Archives For savings groups

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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…

A savings group in Malawi

At HOPE International, we’re passionate about training. Because many clients have had limited access to formal education, HOPE’s network offers biblically based training, mentoring, and coaching to help clients grow spiritually and professionally.

In collaboration with Chalmers Center, HOPE recently developed RESTORE: Savings, a curriculum to guide church facilitators as they train and support savings groups. The curriculum includes 33 lessons on everything from how to organize group meetings to the importance of prayer.

Below, we’ve included Lesson 17 from the curriculum. Join HOPE network clients in learning about God’s heart for restoring relationships!


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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.

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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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Pastor Zenon

Believing that Christians are called not only to proclaim, but also to demonstrate the Gospel, Pastor Zenon Ndayegamiye felt burdened to implement holistic development both in his church and community in Burundi.

“We cannot separate the spiritual and physical or social development. It is like the two wings of a bird, if you cut off one wing, you cannot fly,” he explains.

Serving as a pastor in the Foursquare Church in Burundi, Zenon began to teach holistic development in 2010 among local church congregations. “In my church, I was struggling because I wanted to see the context of poverty changed,” remembers Zenon. After being introduced to the HOPE Burundi savings and credit association (SCA) program, he immediately felt that this program could provide an answer. Zenon shares, “Many organizations brought money to help Burundians, but until now, we don’t see the impact. For me, I can truly say HOPE Burundi is very different from other organizations. Some have said it’s like, instead of giving fish to someone, you have to teach him to fish.Continue Reading…

Digna

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 Digna, this year’s honorable mention from Asia!

It took three visits from a savings facilitator before Digna Nibay was convinced to join a savings group through the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), HOPE’s partner in the Philippines. She says she had never before saved a single centavo, and it took some persuading to convince the mother of six that she could. Digna and her husband had a combined income of just over $13 a day, which barely covered food, water, electricity, transportation to work, and school expenses for the couple’s children. When income fluctuations disrupted the family’s day-to-day life, Digna was forced to borrow small sums from neighbors or relatives to cover everyday expenses. These experiences showed her the benefit of personal savings: Digna just needed to create some margin to save.

When Digna agreed to join the group, she was committed, and she became not only a member but the group’s president. Saving was a challenge, and a number of the group’s initial members dropped out during the first round—but those who persisted remarkably saved over $150 each by the end of the first year. As her community saw the outcome, Digna’s group began to gain momentum, tripling in size by its second year. Now in its fourth year-long cycle, each group member saves $5.60 a week.

Leaps of faith

For most of her adult life, Digna worked in the laundry industry, a bustling business in the tourist community of Tagaytay, where she lives. After just a year in the savings group, Digna took a leap of faith and launched her own laundry business. A year later, she led her group into a joint business venture—beginning a laundry business that serves a large retreat center nearby. The business has created 44 jobs for washers, ironers, and delivery workers. Though Digna could have hired employees and kept more profits for herself, she instead invited group members to be co-owners, evidencing her generous spirit.  “When blessings come my way, I want to share them,” she says.

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