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Jun 12 2024

HOPE Intl

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Leaving Venezuela 

In 2019, Mery realized the time had finally come: She and her son had to leave their home in Venezuela. The political and economic crisis in her country had become so severe that even finding food was difficult.  

“Sometimes I would stand in line [at the store] for three [or] four hours, and when I arrived the products had already run out—like rice, sugar, flour,” Mery says. She and her son, Daniel, had lived alone for some time. The job shortage had already forced her husband and brothers to move to Peru years ago, and they sent any money they could back to Mery. But as inflation soared in Venezuela, Mery could no longer afford to buy basic necessities, including critical medication for her ongoing health condition. “The situation was quite sad,” she shares.  

Finding new footing 

Mery and Daniel packed up their belongings and set out for Comas, Peru. Beyond seeing her husband again, Mery had no idea what lay ahead.   

Her husband worked as a taxi driver, and Mery began to think of how she might supplement her family’s income. Back home, she was a certified business administrator—but as a refugee in Peru, her accreditation wasn’t recognized and her job opportunities were limited.  

Having learned hair cutting years before, Mery had the idea to open a small salon in her home. And, with a sizeable oven in her kitchen, she recognized an opportunity to bake and sell cakes in her community. 

When Mery learned about savings groups through a local church in Comas, she knew it would be a great way to not just build her family’s financial stability, but also serve her family and community.  

“I found [out] about savings groups in the church, and I learned that it was a way of evangelizing, of being able to reach people with the Word of the Lord. … And to learn savings principles according to the Word. That was my initial reason for joining. I loved it.” 

Week by week, Mery faithfully saved her earnings with her group, and before long, her diligence paid off. She used her savings to buy a stovetop, hair products for her salon, and cloth to start a new initiative—sewing polo shirts. As her family’s income has stabilized, they now know how to save for the future. 

“Yes, [our family] has changed a lot because, for example, there is a different way of looking at money. We no longer feel like slaves to money. … Money is a tool for us. And best of all, we can budget, set goals, and be able to achieve those goals. … Before, we lived life day-to-day, and there was no goal.”  

Trusting in the Lord’s provision 

Mery says God has done even more than transforming her family’s finances—He has also been at work in her heart. As she met and saved with her group, she also studied the Word of God. “I learned that God is the owner of all things, He is the creator of all things, and that everything God has created is to bless us. … I was suffering from anxiety, but with this I learned to trust in God, to learn that He is the one in control of all things. And this has helped me to strengthen my confidence.” 

Mery hopes to continue building a home for herself and her family in Peru. As she grows her businesses, she’s saving to buy a car. Through it all, she takes comfort because she knows she’s not alone. 

“The beautiful thing is that we can see God is in everything, he is the one who provides for us, the one who blesses us.”   

Through our Dreaming Beyond initiative, we’re accelerating our efforts to reach more refugees and other underserved groups with Christ-centered financial services. Sign up for our monthly prayer updates to receive the latest news from across the HOPE network and pray for those we serve.

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. 

Continue Reading…

By Bethany Hammond, Project Management Associate

I’m going to have a hard time reconciling this trip. I’ve traveled to over 30 countries in my 39 years. But this one was different.  

In early April, I traveled to an isolated, rural community in northern Zimbabwe to visit a people group called the Doma. My assignment was to listen to community members share about the challenges they face in their daily lives. While my co-workers at HOPE Zimbabwe had given me good context, I was in many ways unprepared to witness the poverty and physical danger that the Doma people endure each day.  

Bethany (right) with a savings group member named Jimmy and his family

The Doma people have lived for years on the margins of Zimbabwean society. Their area near the Zambezi River is so remote that they weren’t affected by the COVID-19 pandemic! They live off of the land, between what they can grow, forage, and sometimes hunt—though they aren’t allowed to hunt any animals from the nearby conservation area.  

They come into daily contact with wildlife that destroy their crops and cause them physical harm or, sometimes, death. I’ve never visited a community that faces such stark challenges.  Continue Reading…

Serving those at the very margins of society has always been one of our core motivations. We believe no one should have to make the impossible decisions that come with poverty—or live without the hope of Christ’s love. 

Roughly 41% of people worldwide have not heard the Gospel. At the same time, almost 700 million people—nearly 1 in 10 globally—live on less than $2.15 a day. Even more people—1.7 billion worldwide—lack access to financial services.  

At HOPE International, we believe God is calling us to move faster toward families on the margins. But over 27 years of operation, we’ve learned that reaching marginalized groups requires an intentional focus on those who have been socially, systemically, or spiritually overlooked.  

That’s why we set a goal to reach 20 new frontier communities with Christ-centered financial services by the end of 2025. (And we’re ahead of schedule!) 

Continue Reading…

“When I need help, God supports me,” reflects Moldovan farmer Evgheni Malai. 

As the Russia-Ukraine war presses into a third year, many families in the surrounding region live in fear that the violence will spread across their borders. Moldova is especially vulnerable, sharing a border with Ukraine and economic ties with Russia. Farmers like Evgheni Malai and his twin brother Denis in Moldova face a difficult choice: leave their livelihoods behind and flee, or stay and learn to adapt their business to a wartime economy.   Continue Reading…

All three of our expansion announcements—Kenya, Benin, and Dominican Republic—were among our most-read stories of 2023! 

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