Have you ever had to make the difficult decision of choosing your dreams or doing what is needed in the moment? 20-year-old James is no stranger to this dilemma. In 2015, James eagerly and proudly entered high school, the first person in his family to reach that far in his education. He was thrilled for the chance to focus on his studies and work toward his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. His excitement, however, was short lived as James learned that his mother was seriously ill. As the oldest child in a single parent household, James felt the burden of caring for his family. He found a full-time job as a cook to be able to pay for his mother’s medicine, to provide financially for his four younger siblings, and pay for his school fees. He tried his best to study in his limited free time but his grades inevitably began slipping as he struggled to work full-time and care for his family. It looked like James would have to drop out of school.
Then, in 2016, James found Hope for Life and learned about our community sponsorship program. The program focuses on providing support to vulnerable families with the goal of keeping children in school and families together. Today, James no longer has to worry about choosing between school and his family. He is able to focus on his studies while also being present to help his family. He is in his last year of high school and after graduation he dreams of opening a business and being able to pay for his sibling’s school fees himself.
On school breaks, James enjoys visiting Hope for Life’s staff and the children in our rehabilitative home. He loves teaching the kids acrobatics, gymnastics and encouraging them in their faith. He is a role model to his younger siblings, to the children at Hope for Life’s home, and to his watching community.
Without your support, James would have been forced to drop out of school and he and his family would have likely remained stuck in the cycle of poverty. Thank you for your partnership that is helping make dreams a reality for families like James’!
Over 20 children in Hope for Life’s community program are waiting for a sponsor – someone to commit to providing for their school fees each month so they can achieve flourishing futures. You can become a sponsor to one of these children for less than $1.50 a day.
A few weeks ago I walked into our home for boys and met eyes with a beautiful yet, unfamiliar face. The child was very small, wearing pink clothes, and had a fairly girlish face. My initial thought was …” Hmm, maybe two year old girl, and oh, I think I’m in love with this little angel!” That thought was quickly shaken when the screaming ensued. I thought to myself, ooooh, right, my skin color. Terrifying to some, I know. I brought such a wave of fear over this three year old that my only reaction was to drop to my knees and look as small as I could. I felt like a puddle wanting to spread over the floor. I kneeled on my knees, resting on my heels, and didn’t make direct eye contact. The little one was now softly crying. Two other small boys were home, they both rushed up and hugged me. They looked at the crying child and said, “Don’t have fear! No problem.” After some time, I stood up slowly and walked away. I knew this was going to take time. My coworker shortly after told me, he is a three year old boy and that he was told that Abazungu (white people) eat people. Haha, solid.
I quickly learned, our social worker was the one who had brought Berite. Berite’s mother is currently extremely sick. She has HIV, cancer, and multiple infections. The mother was making a living from prostitution and Berite’s father was not in the picture. We had agreed to take in Berite so the Mom could seek treatment and any operations that could try to improve her health. My heart hurt for the mother. She had to let go of what was likely the one light in her life so she could try to get herself healthy again. Then I thought about Berite. Here was this little angel, so very small, and innocent. Now, dropped off in an unknown place, with a house full of strangers, and white person zombie. I couldn’t fathom what was being processed in that little mind. I wanted to just scoop him up and hug him but I couldn’t. It was going to be some time before he would let my love in.
Instead of chasing the new one around the house and property, like I usually do, over the last few weeks, I got to be a bystander to the care that my boys gave to him. Even beginning to write about it now brings tears straight to my eyes. Our home has the sweetest boys, they make me melt. They have LOVED having someone younger in our house to take care of and its the most beautiful sight. They have such concern for how he’s doing. They see and hear his needs. They prioritize his needs. They do funny things to make him laugh. They run around the house playing with him or give him their last bite of food or porridge. They fight over who gets to hold him and carry him. They see him fall and they rush over to pick him up and hold him. They run home from school and greet him with huge hugs and smiles. The feeling I have in watching the boys care for him is so special, it feels indescribable. It makes me feel proud. I imagine this is how parents begin to feel when they start seeing their kids treating others with kindness and love. It brings a feeling inside of you, a joy that wells up.
It has been almost two months now and this little one has only recently finally warmed up to me! I’m grateful for the gift of just watching for a time, and the process its been. He spent the first few weeks looking fearfully at me. He would constantly watch my interactions with other boys in the house and in doing so, realized maybe I’m not so terrifying after all. A few weeks ago he came up, sat on my lap, and he was so tired just laying against me. I had this moment of “Yes! We made it.” Then, for whatever reason (I would guess fear still), he completely peed himself while sitting on me. I had pee all down my jeans, I had to laugh about it. The rest of the boys had a good laugh about that one too.
