We’re hiring! Learn more about becoming our next US Executive Director now.

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Big Changes Coming at Hope for Life!

Big Changes Coming at Hope for Life!

Second Transitional Center to Open This Fall!

We are thrilled to announce that the construction of the second Transitional Center is complete!

The second Transitional Center will be able to serve up to 24 youth at a time, which doubles the number of young people who can escape homelessness and heal! The facility will open this fall to new children who are seeking solutions to be able to escape homelessness long-term. This project has been a long process – over four years in the making! – and we rejoice together in its completion. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic has worsened the number of vulnerable children in Rwanda, and we are truly excited to make a larger impact in the community through this facility.

The new Center also includes a brand new kitchen and dining area for staff to prepare healthy meals and laundry facilities, and a large outdoor dining area so that all the children in the Transitional Program can eat together at the same time.

We are especially grateful for the partnership of The Hovde Foundation and Mite for funding the construction and furnishing of this project. Watch the video about the project.

While we celebrate the good news of the completion of the second Center, we still have more progress to make on the completion of the new Administrative Facility and grounds. We look forward to letting you know when those projects have also been completed.

Want to come alongside Hope for Life as we expand impact? Please consider becoming a Changemaker by starting a recurring monthly donation of any amount. Changemakers help fund the year round operations of programs which is essentially important as we expand the number of children and families served in Rwanda.

A Bittersweet Transition

It is with both excitement and sadness that the Board of Directors shares that HFL’s co-founder and US Executive Director, Megan Chao, will be departing Hope for Life at the end of September for a new role at one of HFL’s partners (stay tuned for more details soon!). This is a poignant change for HFL, as Megan has been a committed leader of the organization since its founding 14 years ago. We honor and appreciate the ways Megan has grown HFL into a healthy and sustainable organization, and we are excited to have her remain as a partner and advocate of HFL. We will miss her steadfastness, her cross-cultural insight, and her drive to execute our strategy at an exceptional standard for the sake of greater impact for the youth we serve. We invite you to join us in sharing your thanks by sending Megan a note at megan@hopeforlife.us by September 30th.

The Board has formed a hiring committee to begin the search for our next US Executive Director who will lead the organization in the next season. If you have any referrals to suggest for this role, we invite you to contact us at board@hopeforlife.us or apply by clicking the link below.

Many of you have likely become supporters of HFL because of Megan’s leadership and invitation to the work of empowering youth to escape homelessness and thrive. We deeply thank you for your support, and we are committed to hiring a passionate and strong US Executive Director to lead Hope for Life going forward. We look forward to sharing an update with you soon on our hiring process.

Sincerely,

team-photo-emily

Emily Kuhn

US Board Chair

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Introducing Hope For Life Rwanda’s New Executive Director

Introducing Hope For Life Rwanda’s

New Executive Director

In 2020, we announced leadership changes in Rwanda, and an extended period of transition followed. We are grateful for the dedication of our Rwandan staff and Board who have led our programs through this time of change. Now, we are thrilled to introduce our new Executive Director in Rwanda, Daniel Ledama.

Daniel is passionate about seeing families live an abundant life and about championing change in their own journey of transformation. He brings a wealth of knowledge and skills in the nonprofit sector, including experience in organizational capacity building, strategy development, and working with vulnerable families and youth. Before joining Hope For Life Rwanda, Daniel led development work for World Vision Rwanda and worked in mentorship and leadership training with New Creation Ministries Rwanda and Groupe Biblique Universitaire du Rwanda.

Daniel holds a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Psychology from the University of Rwanda and is currently completing a postgraduate degree in Psychology from the University of South Wales.

Welcome to the HFL community, Daniel!

Annual Gala: A Night Of Hope

Join us for our annual Gala, A Night of Hope, on May 20th in downtown Seattle! Our new Executive Director in Rwanda, Daniel Ledama, will be our keynote speaker. We hope to see you in person for this evening of fun, celebration, and creating expanded impact in Rwanda.

Tickets are on sale now for $100, but prices increase on April 21. Don’t wait to claim your seat and join us in extending hope to more individuals. Buy your tickets or make a donation below.

Saying ‘Yes’ to Marc*

After two long years, Hope for Life (HFL) is finally able to grow again, accepting new residents like Marc*. HFL first met Marc when his brother became a resident at the Center and staff began working with his family to strengthen and heal their relationship. Due to challenges at home, including Marc experiencing homelessness and dropping out of school, both his family and our team thought he would benefit from the same programs at Hope for Life that his brother was already participating in.

Marc happily moved into the Center recently, and has since returned to school, where he enjoys mathematics and playing games with his fellow classmates.

His health has improved, and he’s made many new friends. One of those friends, Shawn*, inspired him to stretch his imagination and creativity to build a traditional mud house. Experiences like these help residents like Marc and his brother heal from their trauma and imagine a new future for themselves and their families. He is especially glad to be with his brother again.

Thank you for empowering children like Marc and his family to holistically heal and restore hope for their futures.

*Names have been changed for confidentiality

Setting Goals For Hope

HFL is entering a new season of hope, actively accepting new residents for the first time in two years after a temporary hold was put in place to ensure program participants who were already enrolled continued to experience quality care. Unfortunately, the pandemic has increased the number of vulnerable children and families in Rwanda and we are eager to make a more powerful impact.

