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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,

team-photo-megan2

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

team-photo-ally

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,

team-photo-christophe

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

2019 By the Numbers

0
Youth actively experiencing homelessness provided with basic resources and case management.
0
Youth equipped to successfully transition out of homelessness.
0
Families reunited and empowered to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty for good.
0
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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NEW BEGINNINGS

NEW BEGINNINGS

New beginnings are often bittersweet. This sentiment is definitely true as we celebrate the milestone transformations of several Hope for Life youth. 

In the past year, eight young men have officially transitioned from Hope for Life’s programs, starting their lives as independent adults. Each of them were equipped to go from living on the streets, to finding stability while living at the rehabilitative home, were reintegrated into the community program, and now have graduated into independent living.

We could not be more proud of them and all they have overcome to accomplish such a meaningful rite of passage! Thanks to YOU for equipping these incredible men with the resources they needed to imagine and achieve a flourishing future for themselves. We’ve featured each graduate below to celebrate their hard work and success.

DAVID

Age: 25 | Computer Repairman

First came to HFL: 2009

OBED

Age: 19 | Barber

First came to HFL: 2009

JEAN PETER

Age: 24 | Welder

First came to HFL: 2009

PATRICK

Age: 23 | Welder

First came to HFL: 2010

EMILE

Age: 21 | Mechanic

First came to HFL: 2013

D´AMOUR

Age: 23 | Photographer

First came to HFL: 2009

JOHN

Age: 20 | Welder

First came to HFL: 2009

BERCO

Age: 20 | Welder

First came to HFL: 2009

Amanda and Emile

Emile’s journey to Hope for Life is not unlike the journeys of many of our boys. But his current transition into a self-supporting adult is what we hope for all of the children who come to us. At just 11-years-old, Emile made the difficult decision to move to the streets rather than continue to live in extreme poverty at home. When he arrived at Hope for Life’s rehabilitative home, he was one of the smallest boys we’ve ever seen due to malnourishment. His warmth and ability to make others laugh quickly stood out.

The time Emile spent at the rehabilitative home was not always easy. Living on the streets for many years without attending school made Emile’s return to the classroom extremely challenging. Despite his hard work and outside resources, he struggled to catch up. After three years at the rehabilitative home, Emile was reintegrated with his family and he moved back home. At that time, he started vocational training to learn auto mechanics, a path much more suited for his strengths and interests rather than traditional school. Reintegration brought new challenges for both him and his parents as everyone had to learn how to be a family again. But Emile persevered and after several years of training and starting his own business, he is successfully working as a mechanic and independently supporting himself. We are all so proud of Emile and are grateful to you for making his success possible.

10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

This year, Hope for Life celebrates its 10 year anniversary! Thank you to ALL of our partners who have made the past decade possible.

Because of you, over 100 children have been empowered to leave the streets for good. Over 230 children have enrolled in school, 11 youth who were formerly homeless have graduated high school or vocational training, are now employed, and have reached financial independence. Three children have received life-saving surgeries. In total, over 900 lives have been improved thanks to your love, generosity, and belief that all children deserve the opportunity to have flourishing futures.

Early days in 2010

EXCITING GROWTH HAPPENING IN RWANDA!

BREAKING NEWS! To usher in the next 10 years at Hope for Life, we are excited to announce a season of growth. In the coming weeks, the team in Rwanda will break ground to build a second rehabilitative home and administrative facility. And later this year, we will be launching a new Community Outreach Program.

The second rehabilitative home will be a two-story building which will help facilitate transformations for 32 children at a time, doubling the current capacity of the rehabilitative program. Similar to our current rehabilitative home, 24/7 holistic care will be offered to children transitioning out of homelessness and extreme poverty. Services will include school enrollment, medical care, trauma counseling, Christian discipleship, and family reconciliation.

The administrative facility will provide space for the growing staff in Rwanda to be effective caregivers and professionals. This space will also be available to the community as a resource where they can gather for meetings, trainings, and come to learn. The facility will house a dedicated computer lab, classroom, and library. With the goal of reconciling and reintegrating as many children as possible with their families, the administrative facility will also offer visiting family members a place to stay with two bedrooms, a bathroom, and kitchen. Because many family members of the boys live so far away, visits can be challenging and often cut short. By providing a space to stay, families can take the proper time they need to heal and move forward.

Additionally, a new program is launching this year. The Community Outreach Program will provide emergency day-services to children currently experiencing homelessness, serving 50 children each week. Children and youth who are on the streets will be able to come and eat a warm meal, take a shower, and meet with Hope for Life staff who will provide community resources. Children will come to know they are loved and that there is hope.

This exciting growth is not possible without the support of dedicated partners like you. We invite you to join us in this new season by making a gift at www.hopeforlife.us/nextchapter.

THANK YOU for empowering even more children to flourish!

A 2018 SNAPSHOT

2018 was another exciting year for Hope for Life. Thank you for making it all possible! Below is a glimpse of what you helped accomplish.

A full report can be found at hopeforlife.us/2019report.

