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by Lydia Koehn, Field Communications Fellow

Last week, I traveled to the Philippine island of Mindoro to join a training of savings group facilitators with the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), HOPE International’s local partner in the Philippines.

download (7)More than half of the 46 trainees were pastors from the Mangyan Tribal Churches Association, a group of indigenous churches using savings groups to address both the material and spiritual needs of their communities. Over the course of three days, I was delighted and encouraged by the expertise and faith of Ate Goldie and Ate Luvin, Ate meaning sister in Filipino, who are the leaders of CCT’s savings and credit association program. As I embraced the warmth of the Filipino culture, I discovered a few steps to inspiring the facilitators of future savings groups for the transformation of their communities.

The following are what I found to be the keys to a successful training:

1. Flexibility

When we arrived for the first day of training at 8 a.m., there was no one to be found at the open-air concrete building of the Mangyan Tribal Churches Association. We soon learned that the representatives of the Mangyan churches from the surrounding areas had understood the first day as an optional arrival and the official start to be the next day. So we transitioned into plans for beginning the next day, using the extra time to get to know the pastors from the nearby neighborhoods. Continue Reading…


by Joanne Lu, Field Communications Fellow in Rwanda

Dear Joanne,

By the time I write this, you’ll have received a new name, Ineza, which means goodness/kindness/gentleness. You’ll have learned the winding streets of Kigali and find comfort in their familiarity. You’ll have embedded yourself in a community of support and built friendships you refuse to think about leaving.

That’s what awaits you in 2014. It’s a year of incredible growth, extraordinary challenges, and immeasurable reward. You cannot imagine it. And what you try to imagine—it will far surpass.

Right now, your heart is churning; your mind is torn. You have an opportunity, one you’ve waited and worked toward for years. You can gather and tell stories of remarkable change in the developing world. This field communications fellowship—it’s the open door you’ve been praying for.

But is it? You’re confused. You’re being asked to choose between placement in Asia or Rwanda. Neither of them is your first choice, and in fact, you know nothing about Rwanda besides what you learned from the movie Hotel Rwanda that you just watched. And for a whole year? You’re wondering if you’re being selfish, if it really is worth dropping everything for a year, if it’s all just a big mistake.

Continue Reading…