Our strategic priorities this year include:

Thank you for your continued partnership and generosity as we join together to combat child homelessness and family separation.

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Youth Empowerment

Youth Empowerment

At Hope for Life, the ultimate goal is for youth to heal from the trauma of homelessness and lead empowered lives.
For many, this means returning home to the love of family, which may include parents, step-parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or a foster family. Each family undergoes months of preparation as well as undergoing their own trauma-healing before they are ready to receive a youth back into their home with continued support from HFL.
For some HFL youth, however, returning to a family is not possible due to failed family tracing or irreparable relationships. For these young men, their journey involves transitioning into independent living with other youth who are similar in age and lived experiences. These young men are part of a special subgroup of HFL’s Reintegration Program called Youth Empowerment. Over the past year, the services provided for these youth have been enhanced and strengthened to better meet their unique needs. Youth Empowerment is led by Innocent, HFL’s Youth Economic Empowerment Officer. The group meets regularly for services like mentorship, financial literacy training, short and long-term goal setting, and accountability. Innocent also helps connect them to possible internships and career opportunities.

Frances

One such youth who currently participates in Youth Empowerment is 21-year-old, Frances*. During the COVID school closures, he spent a lot of time thinking about his future, and decided that he wanted to pursue vocational training instead of continuing with traditional school. Interested in machines, he approached a friend who works with cars. His friend agreed to mentor him, and he has now been working under him for nearly a year! Through conversation with Innocent and his mentor, it was decided that he has reached a skill level where he could begin working more independently. In February, HFL helped Frances purchase his own auto mechanic materials and tools so that he could start working for himself.
Starting a new business during the pandemic would be a challenge for anyone. And yet, Frances has approached it with innovation and determination. In addition to performing car repairs, Frances also started fixing and selling spare parts to supplement his income while he is building his client base. Now that he has a steady source of income, Frances and Innocent also worked together to create a savings plan, with an initial goal of saving $10/month.
We have no doubt that Frances’s ingenuity, honesty, and work ethic will propel him to a flourishing future. Plus, he has the support of the greater Hope for Life community behind him every step of the way. Thank you for empowering Frances and those like him to to heal and grow on the path toward independence.
*Note: All names have been changed for youth confidentiality purposes.

Save the Date for September 16th

While the world is beginning to open back up, out of an abundance of caution, the U.S. team has decided to keep the annual Gala in a virtual format again.
Starting Tuesday, September 14, join us for a week of generosity, hope, and inspiration as we share lots of EXCITING new updates with you! This year, we’ll also host a live streamed event and auction on Thursday, September 16 at 6:00 p.m. PST! In addition to several new videos and stories, you’ll also have the option to buy an event kit, and shop our virtual Rwandan market!
For more information, check out hopeforlife.us/aweekofhope2021

2021 Impact

So far this year, your partnership has helped achieve the following:

111

Youth served

1

Youth reintegrated

100%

of families who have been reintegrated in the last three years are still together

5

caretakers received support in securing employment

30

youth participated in a two-day leadership training

Dear Partner,

Over the last year, Hope for Life has undergone a period of assessment and refinement that resulted in several major shifts in our programs, leadership, and organizational culture. We’ve strengthened our trauma-based care, focused heavily on family reintegration, and made changes to our leadership to ensure we have the right team in place to bring us into our second decade of operations. We have hired several new staff members and look forward to announcing a new Executive Director in Rwanda in the next few months.

While necessary and good, transitions can also be challenging. As an organization, we don’t always get it right, especially while operating in the complex and multi-layered context of cross-cultural community development. Transparency is one of our five core values and your trust remains one of our top priorities. Thus, we would like to communicate an issue that has arisen in Rwanda with a few former employees. We will not be naming these individuals in order to protect their privacy.

Over the last year and a half, we made decisions to let several employees go from the organization in Rwanda due to performance concerns. A few of these employees are alleging to have been unfairly dismissed. Despite our Boards of Directors trying to resolve the situation amicably, the situation has proceeded to a court of law in Rwanda. While labor disputes are not uncommon in the country, we seek to be transparent with you and wanted you to hear the news from us directly.

While we are limited ethically and legally regarding what information we can share about specific employees, you are welcome to contact us with questions at board@hopeforlife.us. Your trust and partnership are deeply important to us.

Respectfully,
The Rwanda and US Board of Directors
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WHERE ARE THEY NOW

Where Are They Now

Since 2009, the generous partnership of givers around the world has resulted in over 1,120 individuals experiencing healing from homelessness and poverty. Over 130 children have exited homelessness, 41 families have been reunited, and 12 youth have gained financial independence. Your support provides holistic, family-centered, and trauma-informed care for those who have been separated by homelessness.
Over the past 12 years, we have introduced you to many children, youth, and families who have benefited from your love and financial support. In this series, we highlight eight individuals by sharing where they are now thanks to your partnership.
*Note: All names have been changed for youth confidentiality purposes.
Want to come alongside even more youth and families on their healing journey? Consider sustaining our programs by becoming a Changemaker and starting a monthly gift today!
JAMES | UNIVERSITY STUDENT | 23-YEARS-OLD
James is proud to be HFL’s first youth to attend university! He came to HFL in 2013, reintegrated with his grandmother in 2017, and was able to graduate high school in 2019 with an emphasis in mathematics, chemistry, and biology. After graduation, he worked at a local athletic club while he contemplated university.

