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.
Caring for the least of these
Through her relationship with Urwego, Apophie received biblical and business training, which she says has brought healing to her home. Apophie’s husband was a practicing Muslim, creating conflict in their marriage, but as Apophie learned to forgive, he noticed the change in her life. “Through the transformation he saw in me,” Apophie testifies, “he was willing to convert from Islam to Christianity and … peace has prevailed in our home ever since.”
As Apophie draws upon Christ, the well that never runs dry, she is better able to pour out generosity on those around her. Building a house for her mother and caring for the underserved, her life testifies to holistic transformation. An ardent believer in the power of prayer, she loves her work and her God, reminding others that it is through Him alone that she has achieved any material success.
Apophie is not finished yet. She dreams of someday traveling to Dubai, where higher-quality auto parts can be purchased in greater quantity and at a lower cost. A servant leader, Apophie remains humble in the face of success, pointing back to her Savior as the true source of every good thing: “The respect and honor I have today,” she says, “I owe it all to God and the program.”