Archives For Rwanda

Each year, HOPE celebrates clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award. 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 Jean Marie, this year’s winner!

A role model in his community, Jean Marie Habyarimana owns the only restaurant in his small town in southern Rwanda, and he’s been recognized by the leaders of his district for exemplary farming practices. But in all his success, Jean Marie points first to his deepening relationship with God: “I was a Christian before joining Urwego, but being surrounded by other Christians in my everyday life, learning together how to do business, assisted me in understanding that in all we do, we must involve God.”

Enriching the soil

Though Jean Marie is passionate about farming, the soil in his community makes it hard to grow anything but coffee. To improve its fertility, Jean Marie used loans from Urwego Opportunity Bank, HOPE’s local partner, to buy two cows, two pigs, and eight chickens. By using their manure to improve the soil, Jean Marie has seen his fields produce abundant crops of beans, potatoes, cassava, bananas, and sweet potatoes.

Jean Marie

Jean Marie is also a model of sustainability. Before using manure as fertilizer, he first puts it through a biogas processor, which turns the gas into cooking fuel for his family. Even Jean Marie’s businesses flow into one another, as crops and milk from his farm supply the restaurant, while scraps from the restaurant feed his livestock.

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Jeff in Rwanda

I’ve never felt called to mission work. I’ve always thought it was important, but I’m personally passionate about design and communication, computers and software—in general, making things. But I’ve also felt guilty for not getting out “in the field.”

In the fall of 2014, I found myself on a plane to Rwanda with our videographer, Michael, to shoot a video for HOPE. The title of the video is “What’s in Your Hands?” and it’s about how God sometimes answers our prayers by multiplying what he’s already given us. So what was in our hands? A laptop and some camera gear.

My prayer for the trip was that God would use us for His glory, that our work would help others connect to what God is doing around the world through HOPE. And that’s what I believe God calls us to as His followers—to do the work we’re gifted in, to use our talents for His glory. For me that happens through design.

Here are three reasons I don’t feel guilty anymore:

1. God made me to be passionate about design.

I connect strongly to God as Creator. I love sharing stories, communicating ideas, creating beautiful experiences, and connecting people. God made me passionate about these things, and I believe He designed us all to do work we’re passionate about. Art, algorithms, business plans, products, websites, stores, homes—our very desire to work—can be a reflection of our Creator. We are all created in His image.

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Joanne

by Joanne Lu, Field Communications Fellow in Rwanda

Dear Joanne,

By the time I write this, you’ll have received a new name, Ineza, which means goodness/kindness/gentleness. You’ll have learned the winding streets of Kigali and find comfort in their familiarity. You’ll have embedded yourself in a community of support and built friendships you refuse to think about leaving.

That’s what awaits you in 2014. It’s a year of incredible growth, extraordinary challenges, and immeasurable reward. You cannot imagine it. And what you try to imagine—it will far surpass.

Right now, your heart is churning; your mind is torn. You have an opportunity, one you’ve waited and worked toward for years. You can gather and tell stories of remarkable change in the developing world. This field communications fellowship—it’s the open door you’ve been praying for.

But is it? You’re confused. You’re being asked to choose between placement in China or Rwanda. Neither of them is your first choice, and in fact, you know nothing about Rwanda besides what you learned from the movie Hotel Rwanda that you just watched. And for a whole year? You’re wondering if you’re being selfish, if it really is worth dropping everything for a year, if it’s all just a big mistake.

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apophie-00

Each year, HOPE celebrates a client who demonstrates HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award winner. 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. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting the stories of this year’s honorable mentions and overall winner.

Apophie Nyirabaziga is a mother to the motherless, a respected leader in her community, and a sharp businesswoman. Caring for five young children, three of whom she adopted when their own mother died, Apophie is proud to support her family with love and creativity in action.

A perceptive entrepreneur

In 2009, Urwego Opportunity Bank, HOPE’s partner in Rwanda, came alongside Apophie with a loan totaling just $88, which she used to strengthen her business selling cow and goat hides. A perceptive entrepreneur, Apophie realized there was greater demand for live goats, so she used subsequent loans to expand.

As her business grew, Apophie turned her attention to another industry: spare auto parts. Not only was it more profitable, it also allowed Apophie to more effectively leverage her husband’s own God-given talents as a mechanic. Through her 12 loan cycles, Apophie has modeled wise stewardship, saving half of each loan and investing the other portion back into her business.

Though her family used to live in a mud house without doors, windows, or toilets, Apophie now owns two homes, providing additional rental income. She has also used her profits to purchase two cows, a forest, six banana plantations, and a water tank for her family. Through her farm, Apophie employs eight others in the community. In addition, she serves in her local government and as a member of a cooperative committee formed to distribute water.

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by Lori Oberholtzer, Field Communications Manager

Communication Fellows

One year, one camera, and one fiery passion. That’s all it took for Mara, Drake, and Joanne to say “YES!”

At HOPE, we want to capture stories of Christ’s transformative love from the field and share those stories with you. Enter Mara, Drake, and Joanne, HOPE’s first three field communications fellows! Their mission (which they chose to accept) is to listen to, document, and share the stories of the clients we serve—so others can hear about the life-changing, transformative power of Christ-centered microenterprise development.

Before sharing the stories they’ve collected, we want to introduce our fellows. (Fellow is just a fancy word for long-term volunteer.)

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scenic Rwanda

Keeping Christ central

A weekly series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration

Country: Rwanda
Population: 8,000,000
Days of widespread bloodshed: 100
Deaths: 1,117,000
Percentage of the country self-identifying as Christians: 93.6%

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. As I reflect on these statistics, I can’t help but question: How do people who know the Gospel and regularly attend church take up machetes against their brothers and sisters in Christ?

This question has haunted me over the years, and I sought an answer from HOPE’s country director for the Rwanda SCA program, Erisa Mutabazi. In addition to his duties with HOPE, Erisa has served as an ordained pastor in the Anglican Church for almost three decades. He shared:

An important movement called the East Africa Revival began in Rwanda in 1929. It spread to Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya during the 1930s and 1940s. The preachers’ message focused on the severity of sin and the need for individuals to confess their sins publicly. The revival contributed to the significant growth of the church in East Africa in the 1940s through the 1970s.

However, what is extremely perplexing is that genocide was possible in Rwanda with such a large “Christian” population. How could true followers of Jesus do this to one another? I have concluded that the idea of being a Christian at that time did not mean living as a disciple who was called to a completely new life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

This problem of conversions without discipleship is by no means unique to Rwanda. The country has come a long way in the past 20 years, and the local church has witnessed incredible stories of reconciliation through programs like HOPE’s savings and credit associations. But the fact that people often “convert” to Christianity without surrendering their lives to Christ compels HOPE to pursue nothing short of full discipleship in our spiritual integration efforts.

So what did Jesus say about what disciples should be and do?
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