In the summer of 2020, HFL helped him with the national university application, and we were so excited when he was offered a scholarship from the government! He was accepted at the University of Rwanda where he will study agriculture.

James has goals of having a “good life by working for it, living in harmony with people, helping other people, and having a beautiful family in a few years.”

He wishes to thank HFL partners for the support, “I was able to achieve a good life, my education is all due to the incredible support I was given by good people. This support gave my future a direction. My real life started at the time I joined Hope for Life.”
GEORGE | ELECTRONICS REPAIRMAN | 26-YEARS-OLD
“Nowadays I am happy that I can rent my own house, I can feed myself, I finished high school…all of these are great accomplishments for me.” George was HFL’s first graduate to achieve financial independence. While in school, he studied electronics and telecommunications. The transition after graduating school was challenging for George at first, but he learned how to use his skills and make an income.

Today, George is employed by an electrical company. He currently lives on his own in Kigali where he is able to provide for himself and has even started to create a savings fund.

“I have many friends in my community and at church where I attend. For fun, my favorite thing to do is sing and play guitar. When I sing or play, I feel so much peace. I would like to get married. I think about it often and I even pray for it.”

When asked about the future, George shares, “I hope someday to be self-employed with the ability to have a big company and hire different people.”
DANIEL | HOPE FOR LIFE RESIDENTIAL COUNSELOR | 22-YEARS-OLD
“I’m very proud that I’ve been able to work at Hope for Life’s transitional rehabilitative center with the boys. It has allowed me to support my family, which is the greatest accomplishment that I have had in life.”

Daniel came to HFL through the community sponsorship program in early 2016. He was a driven and intelligent secondary student, but due to poverty, he was at great risk of needing to drop out of school. Thanks to monthly support, he was able to stay in school and graduated in November 2019! That December, he was invited to join the staff at HFL to support programs. At first, he was primarily doing case management in the Outreach Program. When COVID hit and the Outreach Program was indefinitely suspended, Daniel moved to the role of Residential Counselor at the Transitional Center. He currently lives near the HFL campus with other young adults and is able to help financially support his family. “I was challenged in starting this new life after high school. It was a hard situation but with time, it became better. I have been using many of the skills and knowledge I learned in school to support the boys.” This year has been really hard on Daniel’s family. He explained, “I’m very grateful to Hope for Life for employment this last year. I have been able to provide food for my family through COVID, and support them in different ways. My dream is to finish university so I can serve my country, and even the world.”

At the Center, the youngest boys especially love Daniel, sharing “We all love how he plays with us. He helped me catch up in reading and writing.”

We are so grateful for your support of youth like Daniel, who has so much to offer the community and is becoming a Changemaker of his own.
MATTHEW | SECONDARY 2 STUDENT | 16-YEARS-OLD
From the moment Matthew arrived at Hope for Life in early 2016, it was clear that he was gifted. He was enrolled in a private academy where he worked hard, immediately understanding the value that education had for his future. At the end of primary school, he completed his national exams and performed so well, that he received a special placement by the government in a top secondary school!

That first year of boarding school highlighted his transformation. While away at boarding school, it can be tempting for young boys to get into trouble, but not Matthew. He continues to do well and remains at the top of his class.

In late 2019, Matthew was officially reunified with his family. With HFL’s help, he had been investing in strengthening his relationship with his uncle. It became strong and his uncle eventually welcomed Matthew home as his son. Mathew has also been able to reconnect with other family members, including his older brother!

Matthew is an impressive and kind young man. He is a role model to younger boys in his community and at HFL. After secondary school, he has dreams to attend university, particularly abroad! Monthly support ensures that Matthew’s gifted potential continues to be realized and reached.
CHRISTOPHER | WELDER | 24-YEARS-OLD
“I am now responsible for my family, not only myself. I work hard to take care of my family.”

Christopher is the first HFL youth to marry and have a child! One of HFL’s first participants, Christopher was reunified with family in 2012, where he continued receiving psychosocial and economic support. He attended vocational school for welding and eventually reached financial independence in 2019.

“I have been using my welding skills for small jobs in the village. When there is not enough work in welding, I cultivate different crops. I have been able to save money and I can buy all of us medical insurance every year.”

“When my first welding machine was stolen, Hope for Life helped me replace it. But one of my greatest accomplishments recently has been growing and harvesting crops. I have dreams to continue my own self-development so that I may move my family from one financial level to another. I want to see my son go to school. I will continue working hard so that I may be a respectable and contributing member of society.”
JOSHUA | PRIMARY 3 STUDENT | 11-YEARS-OLD
Perhaps more than any other HFL boy, Joshua has had the most drastic transformation. Born with limb differences, he and his family were often harassed by others in the community. He was not able to attend school due to his mobility issues and his family could not afford the medical care and intervention necessary to improve his quality of life. Many of the boys at Hope for Life’s Transitional Center knew Joshua and advocated for his enrollment in HFL’s services.

