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, 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 […]Continue Reading...
Archives For Rwanda
While living in Uganda as refugees following the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Mariya, her husband, and their six children made a living by raising cattle. Years later, they decided to return to their home country of Rwanda and use the money they had saved to build a house and start a small farm. But their homecoming would not be an easy one.
“When we got here, we faced a lot of problems,” remembers Mariya. Her oldest son lost his leg in an accident while driving a motorcycle taxi, and her eldest daughter suffered from intestinal infections. Struggling to profit from their small farm, the family found that these additional medical expenses exacerbated their already vulnerable situation, draining them not just financially, but also physically and spiritually. Continue Reading…
by Kevin Tordoff, Vice President of Marketing
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” On the surface, this common playground adage makes sense, but any victim of name-calling or bullying knows how words can cause pain long after they’re spoken. No one chooses to have a negative label attached to them, a moniker that identifies them as an outcast.
I was reminded of the power of names spoken over us on a recent trip to Gihindamuyaga, Rwanda, a community several hours south of the capital city of Kigali. Traversing the country provided unending views of the undulating hills Rwanda is known for, showcasing the prudent use of land for agricultural purposes. I had long heard from colleagues how much of a jewel this country is, and my visit did not disappoint. The hard-fought progress Rwanda has made since the horrific genocide of the mid-1990s is visible in many ways.
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.
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 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.