Archives For farming


Each year, HOPE celebrates clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award. 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. We’re excited to share the story of Anasitaziya, this year’s honorable mention from Africa!

The challenges nearly-80-year-old Anasitaziya Kankwanzi has overcome would be enough for several lifetimes. In her 30s, Anasitaziya’s eyesight began to falter. Doctors provided little help, but she retained enough vision to function independently. Two decades later, when she was nearly 60 years old, her husband was killed in the Rwandan genocide, leaving Anasitaziya as one of nearly 50,000 widows in the nation. Anasitaziya survived the genocide hidden in a dark room. When she finally stepped out into the light, her vision was gone. “I had gone completely blind,” she recounts.

Pressing on

Anasitaziya’s life has been marked by determination and hope. Though widowed and blind, she resumed her farming career by hiring workers to dig and plant for her. Despite her hard work, there were some who took advantage of Anasitaziya’s vulnerability, pilfering her crops to feed their livestock or stealing from her home.

Even in hardship, Anasitaziya never succumbed to despair or stopped working to improve her life. Instead, she takes her needs to the great Provider. “I never lose hope. I am comforted by the Word of God. I know God is with me. … My God is really faithful. He does not let me suffer.”

Never alone

When a church leader invited Anasitaziya to join a savings group in 2011, she liked the idea. Though her farm provided enough to pay her workers and meet her most basic needs, Anasitaziya saw many ways in which her life could improve as a savings group member. Her home was gradually crumbling, with stones falling from her walls every day, but it would take a lump sum—which she had never had—to reinforce the structure. “I know I can do anything through Christ, so I joined others and we started saving,” Anasitaziya remembers.

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“I’m proud to be a farmer,” says Moise, walking between rows of vibrant green cabbages on his farm outside Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Where some might only see manual labor, Moise has learned that with patience—and attentive cultivation along the way—an abundant harvest is not only possible, it’s profitable. Even when his farm was destroyed during Congo’s civil war, he held fast to his farming vision. Fourteen years later, as he smiles and holds up the fruits of his labor, it’s evident the opportunity to continue farming is more than just a property regained—it’s a dream come true.

Moise has farmed since the 1970s. After completing his secondary school education, Moise took a rare opportunity for most Congolese and studied agronomy in neighboring Cameroon. Coming from a family with little means to pay for his education, he worked hard to support himself during this time. Later, after returning to Congo, he started a farming cooperative. It proved difficult, with many farmers dropping out. In 2000, the ongoing civil war forced Moise to abandon his farm and home. Continue Reading…

As we approach the town of Kamenka (KAH-men-kuh) on a busy two-lane road, we pass dozens of trucks going the other way carrying fruits and vegetables. Some of these trucks are transporting produce to local and regional markets in surrounding cities like Zaporozhye, but there are larger refrigerated trucks that are traveling as far away as Kyiv and Moscow.

I’m traveling with Andre Barkov, the managing director of HOPE’s microfinance institution in Ukraine, and Natasha Kurilenko, the director of marketing for HOPE Ukraine. We are traveling to Kamenka to visit our local branch, witness the greenhouse economy that has developed, and understand the ways that HOPE Ukraine’s loans are providing a catalyst for economic development in the region.    Continue Reading…

January 13, 2012, 1:17 EST – Byumba, Rwanda

Our day started bright and early this morning. We met Jeffrey Lee, the CEO of Urwego Opportunity Bank, for breakfast. Urwego is one of the largest MFIs in the HOPE network, and under Jeffrey’s leadership it has managed to grow very quickly while keeping credit risk at reasonable levels. There are many best practices at Urwego that can be applied elsewhere in our network. Jeffrey and the entire Urwego staff live out their Christian faith every day while serving roughly 100,000 clients across Rwanda.

Following breakfast we went to Urwego’s offices for morning devotions. There was wonderful music and singing from the Urwego staff. Peter Greer, the president of HOPE International, was the guest speaker for the day’s devotions. Peter lived in Rwanda for three years, and is the only muzungu (affectionate term for “white guy”) I’ve come across in Rwanda who is fluent in Kinyarwanda, the local language. Peter and I are traveling together in Rwanda and will fly to the Republic of Congo tomorrow morning. Continue Reading…