I’m on my way back from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was my first time here; sitting now in the airplane, my time here seems almost like a dream. The world here seems so different and foreign.
I had the opportunity to meet many clients, talk to them, hear their stories, meet the leaders of HOPE here, and plan for the future. Images race through my head, and it seems as if I have not processed all my experiences yet.
My conversation with Furaha (translated Joy), a client from the first group meeting I attended, is still clear in my memory. Maybe because it captures so vividly how the people from this country have struggled for so long but have stayed resilient and have not given up hope. Furaha certainly has not given up hope. Raised in the eastern part of Congo, she had a family and several small stores; she was doing ok. But then came the war and the eruption of the volcano in 2002. The war took her husband, and the volcano took her livelihood and her business. She moved to the western part of the country with her three children in the hope of a more stable and secure way of living. However, her sister died, leaving Furaha to care for an additional six children.
It is striking: there was not even a hint of complaint or regret; she was just so happy that someone had introduced her to HOPE and that she was able to take out a loan and grow her business. In fact she had paid off her loan early and wished she did not have to wait until the end of the loan cycle before taking out another loan to grow her business further.
It is people like Furaha who spur me on to invest my time in the lives of many more people who are looking for a second chance.