Yesterday afternoon, I sat in my office and worked on my computer. Berite came in and out of the room probably a dozen times. He sat on me, he next to me. He talked to me freely. I talked to my Mom and he sat there repeating words I said. I can’t get him to stop talking to me now. He looked at me, and smiled, and laughed. Later in the day, I looked at him, we met eyes, and both giggled. Safe to say, I think he’s let go of any ideas that I’m a zombie in disguise….
He loves acting like we’re on the phone together.
Today, I’m especially grateful for connection found on the other side of fear. What a rewarding experience, to draw near to others. I feel so fortunate to spend time working in an environment continually focused on the well-being of youth and families. Every individual continues to teach me something. What an amazing part of life to think that, at any moment our next teacher can cross our path. And sometimes, it just might start with a little screaming 🙂
Stay up-to-date with what is happening in Rwanda by following Amanda, Hope for Life’s Sponsorship Coordinator, on her blog!
Anyone who has worked with or parented children knows the feeling of swelling pride and celebration mixed with a tinge of sadness watching a child grow up. It happens when you watch him or her take their first steps, go off to kindergarten, or drive for the first time. At HFL, we have experienced this emotion even more than normal lately as this year, we’ve watched seven youth in our sponsorship program graduate from vocational training school. Seeing these young men go from sleeping outside with zero hope that life will improve, to graduating and entering the workforce, we sometimes feels that our hearts might explode.
Many of these young men are now the most educated members of their families; a position that comes with great pride, excitement, and responsibility. HFL commits to walking alongside each young adult until they are able to become financially independent, slowly phasing out our support along the way. A handful of the seven graduates have successfully found employment in their communities. For those unable to find work, HFL is helping them start their own small businesses, providing a steady foundation to launch from.
One of these young men is 22-year-old D’Amour. Tragically orphaned in his early years, D’Amour’s childhood was filled with regular mistreatment and eventual homelessness. When HFL staff met him, he was a fearful, timid, and unconfident boy. Over the next six years living at HFL’s rehabilitative home, we watched him slowly blossom into a courageous, humble, hopeful and determined young man. Upon completing film and photography school, he transitioned into living on his own and HFL helped him opened a small business with a classmate providing film and photo services.
D’Amour recalls, “When we opened the first day, we only had a scanner. We are slowly buying more materials so we can do more. We are dreaming to expand and grow our business and we are very, very grateful for this opportunity.”
As this group of young men begin a new chapter in their lives, we want to thank YOU for making this possible. Your support has enabled each of these young men to go from living on the streets, to believing they are valuable and capable of changing their futures, to now beginning to achieve their dreams as confident and flourishing young adults. THANK YOU! Please join us in keeping them in prayer during this new chapter of their lives.
We are excited to announce our 2nd Annual Learning Trip to Rwanda. This year’s trip will occur November 28 through December 8, 2018. This is an opportunity for you to learn about Hope for Life’s ongoing efforts in fighting child homelessness and extreme poverty. You will meet the children in our programs and our talented Rwandan partners, get a glimpse into how your partnership is empowering lives, and be inspired to return home as advocates.
Looking for a way to get more involved by sharing your time and talents? For those in the Seattle area, we have several opportunities to join our team, including a new internship program. Volunteer and intern positions offer hands on experience in a non-profit setting as well as the opportunity to develop a variety of professional skills.
Recently, Hope for Life hosted its first group Learning Trip in Rwanda. Four supporters from the US joined Megan Chao, US Executive Director, for 10 days to learn about the factors that contribute to child homelessness in East Africa, hear stories of impact, and form relationships with the staff and children. It was a wonderful first trip and we’re excited to host similar trips in the future!
One trip participant was Michael Renda from the Chicago area. Upon returning home, he wrote a beautiful piece about his time that we’re honored to share with you below.
“A little love, a little food and a place to sleep. Three simple things my family and I take for granted every day. A couple of weeks ago, I was able to meet 30 young men and boys who at one time did not have any of those three things in their lives. Boys as young as 7-years-old, leaving their homes and deciding they had a better chance of survival on the streets than living with their families.