In early 2015, HFL was able to get Joshua fitted for a prosthetic. He was now able to attend school, and within 8 months, it was clear he was very intelligent and driven. However, doctors recommended that his other leg potentially be amputated and also fitted with a prosthetic. With generous support from the HFL community, Joshua was able to travel to Kenya to receive additional consultations and the surgery needed for him to keep his leg! Following his surgery in 2017, he resided at the Transitional Center to heal and recuperate.

Hope for Life staff and boys gave Joshua a space to come and be himself. The boys of HFL gave Joshua life again. They taught him, included him, and loved him after he spent much of his young life being shunned. The two years he resided at the Transitional Center, he competed with two other boys for the top academic spot at their school. We are all so proud of him!

Joshua returned home in 2019. He’s happy to be home with his mom and younger brothers, and also be able to continue his education. He continues to fight for the top spot in his class!

Thanks to the generosity of monthly supporters, Joshua and his family continue to receive the support they need from HFL. In February 2021, he began meeting with doctors to get fitted for a new prosthetic as he has outgrown his current one! We cannot wait to see how Joshua and his family continue to grow and be a light to those around them.
OLIVER | WELDER, BARBER & FARMER | 20-YEARS-OLD
“I still use my training, not only to earn money, but to remind myself of the different skills that I have.”

Oliver is the definition of hard work and resilience. One of HFL’s first participants, Oliver has come a long way in his young life. After living at HFL’s center for a few years, he reintegrated back to his family in 2011. In 2019, he completed vocational school in welding, found his first job, and reached financial independence. He also decided to learn the skills necessary to be a barber and he even started his own salon! He was proudly able to support his mother and siblings with food, clothing, and medicine.

Then COVID hit and crushed his business. But that did not keep Oliver from learning how to provide for those around him, sharing, “This last year was challenging because of COVID, but I found someone to help cultivate, so I have been learning to grow fruits and vegetables.”

“Even though it was my first time cultivating, I was able to harvest a lot of food. I feel proud that I was able to do that. I’m proud that I have learned so many skills. I would like to learn more about rearing livestock. My long-term goal is to become a businessman using one of my skills to support myself and my family.”

Despite changing paths multiple times, Oliver has always worked hard and is determined to create a better life for himself and his family. He is also one of the first HFL youth to grow his family! “I have a son named Isaac. I want to be able to provide for all of us.”

Oliver recently began working with HFL staff again to help him strengthen his businesses and ability to provide for his family. Even though Oliver has officially graduated from HFL programs, we understand that sometimes, youth and families need additional support as life unfolds. No matter what he does, we know Oliver will be successful and continue to care for those in his life.
PAUL | PRIMARY 5 STUDENT | 17-YEARS-OLD
Paul represents one of the most successful reintegrations at HFL. When he came to Hope for Life’s Center in 2015, he was several years behind academically. But he worked extremely hard to get caught up, spending his evenings in tutoring sessions at the Center. Compared to others, he was fearless in learning and wasn’t afraid to make mistakes. One day, it all started to come together for him, and he became one of the best-English speakers to ever come through HFL’s programs.

Paul also transformed behaviorally. When he first came to HFL, he was full of anger and struggled to process his emotions in a healthy way. Through psychosocial counseling, he was able to learn how to control his emotions and cope when things are difficult. Staff at the Center recognized this change,saw his potential, and offered him many responsibilities. He became one the best ‘helpers,’ choosing to assist the guards or the cooks in the kitchen regularly. He was always ready to prepare food or cook a meal. These responsibilities gave him the opportunity to relate to others and practice his communication skills.

In 2019, Paul was ready to reintegrate. Through family tracing, it was determined that he would thrive best with a foster mother, a woman who had once cared for him years prior. She eagerly welcomed him back and through monthly giving, Paul continues his education.

This reunification is special as there is so much love and mutual respect between Paul and his foster mother. Paul said, “I love her too much. I am not even her biological child and she treats me like her son. I am no different than her children. When I think of her, I feel something in my chest and I can even have some water in my eyes.”

At his new school, Paul was chosen to be ‘the language prefect,’ nominated by his teachers to ensure that everyone is speaking English as much as possible. It’s incredible to see a boy with little education who once lived in fear and anger now serve as a role model for his peers and have so much love to give to others.
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NAVIGATING ONE YEAR OF COVID

Navigating one year of COVID

It’s been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe and changed everything. It has been a challenging twelve months, marked by loss, fear, and disruption. Despite the hardships, however, Hope for Life has endured and continued to provide necessary services to Rwandan families impacted by homelessness.
Our ability to survive this most challenging year was made possible by you, our dedicated community of partners. Thank you for sharing in our vision of youth and families empowered to holistically thrive. While the effects of COVID are long from over, let’s take a look back at what this “year of COVID” has meant for Hope for Life and those served.