REHABILITATION PROGRAM

38

Children served

7

New Children

2

Reintegrated home

COMMUNITY SPONSORSHIP

74

Children sponsored

31

New Children

7

Completed vocational training

CELEBRATING HOPE GALA

On March 23rd, the U.S. team hosted the Celebrating Hope Gala in Seattle, WA. An empty airplane hangar was transformed for an evening of fun, inspiration, and generosity. Chantal Umutesi, HFL’s Executive Director in Rwanda, was the guest of honor at the largest Gala yet with over 250 guests and 42 volunteers. Sixty new partners were introduced to Hope for Life and over $193,000 was raised to holistically support vulnerable children!

Thank you to everyone who attended, volunteered, and supported this event to make it a huge success!

2019 LEARNING TRIP

The 2019 Learning Trip to Rwanda is taking place from November 9th-19th! Applications are now available at hopeforlife.us/get-involved. If you’re interested, we encourage you to read the FAQs and apply. All selected travelers are required to attend pre and post-trip trainings.

Applications are due August 5th!

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Love Wins

Love Wins

It was late afternoon when Hope for Life’s (HFL) Learning Trip participants arrived to the Nyabugogo neighborhood of Kigali, Rwanda. Chantal, HFL Rwanda’s Executive Director, had driven the car as fast as she could, trying to beat the dark rain clouds looming over the distant hills.

We were scheduled to meet Daniel, an 8-year-old boy in HFL’s Community Sponsorship Program. Daniel’s neighborhood was unlike any others we had seen or visited. Small huts were aligned in narrow rows with tin roofs. Women and children sat outside, huddled around small stoves, just starting to make supper. Laundry hung on lines strewn between the homes. As a group that included three white people, we were used to the curious stares, but walking to Daniel’s home, amidst great poverty, I became acutely aware that I was a stranger and prayed we were not intruding.

Daniel’s mother soon arrived and my anxious feelings dissipated. Carrying a one-year-old on her hip, she welcomed us to her neighborhood and happily lead us through a narrow path between two rows of crowded huts. We suddenly arrived and peered into a dark, 4×6 foot room, roughly half the size of their house. It took several seconds for my eyes to adjust to the darkness before my eyes saw Daniel, sitting in his wheelchair in the corner of the room.

Daniel, the oldest of the three children, was home on school break. Right away, he began making jokes. While I couldn’t understand his punchlines due to the language barrier, he had everyone else in stitches. I instantly liked him. One of the first things I noticed was the bond between Daniel and his mother. It was obvious she deeply loved her children and that Daniel deeply loved his mother.

Living in extreme poverty with three children, one of whom has special needs, is a struggle that I cannot fully comprehend. Additionally, Daniel’s father suffers from addiction and is often absent or abusive.

Six months ago, before finding HFL, Daniel often spent his days home alone. Unable to push a wheelchair through the narrow alleys of their neighborhood while also carrying two small children, Daniel’s mom would have no option but to leave him home while venturing out to find work to feed her family. Daniel didn’t have friends in the neighborhood and dreamed of going to school like other children.

Today, thanks to your support, Daniel gets to spend the school year at a special boarding school for children with disabilities. His family receives regular visits from HFL’s Social Worker who provides holistic support and ensures they have the resources they need. This year, Daniel will begin physical therapy with the hope that one day he will be able to walk with crutches.

Daniel eagerly began sharing how he and his family are doing. He spoke of being glad to spend time with his mom during school break but also of looking forward to returning to school the following month. While he is at school he has friends, more mobility, and is achieving his dreams. At home, he is surrounded by his mother’s love, the resources he needs, and support from HFL staff members.

We left Daniel’s home just as the rain started to sprinkle down. I felt a deep sense of appreciation for our community of supporters, for you. Because of your care and generosity, Daniel has the opportunity to attend a school just for children like him, and his mother doesn’t have to worry about paying for the tuition. While he is at school, she is able to work and help provide for her family. And slowly, because of your partnership, the cycle of poverty is breaking. As we reached the car, I knew one thing for certain: Daniel was loved, by people near and far. And that is a pretty amazing thing.

– Ally Shook, HFL US Assistant Director

We are excited to announce our 3rd Annual Learning Trip to Rwanda! This year’s trip will tentatively occur November 9th through 19th.

This is an opportunity for you to learn about Hope for Life’s ongoing efforts fighting child homelessness and extreme poverty. You will spend time learning from our talented Rwandan partners, get a glimpse into the impact your partnership is empowering in children’s lives, and be inspired to return home as advocates.

It’s time to celebrate ten years of empowering children together at this year’s Annual Gala!

This inspiring event is taking place on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at Magnuson Park in Seattle. To usher in the next decade, we will be revealing an exciting vision for 2019 and beyond, and you’ll have the chance to partner with us. If you live in the Greater Seattle area, there are many ways to get involved:

  • Attend the event. Register at charityauction.bid/celebratinghope
  • Volunteer. We have many volunteer needs the week of and the night of the gala. Learn more and sign up at hopeforlife.us/volunteergala
  • Donate an Auction Item. We are collecting high end, new auction items for our silent auction. Have a vacation home, an unused gift card, or bottles of wine you could donate? Email Sophie at sophia@hopeforlife.us to learn more.