You are invited to CREATIVE CHANGE: A BENEFIT ART EXHIBITION FOR RWANDAN STREET CHILDREN. Hosted by Hallway Gallery in Bellevue on September 18th, the event will feature semi-abstract paintings that portray the beauty and struggles of daily life in East Africa. Displaying a wide variety of artistic styles, canvas sizes, and vibrant colors, the diverse price range of the exhibit offers something for any budget. Half of the funds raised from this event will directly benefit Hope For Life Ministry, while the remaining 50% support Rwandan painters who grew up in orphanages themselves. One of the Rwandan artists will even be in attendance of the exhibition!
We look forward to joining you for a meaningful night filled with beautiful art and wine for the betterment of Rwandan children!
This week, HFL staff arrived to see all the boys hard at work cleaning dishes, sweeping, cleaning out their rabbit cages, and washing their clothes. They are motivated by a new program created to encourage them to continue having good behavior and to complete their chores. Staff will randomly draw two names of boys each week, and if they’ve been good, they’ll be taken out by staff for the afternoon and given $2 to spend as they please. Words fill the air at HFL of soccer matches, buying icecream, and having more personal time with staff members.
Six Seattle Pacific University students visiting Rwanda eagerly volunteered to help HFL this month by cleaning and painting our dirty walls and playing with the children. While on his way home from school, eight year old Daniel heard from neighborhood kids that six abazungus (white people) were at his house. When asked why he arrived home from school unusually early before the rest of the boys, he wheezed between heavy breathing, “I was so excited, I ran the whole way back!”
This month, HFL’s newest member Muhawe wants to thank you. Two months ago, Muhawe wore dirty, clothes and a stone cold expression on his face each day as he begged and lived in an abandoned building. Today, Muhawe regularly impresses staff with his humility and servant attitude. While the SPU team scrubbed away grime, Muhawe stood watching. 30 minutes later, he mustered up the courage to ask if he could help. Seeing the huge, delighted grin that spread across his face when we assured him that we’d love his assistance, you’d think we’d just given Muhawe an amazing gift! He eagerly began scrubbing walls and cleaning floors alongside of us, joyfully humming and smiling. We praise God for the changes in this young boy.
“This is Muhawe. I am 12 years old. I pray for you so that you can continue to help us at HFL. I ask God that He’ll let you be able to visit HFL someday. I also thank God because He changed me and took me away from the street and now I’ve stopped taking drugs. Please continue to pray for me. I also thank God because I used to have bugs living in my feet and now they are gone!”
Thanks to a grant from the Hovde Foundation to buy land and build a house, HFL now officially owns its own land! HFL staff took the boys on a 15 minute walk to the new piece of land to share the wonderful surprise with them. Upon reaching the plot, they told the boys that the land they were standing on is now theirs. The boys were overjoyed and began cheering and thanking God!
Since the children first came to HFL, they have been interceding with God that He would give HFL land. This answered prayer has been a great encouragement to the boys, and one of the older boys David proclaimed, “I have prayed so much for land, and I know that God has answered my smaller prayers for food and clothes, but I didn’t expect that He would answer such a big request. I am going to pray even more now!”
As everyone walked back to the home, a couple of the boys expressed their fear of needing to change schools due to the location of the new land. Upon hearing their concerns, Veterne spun around in his wheelchair and rebuked them saying, “Are you crazy!? Don’t you think that if God has provided us land and a house that he will provide a car too?” This gave all the staff quite a laugh.
Please be praying for Claude. He ran away, and has been unwilling to talk with HFL staff. This is the first time a boy has left in 8 months. We pray that he will come back to the home to stay.
Most of the boy’s sandals are broken and they are in need of new ones.
The boys also have been longing for soccer cleats, but we have been unable to afford them.
** If you’d like to give to either of these specific needs, please mail a check to the address on our website or donate through paypal, designating which project you’d like to support (http://www.hopeforlife.us/).
This month, Habimana would like to share his gratitude for your support: “I am Emmanuel Habimana. I study in primary 3. First of all, I greet you. I am so happy to write to you and am so happy to inform you of that I play soccer, watch T.V., and I’m always at Hope For Life. I hope to see you one day at HFL. Thank you so much for how you help us. God Bless you!”