School

One of the most immediate and longest-lasting effects of the pandemic has been the closure of Rwandan schools. Schools shut down in March 2020, and the vast majority have not yet reopened. In the Rehabilitation Program, we were able to temporarily expand our teaching staff and move classes to the center. For children in our community-based programs, however, this has meant the loss of formal education. Additionally, typically at least one meal is provided during the school day. With school closures, those meals and the costs associated with them fell to families or HFL.
Older youth who were enrolled in boarding school were sent home instead of remaining at school for the majority of the year. As parents with school-aged children know, school also provides a necessary reprieve for parents and guardians. This reprieve can be especially important for families who were recently reintegrated and are adjusting to new roles, expectations, and routines. As a result, some families experienced a harder period of transition than was expected. For others, the extra time together has strengthened family connection, and allowed children to learn new skills around the home. Several older youth were also helped to find internships in safe settings as a way to continue growing towards eventual employment.
School is still closed in most areas as COVID cases remain high. And while youth, staff, and families grow restless, they continue to prove the power of resilience and ingenuity to keep learning as best as they can during these challenging times.

Relief

Schools weren’t the only things to shut down in the pandemic. Nearly all local businesses were impacted by lockdowns as well as a recession. This was especially burdensome for HFL families and graduated youth, the majority of whom work as day-laborers or small business owners in non-essential industries. Under periods of strict lockdown, this meant that most of the families HFL serves were immediately out of work. Coupled with having children at home 24/7, their daily expenses quickly rose.
With your support, HFL was able to provide immediate relief to 1,325 individuals in the form of food, medical care, and rental assistance. This relief not only met immediate needs but was crucial in preventing children from experiencing or re-experiencing homelessness.
Sadly, the government also required us to indefinitely pause the Outreach Program for safety reasons. HFL staff quickly got to work finding safe places to transition this program’s youth, either into the rehabilitative center or with families who received follow-up care.

Construction

Construction on our second rehabilitative center and administrative facility were not safe from COVID’s reach. Periods of lockdown or restricted movements continue to impact the project’s timeline. Additionally, the economic fallout of the pandemic increased the price of building materials.
Construction on our second rehabilitative center and administrative facility were not safe from COVID’s reach. Periods of lockdown or restricted movements continue to impact the project’s timeline. Additionally, the economic fallout of the pandemic increased the price of building materials.
The buildings were scheduled to be completed by March 2021, but it is unclear exactly how the timeline will be affected given another recent round of lockdowns that halted construction progress again. We are grateful for the many ways our construction funders and partners have displayed flexibility, and for the construction team who has hired several HFL beneficiaries, providing them with valuable skills and income during this time of job loss and economic uncertainty.

Fundraising

The pandemic has certainly affected the U.S. team as well. Anticipating an economic recession, all non-essential expenses were immediately cut, reducing the operating budget by 25%. Included in these cuts was all travel to Rwanda and the rent of our U.S. team’s physical office space. Since March 2020, the U.S. team has been working 100% remotely. We also had to cancel our in-person Gala, which provides an opportunity for HFL partners to gather together in the spirit of fellowship and is responsible for nearly 30% of our annual revenue. Instead, a A Week of Hope was implemented, bringing daily videos and virtual fundraising to the HFL community.
While we originally planned for 2020 and the next few years to be years of growth, 2021 will be another year where sustainability is prioritized through lean spending, remote work, and virtual events.

Health

Of course, the most significant impact of the pandemic is the loss of health and life around the globe. Fortunately, the HFL team has been blessed with good health over the past year. Most of our youth and families have also remained healthy and safe. While vaccine rollout is underway in the U.S., it is not anticipated to arrive in Rwanda until April 2021 at the earliest.
This past year has been challenging to say the least and has required Hope for Life to pause, reevaluate priorities, and pivot in ways we had not anticipated. However, we have been constantly reminded of the power of community in all the ways that our partners have shown up. Whether in gifts, time, or prayer, you have given us all grace, hope, and encouragement. We know that we can continue to weather these challenges and hope this is the start of the end of this pandemic. Thank you for your dedication and continued support!

Resilience & Relief

After spending several years at HFL’s rehabilitative center healing from homelessness, brothers *Asha and *Yared were reunified with their mother, *Betty, in 2019. Their reintegration at home was going well, but then COVID hit. Betty is a single mother, and unfortunately lost her job due to the pandemic. Suddenly, Betty, Asha, and Yared were at risk of eviction and losing all the progress they have worked so hard towards.
With your support, their family was supported with rent, food, and utilities until Betty could find new employment, ensuring they could remain together safely in their home without the fear of having to experience homelessness again.
*Note: All names have been changed for youth confidentiality purposes.
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“MY SON IS HOME!”

"MY SON IS HOME!"

Theo never thought he would see his son again. One day, he woke up to discover that his son, Elliot, was gone, having suddenly and strangely disappeared without a word in the night. None of his neighbors had any information. After weeks of searching unsuccessfully for his son, Theo mourned his son as dead.
But Elliot wasn’t dead. He was hundreds of miles away in Rwanda’s capital city in search of food and resources to help his family. Having grown up for years experiencing poverty and food insecurity, 15-year-old Elliot decided to see if he could do anything about it. So he left home in the middle of the night without telling a soul.

