Archives For children

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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 I would 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.

Over time, my desire to keep what was mine slowly shifted as I watched how freely my parents shared what they had. They gave out of a love for God and gratitude for what He had given them. We had many conversations about why they chose to tithe to our church but to also invest in the needs of others. These conversations helped form my understanding of stewardship and my responsibility to give.

Honest and transparent conversations are necessary if we want our kids to grow up with healthy, wise, and generous perspectives on what we have each been given.

So where do you start? Here are some simple steps parents can take to instill a passion for generosity in your children:

  • Show children and teenagers how you give. Too often, giving is a family secret. But by showing your kids how you give, children can catch the vision for generosity and the causes you are passionate about.
  • Read Watching Seeds Grow by Peter Greer and Keith Greer. On a trip to Rwanda, 8-year-old Keith had his eyes opened to the stories of entrepreneurs, starting a family journey to learn financial literacy at a young age.
  • Match your kids’ giving. When parents match their children’s giving, parents begin to understand what touches their children’s hearts, and children discover that parents also value those causes.
  • Give from HOPE’s gift catalog this Christmas. Transform gift-giving into a teachable moment by purchasing items that represent tools used by families living in poverty in honor of your loved ones.

Smith-Haley Born and raised in East Texas, Haley Smith is a graduate of Baylor University and Fuller Theological Seminary with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in theology and ministry. Now fully converted to the beauty of the West Coast, Haley serves as the regional representative for HOPE International in Los Angeles, Arizona, and Nevada. Her role is to gather people around the mission of HOPE who desire to see entire communities flourish through the blessing of good work.

Each year, we celebrate clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing Thurman Award winners. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO and his wife, 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 this year’s winner: Beatrice Bamurange.

“I have a calling to serve the hopeless in Rwanda,” shares Beatrice Bamurange, “but did not know where.” Like many Christ-followers, Beatrice wasn’t sure how to best obey the Bible’s commands to serve those living in poverty. When her pastor invited her to join him on a visit to Rusheshe, a rural village an hour’s drive from Kigali, Beatrice realized there wasn’t a single school to serve the community’s children.

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Children's savings group

In honor of Universal Children’s Day on November 20, we’re excited to share about the ingenuity and hard work of these children in Rwanda.

In southern Rwanda, two savings groups meet regularly to save between 7 and 73 cents a week. Named Dutezanyimbere, meaning “Let’s hold hands and move forward together,” and Dukomezumurimo, meaning “Let’s keep the calling,” these groups have big dreams. One plans to buy a cow for each member, while the other hopes to buy a house to use for rental income. While these might sound like typical savings groups, they’re unusual in one key demographic: They’re made up entirely of children, with members ranging in age from 12 to 17.

In Rwanda, 61 percent of the population is under the age of 24, and the median age is just 18. HOPE International typically impacts this age group indirectly by empowering parents to provide for their children—but the next generation is also learning the value of saving money. While only 79 of the 8,800 savings groups in Rwanda are made up of children, this small but impressive number is faithfully saving small sums for the future and learning more about God’s Word in community.

Oscar, the 17-year-old who serves as secretary of Dutezanyimbere, immediately saw the benefit of forming a savings group: “I had different needs as a child,” he shares. One of these needs is education. 16-year-old Vestine uses her savings to buy school supplies. Cecilia, another 16-year-old member, says, “I want to study hard and then get a loan from the group to pay for school fees in a good school.” She dreams of using that education to become a doctor.

Children's savings group

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Sylvie Somerville, program advisor for HOPE’s Malawi savings and credit association program, recently wrote a reflection on her experience in Malawi for the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics blog. Reposted here with permission.

Children in Malawi

“Give me money! Give me money!”

I was on my first mountain bike ride through Malawi, high above the capital city of Lilongwe, traversing dry, dusty hills and a winter landscape dotted with villages.

I’ve been distressed by the absolute poverty of these villages many times, but this repeated cry from these children hit me particularly hard. They don’t speak English in these villages, so this is likely one of the only English phrases the kids know.

Cute, bright-eyed children. I wanted to find this moment endearing, being chased through Malawian villages by swarms of little children. This should have been a classic Instagram opportunity.

But it broke my heart.
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I need to admit something: Sometimes I intentionally look away from photos of children living in poverty. Not the really sad ones – I mean photos of adorable kids with big eyes and bright smiles. And it’s not that I don’t like kids. I love them, actually. I’m that crazy lady who inevitably asks to hold someone’s baby, whether I’m in my parents’ church or a church in a Congolese village, and I’ve been that way since I was about four years old myself (Did you just get a mental image of toddler me carrying a baby half my size?).

Guilt is one reason I look away. If you’ve had the privilege of participating in some kind of mission trip, you probably know the simple joy of playing with cheerful kids who seem to come running from every direction. Across language barriers, we laugh and take pictures and give piggy back rides. We hold hands and give hugs and swear to ourselves that we’ll never forget their names. But honestly…I’ve forgotten most of their names. Distance and time have eroded those details in my brain, and I feel a twinge of guilt when I look at cute photos.

Pessimism is another reason. Despite all the wonderful things that are happening as God’s Church moves in the world, I know that at least some of these kids will still be living in the same slums years later, living out the same cycle of hopelessness their parents walked.

And finally, I look away out of fear that those cute kids will make me lose focus. Continue Reading…