We are THRILLED to report that our boys have received their report cards from their first term in school. They performed remarkably! 15 out of 20 of our children were in the top 10 of their class, with the average class size being 45 kids. In third grade, Paul had the highest scores in the class, Pacifique took second place, and Habimana took third place. This has been a huge validation of all the hard work HFL’s staff has been doing the past year, preparing the boys academically to re-enter the public school system after so many years away from school. The children are pleased with their scores and a healthy competition has emerged for Term 2 to see who will be first in their classes. Meanwhile, their teachers remain happily stunned! We could not be happier or prouder of their achievements and diligent effort.
Yves, a 13 year old boy in HFL, decided to fast for the first time last month because he wanted to draw closer to God and ask for wisdom to do well in school. The night after his day of fasting, Yves loudly woke up the oldest boy in HFL exclaiming, ‘I think I’m dying! Wake up and make me some food!’ We all had a good laugh the next morning.
This month, Emmanuel wishes to thank you for your support of HFL:
“Hello, My name is Emmanuel Nshimiyimana and I am 15 years old. I greet all of you, our friends, in America. Today I am so happy because I am in Hope For Life. I am happy because I am studying so well in third grade, because I am becoming a strong child of God and because I know that God helps each person who is sad. I thank God because we are so good here now. I want to tell you thank you so much and I ask that God will bless you for helping us. I hope that you have a good life and to see you in Hope For Life someday. God bless you! -Emmanuel”
Last month we had a wonderful 1-Year Celebration with the children and community members in Rwanda who have been involved with HFL this past year. Paul shared his testimony with boldness and inspired several people who were in attendance. We wished each of you could have been here to celebrate with us. We look forward to another year together!
HFL’s new connection program has begun as each child excitedly received their first letter from their penpal. Each child has been encouraged greatly at having a friend in America who would want to be personally involved in their life. When they received their letter and pictures from their pen pals, they ran around the house excitedly yelling and waving their pictures in the air. Thank you to all who are participating and bringing hope to our 20 kids. If you would like to be a penpal to one of our children, email Hilliary at firstname.lastname@example.org
A competition has emerged amongst all the children as they are currently in the middle of their first set of exams. They are studying diligently and can be found everynight praying together on their own initiative, hoping to earn the right to tell their American penpal that they are the smartest student in their class. We are so proud of each child, and particularly of Paul, Veterne, and David whose teachers have reported them as having the highest scores in their classes thus far!
We are thrilled to report that all of our boys have been tested for HIV/AIDS and all are negative!
Pacifique wishes to thank you each of you for your support. He writes: “Hello! Most importantly, I greet all of you who live in America and support HFL! I am happy to write you and to tell you we are so happy in HFL. Everyday we watch TV, play soccer, and study. I don’t have any problems in my life now and I am so happy to go to school. I am also happy to sleep in a good bed and to have a bed room. I praise God because He is big and He gives me life.. Thank you so much for helping us! God bless you so much. Love, Pacifique.“
Your partnership has helped 22 children successfully complete their first month of public school! We have seen immense fruits from our labor over the past year, working to increase the academic level of our children through remedial school and lessons at home. All seven boys in 1st grade have excelled beyond their curriculum, and Paul’s 4th grade teachers have reported him as “chief” of his class intellectually and in leadership! This is a miracle given that one-year ago Paul couldn’t read or write.
HFL has accepted its 20th child into our residential program. Eight-year old Muhawe has been accessing our drop-in services for several months, and began staying at HFL when he contracted a severe case of malaria one month ago. He is now healthy, healing from extreme familial trauma, and is happily enrolled in school for the first time in his life.
Two HFL Staff are going back to school to complete their Bachelor’s degrees as they were financially unable to do so until now. We are excited to be a part of equipping and training Rwanda’s leaders.
HFL has purchased 50 chickens to generate income! Thank you to all who donated through the quilt raffle and enabled us to begin this project.
HFL has the opportunity of possibly receiving a grant from Hovde Foundation (www.hovdefoundation.org), which would enable us to buy land, build a house, and begin agricultural self-sustainability projects. Please be praying that the grant proposal will be accepted.