I would like to share about one boy whose story is only a couple of months old. Last year, he watched both his parents pass away. With no other family, he took to the streets with his younger sister to survive. Being on the streets and feeding yourself I am sure is hard enough, but to have a second mouth to feed is even tougher. Eventually, he watched his sister die of starvation leaving only him. In a small miracle, a man found him sleeping on the streets and asked if he had anywhere to go. When he said he did not, the man pointed him to Hope for Life and said they are often able to help. Hope for Life is currently running at capacity, but after hearing his story, they knew they could not turn him away. Fast forward six weeks, when this boy with the most simple of actions brought me to tears on three different occasions.
A Little Love I sat around a circle with him and a group of his friends. They asked question after question about silly things. I would answer and an older boy would translate. They asked me a silly question about my dogs and where they go to the bathroom. I explained we had a bell that hangs on the door and they ring it. Once the older boy translated, you would have thought I told the funniest joke of all time. The whole group was laughing but the young boy, who only six weeks earlier was living on the streets, was laughing uncontrollably. Being surrounded by friends in a safe place and watching him laugh brought me so much Joy that I began to cry.
A Little Food We were able to join a special event with the boys one day. It also involved all of us eating together. I sat with the boys and waited for the food to be served. Across from me was the young boy, who six weeks ago was close to starvation. Once the food arrived, I happen to look across the table at him. There were onions on top of the meat and chips. He doesn’t care much for onions, so he picked them off and handed them to the boy next to him. Again came the tears as I thought how perfect it was that he no longer worries about his next meal that he can give away some of his own. Such a simple act, but for me, so much Joy.
A Place to Sleep The boys have two bunk beds per room. With some of the older boys back from boarding school for the holiday break, they had to double up in beds. The first day I was there, the young boy took me by the hand and showed me his bed. He wouldn’t have cared if he shared it with three other boys and there were 20 bunks in the room, he was so proud that this one was his. As you may have guessed, the whole scene brought tears of joy to my eyes.
I personally struggle to find joy in this world. There were many times I experienced joy on this trip. The fact that this boy, whose life should have left him with no joy, could repeatedly be the source of joy is a miracle in itself.
I appreciate Hope For Life for showing me their ministry. It also has a good back story that I would encourage you to read about on their website. Two young women who befriended some homeless boys while teaching in Rwanda.
I also encourage you to follow Amanda Good on social media. She can share stories of joy and transformation like no one else. She is an amazing young woman.
A little love, a little food and a place to sleep. Not sure the order or how much of each you need to transform a child’s life. I just know from first-hand experience that the three together lead to some amazing transformations.”
Hope for Life is excited to celebrate with you at our 4th Annual Gala! This is a fun-filled evening of inspiration and generosity. The event includes a delicious catered dinner, powerful program, unlimited beer and wine, a silent auction, and raising funds to continue empowering children in Rwanda to escape homelessness.
The Gala is made possible because of a deeply generous community coming together for a common purpose. If you would like to purchase tickets to the Gala, please visit charityauction.bid/HopeForLife2018Gala.
See below if you would like to get more involved or support the Gala in other ways:
Consider becoming a matching sponsor by giving a financial donation of any size to be used toward a matching pool that will inspire guests to give more generously at the event. Businesses or individuals can donate. Please contact email@example.com for questions or more information.
Hope for Life is collecting any and all wine with a value of at least $10. The wine will be used toward the fun and exciting “wine grab” portion of the event. Pick-up is available for the Seattle area. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if interested!
We are collecting professionally or home-baked goods for the thrilling dessert dash portion of the event. Pick-up options are available for the Seattle area. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
Your involvement has shown us time and time again how powerful it is when people decide to use their time, networks and resources to impact children in Rwanda. You regularly blow us away with your passion and the innovative and creative ways you find to raise awareness and funds.
One such inspiration is the Bindloss-Gibb family who sponsor a child in Hope for Life’s rehabilitative program. This year for Mark’s birthday, he decided to use his birthday as a platform to raise awareness and funds for Hope for Life. Instead of purchasing gifts, he asked his family and friends to donate to Hope for Life instead. It was a relatively simple yet overwhelmingly powerful choice.
Together, Mark’s friends and family raised an amazing $1,000! Those funds made some long-time dreams come true such as purchasing a fridge for our kitchen, building swings, a permanent soccer goal and field for our kids to enjoy, and starting a garden project for our older youth. We’re particularly excited about the garden project as it’s a way for our staff to spend quality time with some of our more introverted, older kids. In the next few months, we should start to see fruit growing!
