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by Annie Ansley, Field Communications Fellow in the Dominican Republic

I am blessed to get the chance to interview clients almost every week, and what they share never fails to surprise or inspire me. They’ve already taught me more than I could ever learn from simply being in the office. One thing I like to find out is their favorite part of being a client of Esperanza, HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic. Incredibly, they hardly ever mention the money. Check out what clients told me they value most…

“The devotional”

Many say that learning about God is by far the most important feature of Esperanza: The group Bible studies, prayer, and praise songs have brought them closer to God or taught them a specific lesson.

Hearing about Abraham and Isaac, Miguelina was inspired to sacrifice her profits for her church. Hearing the story of the widow and the oil, Angela learned the importance of working diligently at her bakery. When Carolina went to her very first bank meeting, she was going through an economic crisis in her family. Her loan officer spoke on Psalm 37, which sparked Carolina’s desire to return to God and renew her trust in Him.

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HOPE’s newest savings and credit association (SCA) groups in central Burundi are only a few months into their first cycle, and already group members are pooling their savings to start businesses and buy land together. Ryan Severns, HOPE’s microenterprise technical advisor in Burundi, gives us a video update from Karuzi Province, where our partnership with a local denomination is seeing fruit.

In this video interview, Lalaine Naquita, the Savings and Credit Association program specialist for HOPE’s partner CCT, talks about how the very poor in the Philippines are finding a way to save.

Lalaine’s team of 35 savings facilitators targets nontraditional clientele, including street dwellers, indigenous populations, fishermen, and even children. Some wouldn’t think these individuals could save—sometimes they don’t think they can—but the importance of saving is nowhere more evident than among these populations, where a savings account can provide a vital safety net. Already the program has grown to reach over 2,600 savers throughout the country. Lalaine’s goals for the program are ambitious, to say the least: “My goal is that all of the SCA partners would know God as their Savior and learn why savings is so important,” she says.

I think I was 11 the first time my family went on a mission trip. We went deep into the hills of Appalachia: to parts of this country that it’s hard to believe exist. I tagged along with a group that included professional contractors and talented electricians and plumbers, helping out where I could to work alongside a family in making significant repairs to their home. They lived in a pop-up camper with several additions made with great necessity but limited skill. Sewage flowed directly underneath their home, and the family’s living conditions were shocking to a kid who thought most people lived a lot like she did.

One of my clearest memories from this trip is of our group facilitator telling us matter-of -factly before we arrived that this family had a swimming pool. To brace us for the dissonance, he explained that the family lived on extremely limited income and hadn’t been able to give their children much, but this pool was something they had saved to afford. We might have seen it as an odd or even irresponsible use of limited funds, but psychologically, this pool—and being able to afford it—meant a lot to the family. The facilitator didn’t phrase it this way, but I think his underlying message was, “Try not to judge what you can’t understand.” Continue Reading…