On the streets, Elliot not only realized how hard it could be to find help, but he also unfortunately experienced further trauma and exploitation. In October 2019, Elliot began attending Hope for Life’s weekly Outreach Program. There, he learned that he didn’t have to continue struggling on his own. He learned that there were people who cared about him and wanted to help him achieve the life he was seeking. After attending several Outreach sessions, Elliot decided to transition into HFL’s rehabilitation program.

While living at the rehabilitative center, Elliot took classes with HFL’s tutors and teachers to help him catch up on the formal education he had missed. He was motivated and learned quickly, so in January 2020, he began attending public school.

Soon, HFL’s reintegration team was able to trace Elliot’s family and begin the reunification process. When Theo received a call that his son was alive, he didn’t believe it. It was only when Elliot visited his family in person, that his father cried tears of joy that his son was in fact alive! Over the next several months, HFL’s staff worked alongside Theo to identify ways that he could generate more income for his family. Staff also helped Elliot heal from his experience on the streets and prepare emotionally for eventually moving back home with his family.

This fall, Elliot officially reunified with his family and moved home! His father shared, “I now have a reason to eat, drink, and work again – my son is home!” Elliot promised his father to stay home, and his father promised to support and guide him going forward. Elliot and his family will continue to receive follow-up care from HFL’s reintegration team to ensure a lasting and successful reunification. Thank you for your support to bring families like Elliot’s back together.

A WEEK OF HOPE

Thank you to our community of partners for making A Week of Hope a success!
Over $96,000 was raised to empower youth and families to leave homelessness for good. Missed the daily videos released during A Week of Hope? Head to our page to check them out!

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

Construction on our facility expansion in Rwanda continues on progress and is on track to finish in early 2021!

We are so excited to have a second rehabilitative center and administrative building, allowing Hope for Life to serve even more youth on their healing journey from homelessness to reuniting with families.

Construction has also provided several HFL beneficiaries the opportunity to work and gain valuable job skills.

Six of the young adults who are working towards becoming financially independent were hired by the construction company, allowing them to not only learn a new trade, but to earn money and practice financial independence.

We are so proud to see them grow and be a part of creating something that will help other youth thrive!

Thank you to all who have contributed to our construction efforts!

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REHABILITATION IN THE MIDST OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC

REHABILITATION IN THE MIDST OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC

The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected all of us in unimaginable ways. Despite it all, we are continuously amazed by the resilience, hope, and care shown by the greater Hope for Life community.
We would not be able to weather this storm without you!

ven in the midst of a global health crisis, child homelessness continues. With your help, HFL has been able to respond in unique ways to ensure children and families in Rwanda remain safe and equipped with the care they need.

Our Rehabilitation Program experienced significant changes, including school closure, a non-essential travel ban, and the youth spent a few months in lockdown alongside staff. While quarantine was challenging for everyone, we were also encouraged by the resilience and creativity of our youth and staff.

One of the activities that youth in the Rehabilitation Program participated in during quarantine was art therapy. They spent several weeks on a “What’s in You” series, taking the time to think about and express their thoughts and feelings.

The end of every session brought the opportunity to share if they wanted to. Amongst the plethora of positive and challenging things depicted include, “Who should I trust?,” “Why do parents hate their children?,” and “I am strong.”

The boys have been enjoying their art therapy sessions, especially those who are more reserved as this allows them to express themselves in a way that feels safe and accessible.

In addition to art therapy, the youth participating in the Rehabilitation Program created and elected their first Children’s Council! Six boys were democratically chosen, with the expectation that they will be role models in the home and work together as a bridge between boys and staff.

Image 1: Art therapy “What’s In You”
Image 2: The youth in the Rehabilitation Program had their voices heard by voting for their peers to represent them on the Children’s Council

If boys have concerns, they can bring them to the Children’s Council who meets weekly to discuss solutions and bring them to staff. Ethan*, a younger boy, was elected as the founding President! The older boys had too many nominees on the ballot, effectively splitting the vote and putting a 10-year-old in charge! Ethan was thrilled and is taking his role as President very seriously.

We can’t wait to see how the Children’s Council empowers the boys to have an even stronger voice in their own empowerment!

A NIGHT OF HOPE GALA 2020 CANCELLED

In March, we announced that our A Night of Hope Gala, originally scheduled for May 15th, was postponed to October 16th due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After further thoughtful consideration, the U.S team has decided to cancel an in-person gathering for 2020. At this time, it is unknown if large gatherings will be allowed or safe to perform.

As stewards of your generous financial resources, we feel it makes the most financial sense to host a virtual, week-long event instead.

Please join us online the week of October 5th for exclusive videos and to help raise necessary funds to continue empowering youth to escape homelessness and holistically thrive!

More information will come soon.

HFL HAS A NEW WEBSITE!

After nearly a year in the making, we are thrilled to announce a new and improved website! Be sure to check it out today! Please bear with us as we work through any glitches. If you would like to provide any feedback, we welcome you to contact us at admin@hopeforlife.us.

The website isn’t the only thing getting a revamp this year. You may have noticed that over the last year, we have been slowly transitioning away from our child sponsorship program. Sponsors have been an integral part of our community and we are deeply grateful for their faithful partnership. We will continue to honor all existing sponsorships until the sponsored child graduates from our programs.

