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Breaking generational poverty: a single mother’s testimony

How a savings group helped Sandrine find community, deeper faith, and a better future 

Sandrine Niwemuraza and her tailoring business

Sandrine working in her tailoring shop

Sandrine Niwemuraza had every reason to stay away from church. “[My] mother used to encourage me to go to church, but I did not want to because I didn’t feel welcomed.” 

While still in high school in rural Rwanda, Sandrine became pregnant, and she and her mother—also a single parent—felt despair about their situation. They now faced the reality of even deeper generational poverty. Rejected by their extended family, church, and neighbors, they felt alone. 

Facing opposition 

“I feared going to church. I wanted to go, but I had so much shame because I gave birth without a husband at a young age. People were judging me. I lost confidence and all hope,” Sandrine shares. “Because of the pregnancy, I dropped out of school.” 

Her mother was their sole provider, working as a farm laborer to bring home about 85 cents (U.S.) each day she was hired. But it wasn’t every day. Without a steady income, they struggled to make ends meet. Their home was in disrepair, and they couldn’t even afford a secure door. 

When a friend from church told her about a savings group for single mothers starting in the church, Sandrine wanted to join. But there was still one barrier: How would she have anything to save?  

“I didn’t have a job. So, I was wondering where I would get the money from, but my mother supported the idea. She said she would help me, but I doubted that because she barely had any money to support me and my daughter. But I still wanted to be with the members so I joined with so many questions.” 

Finding restored dignity in Christ and community  

Sandrine soon discovered that the savings group offered her more than just an opportunity to secure a better financial future for herself and her daughter. Sandrine shares,

“The saving group is the one that helped me know God better and have confidence that I am also His child and mercy is extended to me.”

“Every meeting when we met, we would pray, worship, and someone would share the Word. I never used to read the Bible but whenever a verse that touched me was shared in the meeting, I would write it in my palms so that I [could] reread it at home. That helped me study, understand, and read the Bible.” 

The church facilitator and her fellow savings group members encouraged her to grow spiritually, and Sandrine found solace in knowing God on a deeper level. 

“I was relieved to finally have people to relate to,” Sandrine shares. When she decided to go back to high school, her group rallied around her and offered to watch her daughter when Sandrine was in class.  

With their savings group being facilitated through the church, Sandrine and the other single mothers have experienced a new sense of belonging among other believers. They now serve their congregation by helping maintain the building. “The church is very supportive,” says Sandrine. “I will keep serving even more!” 

The blessing of daily provision 

Through the savings group, Sandrine has not only gained community and spiritual transformation, but she also began saving money for the first time in her life—even when she only had a little to save. Eventually, she took out a $21 (U.S.) loan from the group to start a small business. “I have a tailoring business, and I save each meeting in the savings group—unlike before when I used to meet in the group without savings.” 

With another group loan and her savings, Sandrine renovated her family’s home, including a new kitchen and a proper door to keep them safe. Her savings group helped make bricks, and even a neighbor who had once ridiculed her and her mother assisted by asking the local government for roofing materials. 

Sandrine in front of her new house; equipped out of poverty

Sandrine’s and her mother’s new home

Changing mindsets 

To Sandrine’s mother, the blessings they are receiving now are nothing short of a miracle:  

“They used to call us names, but the other day, someone said that she didn’t know that two single mothers can do something useful for themselves. I know they said that because we now have a house. Sandrine went back to school and now owns a business—all because of faith in God.” 

While some now see Sandrine and her mother in a more positive light, others still continue to dehumanize them with insults and judgment. Even so, Sandrine and the single mothers in her savings group confidently serve their community, helping anyone who needs a hand in the fields or new bricks for a house project. 

A dream for the future 

Sandrine has dreams of going to university to become a teacher in her community. She wants to send her own daughter to school and continue uplifting single mothers like her who need community, the chance to provide for their children, and the hope found in Christ’s love for them.  

This Mother’s Day, we thank God for mothers like Sandrine and how the Lord has restored hope and community in her life. We look forward to celebrating many more mothers—lives transformed because of your investment in their skills and potential. 

For other examples of parents (and grandparents) securing brighter futures for the next generation, read the stories of three female entrepreneurs who are investing in their communities. 




As Christ’s followers responding to His great love, HOPE International seeks physical, social, spiritual, and personal restoration in places of brokenness. Through Christ-centered economic development, we empower men and women to strengthen their families, build their businesses, and unleash their dreams.

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