Archives For education

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by Luke Harbaugh, Church and Community Liaison

In just a few weeks, American schools will prepare to return from summer vacation. As a former public school teacher, I remember the anticipation of preparing to return to school.

In my two years of teaching in American public schools, I had many frustrations. There were the regular fights with the copier, the occasional disciplinary measures that needed to be handed out, the fear I experienced before my first parent-teacher conferences, and, of course, the hobgoblin of all new teachers: keeping law and order in a classroom full of middle schoolers. But even as I fought through the trials that all new teachers endure, one thought never crossed my mind: “What if I don’t get paid this week?”

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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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Prerna

Join HOPE in celebrating the clients featured in this year’s gift catalog, men and women using the gifts God has placed in their hands—talents, dreams, and hard work—to provide for their families and give back to their communities.

In rural villages throughout western India, families like Prerna’s* eke out a living as day laborers, farming someone else’s land or doing heavy manual labor. “My husband and I both aren’t educated,” Prerna shares, “so the only job he could get was carrying sacks of grain.” With the irregular availability of work, the couple didn’t always have enough to provide for their family.

But Prerna had bigger dreams for her four daughters and one son. She wanted them to receive the education she and her husband hadn’t—giving them opportunities to create a better future.

When she heard that HOPE’s local partner was training groups of women to save their own money, Prerna was skeptical. In a culture where women traditionally stay at home, Prerna was uncertain whether saving such a small amount would really help her family. But she agreed to join and started setting aside $2 a month.

As Prerna’s group met regularly to save money, they also prayed for each other, studied God’s Word, and fellowshipped. “Whenever we do anything,” Prerna says, “we always pray first and give it to the Lord, and the rest happens according to His plan.” As they witnessed healing and other answered prayers in their own lives, they started praying for their neighbors and sharing the Gospel with them.

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by Brant Wilson, Seventh Grader and Experience HOPE Trip Participant

In January, Doug and Amy Wilson traveled with their three sons—Brant (11), Sam (9), and Nate (8)—to the Dominican Republic on an Experience HOPE Trip to learn more as a family about global poverty and ways to address it. Since returning from the D.R., Brant (pictured above, second from left) has spoken on a number of occasions about his experience, and here he shares how the trip shaped his perspective on poverty.

In January of this year, my family and I were sitting in our airplane in Indianapolis, waiting for takeoff. We were first going to fly to New York, then from there we would go to the Dominican Republic. At this point our whole family didn’t really know what to expect, or at least I know I didn’t. It was as if we were about to walk into a cave. We knew we were going in, and we knew nothing bad would happen, but we couldn’t see what was in there. We were venturing into the unknown.

wilson-family-eddWhile in the D.R. we were transported in an old school bus. We traveled on dirt roads, feeling every ditch and crevice, and headed to our first bank meeting. As we pulled into the town, I was shocked by the poverty. Every floor literally was dirt, and the roofs were made out of that wavily bent metal that you pretty much only see on roofs of small huts. As we came to a stop, many Dominican children peered into the windows of our bus, some jumping up and down in excitement. As we were exiting the bus, I remarked to my mom, “I thought this was only in the movies.”

This brings me to my second point. The people we met in the D.R. are, in many ways, very different than us. We don’t ever really see poverty like that, except in the movies. None of us have to worry about the kitchen floor turning to mud every time it rains or all the flies on our food. One of the biggest things that I noticed, though, was how similar we are. Before I went there, I guess I didn’t really view them as people; I viewed them more as numbers. But when I was with Dominicans and heard them speak and saw them play and learn at school, I realized that there really isn’t much difference between myself and them. They all have passions, hobbies, personalities, dreams, and hope. Yes, hope!

This was, I thought, the most amazing part of the trip. No one I met was in despair at their conditions. They all had hope. They all were ready for change, and they all knew what it would take. They knew they would have to work, and they knew it would be hard, but they knew they could do it. This is something we–we who think we have everything compared to them–need. No one I have ever met has had such a beautiful desire in their heart for anything. So next time you look at a chart about poverty, or hear someone talk about how much you have compared to those people, I encourage you not to think about them as numbers, but as people, people that you could probably learn a lesson from. A lesson about hope.

Visit HOPE’s website to learn more about how you and your family can participate in a similar Experience HOPE Trip.

brant-wilsonBrant Wilson is a seventh grader at The Oaks Academy, a Christ-centered school in Indianapolis, IN, that is intentionally racially and economically diverse. He loves music, writing, and most of all, his friends.

Malawi sunset

by Sylvie Somerville, Program Manager, HOPE Malawi

Last Friday, the 14-year-old daughter of my gardener, Levi, went missing. The family searched all weekend for her. No friends or relatives knew where she had gone. The police wouldn’t listen to Levi’s pleas because there is a 14-day wait policy for missing persons, and Levi was too poor to attract their interest.

Levi and I finally went together in my car to the police station six days after Maines went missing. With the sight of a seemingly wealthy white person, they were willing to help, but only after an hour of negotiating with everyone in the management chain.

We were worried that Maines had been trafficked. Her best friend testified that she was planning to “go to China and make 50,000 Kwacha a month [double the salary of a gardener].” What better ploy to attract a young and uneducated girl with no marketable skills. The police officers weren’t fazed:

Many 14-year-old girls run off to get married. Don’t worry. This is normal.

I can’t wrap my mind around this prognosis.

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