However, we have ceased seeking new sponsorships and are transitioning to a new monthly giving program instead.

There are several reasons for this change. As an organization, both in Rwanda and the U.S., we feel this decision is in the best interest of the youth and families Hope for Life serves.

By not having a sponsorship program, we can better protect the identities of children, which is imperative in their trauma-healing and our ability to be ethical storytellers. Child sponsorship is also limiting our fundraising efforts and requires significant staff time and resources. By broadening our fundraising activities, we can be better stewards of your financial partnership.

On the new website, you will see a page dedicated to our new Changemakers monthly giving program! We are excited for the opportunities this program will provide both for the youth in our programs and for you, our community of partners.

The Changemakers program allows you to choose your monthly donation and if you would like to support a specific program. Then, you’ll receive regular updates on that program from us. There will even be Changemaker-only events in the future!

We hope you’ll consider becoming a Changemaker. Because that’s literally how we think of our supporters. Your partnership is making meaningful, sustainable change in the lives of youth recovering from homelessness.

Without you, youth and families would not have the resources to achieve a flourishing future! Please join us.

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A NIGHT OF HOPE GALA POSTPONED: A COVID-19 UPDATE

A NIGHT OF HOPE GALA POSTPONED: A COVID-19 UPDATE

Dear valued member of the Hope for Life community,

Like you, we have been closely following the news of the COVID-19 coronavirus. We are saddened by the loss of life and the overarching negative effects on communities worldwide.

After much thought, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to postpone our A Night of Hope Gala, originally scheduled for Friday, May 15th in Seattle. The health and safety of our guests, staff, volunteers, and greater community is our number one priority. The Centers for Disease Control, City of Seattle, King County, and State of Washington have issued strong recommendations at this time to cancel any gatherings of 10 or more people in order to control the spread of the virus. As the event would occur in the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States at this time, we take these recommendations seriously. While we do not know what this outbreak will look like in May, we feel it is our responsibility to our guests, community, and ultimately, our mission, to make this decision now.

We are delighted to report, however, that the event has been rescheduled for Friday, October 16, 2020. It is our hope that by this time, travel and gatherings will be returned to normal, allowing for a fun and inspiring evening of celebration and generosity for Hope for Life! In the meantime, please save this new date, and visit our Gala web page for more information and to purchase early bird tickets!

Finally, we know that this feels like an overwhelming and uncertain time. While social isolation is encouraged for health and safety, we also need each other as a community more than ever. We are especially disheartened to hear about the xenophobic and racist reactions to our Asian and Asian-American neighbors during this time. We encourage everyone to reach out and check-in with your community. As we reprioritize our fundraising efforts for the year, you can expect to hear more stories about the impact you are creating in Rwanda, hopefully bringing our community of partners closer together.

Thank you for your understanding, flexibility, and continued support to empower youth to escape homelessness and holistically thrive. We are extremely grateful for your dedicated and loving presence as part of the Hope for Life family. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to our US team at admin@hopeforlife.us.

With appreciation,

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Megan Chao
U.S. Executive Director/Co-Founder

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Ally Shook
Development Director

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SPRING 2020 NEWSLETTER

SPRING 2020 NEWSLETTER

Dear Hope for Life Family,

The past several years have been full of growth for HFL. With your partnership, more children are being served each year, programs have expanded, and operations have grown in both Rwanda and the U.S. HFL, while still grassroots, has graduated into a more sophisticated and mature organization through a decade of experience. With such growth comes changes, including within our own leadership. Over 10 years ago, Chantal Umutesi co-founded HFL with Megan Chao and Hiliary Anderson.

Their common vision to see children empowered to escape homelessness brought them together. Since then, Chantal has faithfully served the organization as a staff member, a Board Member, and the past five years as the Executive Director in Rwanda.

I would like to formally announce that Chantal will be stepping down from her role as Executive Director in Rwanda. This decision was reached with mutual agreement as Chantal focuses on her growing family and HFL continues to expand. We are immensely grateful for Chantal’s leadership and contributions during her time as Executive Director.

She helped to strengthen the Rehabilitation Program, established preventative measures to help keep families together, and initiated the idea to build a second rehabilitative home. Please join us in thanking Chantal for her countless contributions, time, and love as HFL’s leader in Rwanda.

We will soon start the process of hiring a new Executive Director. In the interim, I will continue serving as Chair for the Board of Directors in Rwanda, as well as part-time Interim Executive Director during the search, hiring, and onboarding process. We look forward to introducing you to our new leader later this year.

We appreciate your ongoing support to equip youth to leave homelessness here in Rwanda.

Peace,

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Christophe Mbonyingabo
Chair, Hope for Life Ministry Board of Directors
Interim Executive Director, Rwanda

2019 By the Numbers

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Youth actively experiencing homelessness provided with basic resources and case management.
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Youth equipped to successfully transition out of homelessness.
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Families reunited and empowered to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty for good.
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Young men reached financial independence and graduated from HFL's programs.

Thank you for making 2019 another successful year!
A full Annual Report will be available in May.

