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After working with HOPE’s team for nearly four years, I can’t help but notice a few consistent themes with our staff, and I thought you might find them interesting!

1. We all have a HOPE love story. Just like people share stories of how they met their spouses, most of us can pinpoint the moment we first heard about HOPE and mildly gush over the details of coming on staff. Whether we used to be bankers, pastors, educators, or missionaries, HOPE is an important part of our story.

2. We love competition. Whether it’s a Christmas decoration contest, a simple team-building exercise, or building the largest church-based savings program, it’s clear HOPE staff love to compete. We’re internally driven to do our best and excel.

3. We pray and grow closer to Christ together. Throughout the day and especially at 3 p.m. every day, our staff meets to read the Word and pray. We lift up our clients, donors, and staff, and we ask God to guide us and move in our hearts. Through so many interactions with people who know and love the Lord deeply, I have personally grown closer to Christ. Continue Reading…

I thought you might like to have a look at a few more of the first clients in their homes and businesses. Enjoy!

HOPE Client in Brazzaville
Continue Reading…

pagne exampleMost of the women in Brazzaville wear beautiful dresses or skirts made of pagne, a brightly colored fabric that comes in bold, interesting patterns. Women buy the relatively inexpensive fabric in the pagne sections of the market and then take their selections to one of hundreds of local tailors. These tailors can create customized and detailed dresses, shirts, and suits at impressive speeds. Mikhal (HOPE Congo’s Finance Manager and my amazing hostess!) helped me buy fabric and commission a few skirts from a tailor named Bienvenu. Continue Reading…

Pasteur JulienI had the opportunity to interview Pasteur Julien from Centre Chrétienne Néhémie (Nehemiah Christian Center Church) while a reimbursement meeting was taking place in his church.

Thus far, what has been your interaction with HOPE Congo?
“HOPE Congo invited me to speak at the first disbursal meeting on behalf of all the churches in Brazzaville. I came here to pray with the clients and to help HOPE Congo launch their affairs. … I told clients, ‘You can be motivated, earn more money, and make great plans, but without God being a part of your plans, without following His will, it will all be useless in the end.’” Continue Reading…

LovelineMeet Loveline, HOPE Congo’s first loan officer supervisor.  Loveline played a valuable role in assembling and training the first 50 clients, and she is also managing and training the current staff of two loan officers.  She provides an important layer of internal controls and efficiency for HOPE Congo’s work.  Honestly, when I think about Loveline, the first phrase that comes to mind is “rock star.”

If you go into the markets, the churches, les quartiers (neighborhoods), she knows and is known by everyone.  She’s the kind of confident, striking woman that you automatically respect and listen to, but she’s also gentle, smiles often, and has a good sense of humor. Continue Reading…

French influenceWhen European powers sat down to divide Central Africa amongst themselves in the nineteenth century, today’s Republic of Congo became a colony of France.  Although Congo gained independence in 1960 and you might not be able to tell at first glance, ties between the two countries are still strong.  For better or worse, France has left an indelible impression on Congo’s culture, government, and economy.  The official language of business and academia is French (the Congolese are way ahead of Americans with fluency in multiple languages), and many Western expats and major business owners are French.  One of the happier results: you don’t have to look too far to get a good croissant, or as I was happy to find, a mil feuille (I’ve also heard it called a napoleon).