Archives For community

by Luke Harbaugh, HOPE Church Representative

It’s tempting to idealize a life of isolation. The fiction of total independence, full autonomy, and little to no social accountability can sound appealing. However, Genesis 2:18 reminds us “it is not good for a man to be alone,” and we also learn from Genesis that God created us to function as social creatures, living in relationship with Him and in community with others. When we embrace a life of isolation, we are denying a key piece of our design as humans, but when we embrace community, we come alive more fully.

I got to personally witness the healing power of community when I visited Ishaan and his sister Darsha in South Asia last year.* Ishaan used to live a pretty normal life—he was funny, kind, and well-liked by those who knew him. But one day he started to get sick—and this sickness went beyond physical symptoms. His personality seemed to change.

He stopped eating, and he would barely drink. There were also violent outbursts and anger. Where he once used kind words, there was now profanity and insults. He would cry out randomly, and he would snarl and flail wildly. Completely out of character, Ishaan also stopped working. Continue Reading…

As a retailer in a local market near Jeanthon II, Haiti, Manoucheka Joseph puts in a long day. At 6 a.m., she packs a black rolling suitcase with her wares—sandals, children’s clothing, and drinks—hails a taxi, and makes her way to the bustling market. She spends the day tending to her stall and helping customers find items, and doesn’t return home until 6 p.m.

Even though Manoucheka was involved with the church in her community, her busy days away from home kept her from getting to know her neighbors. “I didn’t have any friends,” she relates.

Manoucheka also worried about not having enough income to save for unexpected emergencies that might arise—not only for herself but for her 8-year-old son. “Life was difficult,” she recalls. “We earn 100 gourdes, and we spend 100 gourdes. We just live one day at a time, with no hope for the future. So, […] if there’s an emergency situation, how are we going to face it?”

Then, this past February, Manoucheka decided to join Gwoup Epay Debora, the Deborah Savings Group that had started at her church. Continue Reading…

Around the world, HOPE-network clients are accessing financial services to grow their businesses. Join us in celebrating the ways these hardworking men and women are using their gifts, abilities, and creativity to support their families and impact their communities.
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After starting a mushroom business in Harare, Zimbabwe, Raymond Chengata dreamed of expanding his business beyond the local market. But with the cost of taking loans from the bank, he couldn’t access supplies that would allow him to continue growing his business.

In addition to this financial barrier, Raymond’s business dream was further challenged by costly setbacks when a disease killed most of the mushroom crop. Continue Reading…

What is the most significant change members experience while participating in their savings group? HOPE’s partner in Zimbabwe, Central Baptist Church, recently asked 120 members this question. Through drawings and testimonies, members shared stories of strengthened community, deepened faith, and greater provision. We’ve included just a few of their responses below.

Merina found living water

I have been blessed through the savings group. I have found living water. I have learned the reality of Psalm 1:1-6 in my life, and even in trials I will persevere knowing I have recourse and resource in Him.

Merina

Makina learned to value relationships

I have learned the value of being in relationships with others and valuing them in the relationships.

Makina

Gogo Mutandiko now views herself as a steward

Gogo (grandma) Mutandiko says her group taught her not only the value of saving money but also that everything we have comes from the Lord. She saw that the land around her house was lying idle, so she used the space to plant vegetables.

I have planted a garden at my place. I now relate with creation as a steward, and it has helped me a great deal because I save money I used to spend on veggies. And I sometimes earn from the sales of the produce.

Gogo Mutandiko

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Burundi has changed. And perhaps I’ve changed, now seeing this country and its people through different, older eyes. But perceptions aside, the people of Burundi now approach uncharted territory, collectively gathering their breath for a series of tests to the country’s democracy. And as the powers that be move and countermove in these weeks prior to national elections, I’m reminded of the proverb: When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

From the air, Burundi is an undulating patchwork of greens and browns—that much hasn’t changed. On the ground, the changes are a bit more evident—and it feels different from six years ago. The capital city, Bujumbura, is still its tropical, charming self, but with even more cars, moto-taxis, bicycles, and people navigating the clogged, albeit newly paved, roads. Signs of increased commerce are everywhere, with more air conditioned restaurants and swanky cafes—not to mention internet speeds that no longer rob users of their youth and sanity. These mostly urban developments impact only a small percent of Burundians, but something deeper is taking place throughout the country.

When I lived in Burundi from 2008 – 2009, I spoke with many families just returning from refugee camps and other camps for internally displaced peoples. They were starting their lives again after Burundi’s long civil war, and while many expressed hope for the future despite their present reality, others feared for their survival without employment or land to cultivate. Today, traveling outside of Bujumbura with my HOPE Burundi coworkers, I’ve met some of the people—church partners, pastors, field coordinators, and participating groups and individuals—that are part of HOPE’s savings and credit association program. And I’m hearing a different, more hopeful narrative.

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