repay.

But, of course, there are times when someone is unable to pay back. I have been at many meetings where one client readily covers the meeting’s loan payment for another. Likewise, I have seen these advances repaid time and again. These examples of community dependence are a slice of humble pie for my spirit of skepticism and self-reliance. Continue Reading…

by Grace Engard, Graphic Designer

“None of this was here a few years ago.”

This phrase and variations of it would be repeated again and again during the six days I was in Ukraine. This particular time, my group stood in the center of a small mountain town called Khust in western Ukraine. Down the middle of the cobblestone street, a perfect line of trees dotted a strip of lush green grass. Wooden benches lined either side of the strip, and ornate lampposts towered above. As the afternoon sun filtered in, I imagined the otherwise drab, gray street without the grass and decorations—the way it would have looked only a few years ago.

Ukraine has had a turbulent history, being divided and conquered by various countries for centuries. As a post-Soviet nation, Ukraine’s economy has struggled under the weight of corruption and conflict since the early 1990’s. Even after much economic improvement starting in 2000, the country’s GDP plummeted once again in 2014 following the civil unrest and later conflict in eastern Ukraine. Still today, jobs are scarce, uncertainty runs high, and the average Ukrainian lives on only about $240 per month.

And yet … Continue Reading…

by Lauren Sheard, HOPE Burundi Program Manager

Two years ago, soon after I first moved to Burundi, I was chatting with another expatriate I’d just met. Explaining what I do, I described the basic premise of HOPE International’s savings group ministry, how rather than giving out money or goods directly like a traditional charity we’re teaching people how to save their own money to make a difference in their families and communities. I was pleased with my elevator speech but was caught off guard when the expatriate and his Burundian friend laughed! “This is Burundi,” they said. “That sort of thing can’t possibly make a difference. People don’t have anything, and you’re trying to teach them to save? Maybe in a few decades when the country is better off.” And at that, the conversation ended with another laugh and a sarcastic “good luck!”

I am not one to be offended easily, but in that moment I felt rather indignant. Not only is it rude to laugh at what I just said I do and believe in, but to so easily brush off even the thought that Burundians could have skills and abilities to help themselves was discouraging to me. Continue Reading…