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by Elizabeth Dewes, Field Journalism Fellow (based in Zambia)

This summer, Zimbabweans witnessed their first major transition of political power since their 1980 independence from British and white minority rule. With the recent changes, economic uncertainty came to a head in September when tax increases on fuel triggered a series of exorbitant price hikes, on everything from gas to imported goods. I witnessed this unfolding crisis on my recent trip to Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, in November. Continue Reading…

Savings Group, Haiti

“Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
and showers his righteousness on you.”
Hosea 10:12

The start of a new year offers a wonderful opportunity to commit to seeking the Lord even more intentionally. As 2019 begins, we invite you to join us in a HOPE-themed devotional. Created with our friends at YouVersion, the plans are available online or via the YouVersion app.

Here are three options we suggest, based on what God might be inviting you to this year:

If you have a desire for personal growth, we recommend … Continue Reading…

Header image: slum neighborhood of Asunción, Paraguay

In the 1990s, the World Bank interviewed more than 60,000 individuals living in low-income countries, asking one primary question: What is poverty?

When asked this question, Western audiences often respond with what those in poverty lack: food, money, clean water, etc. But the families interviewed by the World Bank described poverty in much more multidimensional terms, naming the lack of options, strained relationships, low self-esteem, and feelings of helplessness.

A HOPE staff member once asked a savings group in Rwanda the same question—how do you define poverty? Most of their descriptions framed their experience of poverty as emotional and relational: Continue Reading…

When Kafelini Daudi’s husband told her to take their children and go ahead of him to Ntcheu, a small village in rural Malawi, she assumed that he would meet them there. But he never did. Unable to locate him, Kafelini had no choice but to move forward. She needed to find a way to provide for her five children, even if they only ate one meal a day. She remembers, “I had no money.” Continue Reading…

In 2009, a group of women in Kirehe, Rwanda, began meeting together. All of them had lost their husbands, but the reason behind their husbands’ absence couldn’t have been more vastly different. Some had lost their husbands as victims of the Rwandan genocide 15 years earlier; others had husbands serving prison sentences as perpetrators of the genocide’s violence. At a time when great fear and hatred existed between ethnic groups, the women’s act of gathering together across ethnic lines was revolutionary.

When their church introduced the savings group program through HOPE International in 2011, the women decided to start saving together, naming their group Abavandimwe, an affectionate Kinyarwandan term for “siblings.” 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…