There have been several grenade bombing attacks in Kigali the past few weeks, which have been attributed to the upcoming Presidential elections. The attacks are occurring far from HFL, but please pray for God’s protection of our staff and boys, and the overall country of Rwanda.
On March 13th, HFL is happily celebrating its 1-year anniversary since rescuing 11 boys from prison and establishing HFL. We can’t thank you enough for your partnership this past year in caring for the total 22 children now enrolled in our program. Each child has a truly remarkable story of transformation, and we could not be happier! We hope you are encouraged to trust our good God and to continue being involved in building the kingdom of God in Rwanda. From all 22 children and 7 staff Morning stretchesin HFL, Murakoze Cyane (Thank you so much)!
On February 1st, the children began attending public school! With your partnership, we have been able to equip 21 children to go to school and better their futures. The eldest is in primary 6 and all the small ones are in primary 1. Please be praying for the success of our boys and that they would not get discouraged in their studies or by the fact that the students in their classes are all younger than them.
Play For Hope, a Christian sports ministry organization, held a soccer clinic with our kids, teaching them drills to improve their skills. The kids had a wonderful time and several local street boys participated as well. Their staff noticed a huge difference in our kids exclaiming, “Whatever you have done, you’ve certainly done it right! These boys are so different from when they arrived at HFL.”
We continue to be in relationship with local street children who regularly come to HFL to wash, to receive a meal, to pray, and to be accompanied to the doctor if they are severely sick. Each day, several of these boys beg staff to be accepted in HFL.
Your chance is finally here to connect with one of the boys at HFL on a personal level – to learn more about his family history, his interests, his dreams, and to begin communicating directly with him via emails. No financial participation is required to participate. Simply email Hilliary Anderson at email@example.com and tell her you’d like to get involved. We hope you will be transformed as much as we have by being in relationship with these children.
Paul, one of the oldest and most mature boys in HFL wishes to be the one to thank each of you for your support this month. He boldly exclaims, “God sees your generosity and will have rewards waiting in heaven for all you have done for us.”
Umwuka mushya! Happy New Year from the children and staff of Hope For Life! December proved to be a monumental month for HFL as 11 children and 1 staff member were joyfully baptized on Christmas day, 50 chickens were purchased to generate income for HFL, and 5 more children were accepted into HFL. Your support has played an enormous role in allowing 21 children to begin this year with renewed hope, excitement for beginning their studies in public school, and immense joy at what they’ve been given. Their lives and hearts have been completely transformation since this time last year.
The Sunday before Paul’s baptism, he boldly stood up with tears streaming down his face and announced that he had something to say. He confessed that he had lied about his family history and was not Rwandan. Convinced he would be forced to leave the home, he declared, “Now I can tell you the truth about my past because I know Jesus. I know that He is always with me and that He is going to take care of me wherever I am, even if I’m on the streets again.” This exhibition of faith initiated a night of confession from all of the boys. The night ended in many tears, hugs, and affirmations of forgiveness and love, furthering the boys’ holistic healing. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” –James 5:16
This is but one story of the dramatic transformation that is occurring at each heart in HFL. May their boldness, healing, and faith inspire you. For more information on the daily happenings at HFL, read Megan’s blog at http://www.megstersblogs.blogspot.com/.
Merry Christmasfrom Hope For Life: A Year In Review
Eight months ago, eight children sat in a prison dejected, alone, starving, and sick with malaria. In the midst of this, eleven other children slept in sewer gutters, begged during the day and took hits of drugs at night to keep warm, ease their hunger, and suppress the emotional pain of being abandoned. Today, each one of these beautiful 19 children is fed, warm, healthy, and most importantly, filled with hope. What began as rescuing 11 boys from prison has grown to be a flourishing home for 16 former street boys and a weekly ministry to 40 other street boys. Each unique child is flourishing and growing in a different way because you cared enough to do something about it.
The past 8 months have also brought success in other realms. Since April 2009, Hope For Life has seen our 4 Rwandan staff grow and flourish immensely. When we started, we observed their hesitancy to make decisions, and suggest their own ideas. Today, they are implementing their own ideas to better HFL and their dreams of taking care of the vulnerable children in their own community are coming true.
