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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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Block by block, Aleyda Torres Constanzo built her Christian school “Light of the Future” in the community of La Romana, Dominican Republic. Progress was slow and measured, but destruction was unhesitating when Hurricane George tore it down in 1998, just two years into the school’s operations. Aleyda’s students finished the school year in a classroom covered by a tarp. “Parents didn’t let that deter them from sending their children here,” she explains. On the contrary, “What they saw was the quality of education and the determination that we had.”

Government schools in the Dominican Republic are notoriously underfunded and inadequate, and even in the poorest communities, many parents will sacrifice a significant portion of their limited income to ensure a good education for their children. In La Romana, Aleyda’s school has grown rapidly, from just 40 students in 1996 to over 230 this time last year. To ease overcrowded classrooms and meet the demand for continued growth, Aleyda sought a loan from HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic, Esperanza International, to build additional classroom space. With funding through a partnership with Edify—a nonprofit dedicated to providing small-business loans to low-cost, sustainable Christian schools—Esperanza was able to fulfill her loan request for $2,600, well above their average community bank loan of $315. Continue Reading…