A Night OF Hope 2020

Join us in downtown Seattle for an evening of fun, impact, and generosity at Hope for Life’s annual Gala, A Night of Hope!

Friday, October 16, 2020 | 7:00 PM
Block 41 | Seattle, WA

Tickets and details

If you have been a part of the Hope for Life (HFL) community for a while, you’ve probably seen stories about one of the first boys in HFL’s programs, Pacifique, more lovingly known as Paci. Paci transitioned into HFL’s rehabilitative home after spending three years living on the streets as a young boy. Having no family or relatives to return to, Paci spent several years at HFL’s rehabilitative home healing from trauma, going to school, growing spiritually and learning valuable life skills before transitioning into independent living nearly three years ago. Now 23-years-old, Paci recently graduated from high school and underwent national exams to see if he qualifies to continue his education at the University level.

In the next year while Paci waits for his scores and evaluates his future options, we asked Paci to return to Hope for Life, but in a new capacity–as a staff member! Paci’s patient, kind, and outgoing personality make him a favorite among the younger program participants, whom he considers to be his little brothers. With Paci’s unique experience and maturity, he is able to relate to boys transitioning out of homelessness in a special way and we know he will have a positive, lasting effect on all.

“This is the life I wished for… I am becoming someone that the people who knew me before couldn’t expect at all. It’s hard for me to explain how happy I am. I want to change the world and people’s lives. I know society needs me.”

Your partnership helped Paci escape homelessness, obtain an abundant life, and we could not be more proud of the young man he has become! To see an individual not only flourish after the trauma of homelessness but to be able to give back and share hope and love with others, is nothing short of amazing.
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WHAT DOES ‘HOLISTIC CARE’ LOOK LIKE?

WHAT DOES ‘HOLISTIC CARE’ LOOK LIKE?

At Hope for Life, we talk regularly about how your support is enabling holistic impact in Rwanda. But what exactly does that mean?

We believe that to be human is to be multi-faceted. Many different aspects of our lives combine to make up the totality of who we are as individuals. As such, to us, holistic care means the physical, spiritual, psychological, emotional, relational, educational, and financial aspects of each unique individual are addressed. It ideally involves working alongside the child and their family. Holistic healing is not a quick fix. On the contrary, it usually takes a great amount of time because it is complex. It is also not easy, full of setbacks and challenges. But we firmly believe the process is worth it in order for children to have flourishing futures.
9-year-old Mabel’s story if a wonderful example of the impact holistic care can have. Mabel is part of Hope for Life’s (HFL’s) Community Sponsorship program. Children in this program live at home with family, and receive services to help ensure extreme poverty does not force them to the streets.
Mabel spent her early childhood experiencing extreme poverty in a single-parent household with her three older sisters. When her mom was able to find temporary work, her and her siblings ate well and her older sisters were able to attend school. But when she couldn’t, they struggled. Sometimes they would go for days without eating. In the rainy season, sickness was rampant as the cold and rain would seep through gaps in their mud hut. If they got sick, all they could do was pray as there was no money for medicine. As the youngest of four children, there was not much hope that there would be enough resources to send Mabel to school.

Thanks to partners like you, however, Mabel’s life today is very different from her early years. When she joined HFL’s Community Sponsorship Program in 2015, she was able to go to school for the first time in her life and enjoy access to regular medical care. Her mom is able to focus on working and providing a better future for her children. In fact, after seeing her dedicated work ethic, HFL helped Mabel’s mom secure permanent employment! Your support also helped provide some much needed home repairs, providing increased security and warmth for the entire family.

By addressing these various aspects of Mabel’s life, her and her family are able to focus on making their future bright instead of worrying about survival. As a result, Mabel is truly thriving. She is in first grade and is often ranked near the top of her class! The first person to speak fluent English in her family, she is a great source of pride for her mom and sisters. She’s even started teaching them some English at home. Her mom glows with pride, talking regularly to friends and neighbors about the fact that as a result of her regular employment and HFL’s support, all four of her children are now able to attend school and create greater opportunities for their futures.

When the trauma of extreme poverty is reduced or even eliminated, the damaging cycle of poverty can be broken and children like Mabel can have flourishing futures. Thanks to your love and generosity, the unique needs of the whole person are able to be served, giving each child a chance at a sustainably abundant life.

“I want to thank you for helping me. Thank you for sending me to school. Before, I couldn’t go to school and our house was so bad and we were very poor. Now, I am eating and I am speaking English and our house is good and I love my teacher so much. I got really sick last year and missed a lot of school and got low marks. I knew I had to work extra hard so I could pass and then I ended up with 100%! I am working so hard and God is helping me and you are helping me.” -Mabel

SAVE THE DATE!

Mark your calendars for Friday, May 15th for Hope for Life’s 2020 Gala in Seattle. More details to follow.

OUTREACH PROGRAM UPDATE

The new Outreach Program has officially started! With your support, 41 boys were served on the first day of operations. They received a warm meal, had an opportunity to bathe and wash their clothes, speak with our psychologist and community resource officer, and participate in a worship service. The Outreach Program will continue to offer drop-in services twice per week for children in need. Thank you for making this new program possible and sharing a message of hope and encouragement with these children!

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