One of the last ways we have been encouraged by success has been through you. Since sharing about the plight of street children, you have responded with eagerness, faith, and generosity. You have replied not only by giving of your resources, but also of your hearts. One of the most encouraging things has been the response from this generation of teenagers and young adults. Students have heard about the daily life of kids their age in Rwanda, and have organized car washes to raise money, given up luxuries in an effort to live simply, and become committed monthly sponsors of HFL themselves. It has been beautiful to see the skills and resources of young and old in our community intersect with the needs of our world. Together, we believe we can continue to bring change.
As the end of the year draws near, we ask you to consider giving a one-time gift or becoming a monthly sponsor to Hope For Life. In addition to our regular monthly expenses, the children will begin attending public school in January and each will require a uniform and school supplies. We also hope to make Christmas a special time of celebration. The kids are thrilled at the idea of being able to eat in a restaurant for a first time, and we would like to give them this opportunity for Christmas.
Since sharing about the plight of street children with you 8 months ago, you have responded by giving of your resources and of your hearts. THANK YOU for your past generosity and in advance for doing the same this Christmas season. Following is a list of our needs this Christmas season:
(Hilliary, Veterine, and his sister Rachel)
Hope For Life’s List of needs
School expenses per child for 1 year: School fees $36 Uniform $52 Backpack $7 Paper & pencils $10 School books $15
*Megan arrived safely in Kigali, Rwanda on December 2nd! *We have accepted 3 more children into the HFL home – Veterine, his brother Daniel, and their friend John. These boys stole our hearts on our first trip to Rwanda and when Megan arrived, she immediately began looking for them. Veterine, who was crippled from birth, and his brother lived in severe poverty with a family friend. Everyday Veterine would drag himself through the dirt begging for money. The money he earned went to pay for his sister’s schooling. On our first trip we desperately wanted to help Veterine and give him the opportunity to receive an education so that he would not be forced to beg the rest of his life. However, his mother would not let us pay for his schooling because she needed the money he earned from begging. After talking with Veterine’s mother, she has now agreed to let him live at HFL in exchange for HFL paying for his sister’s schooling. “We are hoping Veterine never spends another day sitting in the dirt begging. He has been so happy since being at HFL! Today, the boys at HFL were literally yelling at each other, fighting over who was going to care for Veterine. It was a beautiful fight 🙂 Their transformation is absolutely remarkable. I think it’s the more amazing thing I have ever seen and I am so deeply encouraged. I wish that everyone who has been a part of HFL could see it!” – Megan Swanson *The most recent and complete update on Hope For Life can be read on Megan’s blog. I would encourage you to do so, it is absolutely amazing the work that God is doing in these boy’s lives. http://www.megstersblogs.blogspot.com/
(Hilliary, Veterine, Daniel, Megan, Rachel, and another sister)
Thank you for helping to make this a memorable Christmas for the children in Hope For Life. The staff and children wish the same to you and your families this holiday season.
One of our staff is attending a 20 day training put on by Youth With A Mission. We are excited she has been given this opportunity to improve her skills with kids, as it has been her dream since she was a young girl to work with vulnerable children. Topics include child advocacy, child rights, development, and motivation for working with children.
We now have 35 rabbits! Possessing these animals has allowed us to cut our food costs, and generate income by selling them at the market. The boys have eagerly taken on an increased responsibility in caring for the rabbits. They excitedly tell staff every time a rabbit is pregnant, and love to help in delivering the bunnies.
The 5 newest boys at HFL have been doing very well in their new environment. One of the youngest boys, Simeon, has been very shy and timid but was found teaching a large group of boys a gospel song at the weekly outreach service for street youth.
Update on Megan’s trip to Rwanda: It’s hard to believe that after over a year of waiting to return to Rwanda, I am leaving in 3 short weeks. While there, I will be living with HFL Staff Member Josiane and her family to help in the many daily tasks at HFL. These duties include assisting with the daily care of the boys, securing local resources and connections to benefit HFL, training staff on basic counseling and behavioral management principles, and coordinating the weekly outreach service to local street children. Please be praying for this trip and for the HFL staff who have been faithfully serving the people of Rwanda.