A special thank you to Mark for pledging your birthday to bring smiles to others, and to all his friends and family who made these dreams a reality for our children.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” overlay_color=”” video_preview_image=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”no” min_height=”” hover_type=”none” link=””][fusion_imageframe image_id=”4054″ style_type=”none” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”none” lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” alt=”” link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]http://www.hopeforlife.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/header-blog.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type=”none” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”rgba(0,170,173,0)” top_margin=”10px” bottom_margin=”10px” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_text]Many of the children in Hope for Life’s programs showed GREAT success after what had been a challenging year. At the end of the last school year, many of the boys in our rehabilitation program finished with lower than expected grades. There was great disappointment and frustration. What could have turned sour, though, our tenacious boys used as fuel to encourage themselves. As boy after boy made a goal to improve in school, a noticeable shift started to occur in our home’s culture and attitude surrounding education. We added a teacher to our staff team, and the kids started choosing to spend extra time studying in the evenings. Even occasional power outages didn’t stop these boys as they would huddle around a candle instead.
We are proud to report that out of the 24 young men living in Hope for Life’s Hovde house, THREE received the top scores in their class, and FIVE others were in the top four! This is truly mind blowing as many of these children have either never been to school before or have resumed their studies after being forced to take several years off.
Aimable came to HFL last year after enduring two years of homelessness. Out of the six trimesters he has completed while at HFL, he has remarkably been #1 in his class five times! He’s only 10-years-old but this boy has big dreams to finish secondary school, attend university outside of Rwanda, and then become a dancer. We are so grateful that his future won’t be spent on the streets but in a place where he will have the opportunity to chase his dreams! Dream on, Little Dancer.
Once children begin to shed the identity of their past, they begin looking forward instead of backward. Education provides a doorway to a new world of possibilities for their lives. Before HFL, most children’s dreams consisted of surviving another day. When you ask a child now what they envision for their future, their eyes light up, and a smile washes over their face as they tell you that they dream of becoming judges, businessmen, dancers, soccer players, pastors, and even the president.
Thank you for your role in allowing children in Rwanda to dream and to work hard toward their goals!
As we turn eight years old this month, we intentionally pause to celebrate God’s faithfulness and our accomplishments together. We never imagined that advocating for our friend’s release from prison would spark and sustain such an incredible movement of sacrifice, transformation, and hope. Because you joined us in this mission, together we have enabled 75 children to escape homelessness or imprisonment, enrolled 133 children in school, and reunited countless families.
To celebrate, we are excited to announce that Hope for Life has applied to be our own 501c3 and can now receive gifts as our own organization! After eight years with Breakthrough Partners, who faithfully served as mentors and our fiscal sponsor, we are prepared to operate independently. This decision reduces funds spent on administration and maximizes each donation towards empowering families to rise out of poverty in Rwanda.
Please note that if you are a recurring donor, you should have received directions on how to transfer your subscription from Breakthrough Partners. If you did not receive that or have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you give via check, please begin writing them out to Hope for Life. Our new mailing address is:
Hope for Life
PO Box 75864
Seattle, WA 98175
Breakthrough Partners has been gracious and will ensure that any donations that come to them over the next few months will be forwarded to us.
Thank you for your continued support of Hope for Life as we begin a new chapter in our history! It wouldn’t be possible with you.
In Rwanda, after students complete primary school (the equivalent of elementary and middle school), they go to secondary boarding school.
This includes the children who live at HFL’s rehabilitative home. Each year is bittersweet; we celebrate as a family when students continue to progress in school, and yet we also experience sadness when a HFL child graduates to boarding school as we no longer get to see them everyday. This year, two more students moved into secondary and we already feel their absence. Last month, we had a surprise visit from Olivier who came home to give us hugs and share what his new school is like! He is transitioning well and loves his new school!
“This year in school, I was #1 in my class! It makes me happy. My dream is to know modern and traditional dance. I would like to be the best and then get money and help street children like I have been helped. My other dream is to grow up and have a family. I want to be a father and I want to educate my children and class.” Aimable, 10-years-old
Recently, two volunteer staff members and myself had the chance to travel to Rwanda to visit the kids at Hope for Life’s home.
The Hope for Life (HFL) home is not just doing well but is truly thriving! We could sense it the moment we walked onto the beautiful property. Rwanda’s Executive Director, Chantal Umutesi, has built the best staff team HFL has ever had, and each and every child has an inspiring story of transformation. We had the opportunity to sit in on a few of their family devotional times—an experience that was deeply moving for us all. Our volunteer staff, Matthew Aina and Megan Busek, both return home even fiercer advocates for HFL.
I had the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with each member of HFL’s Rwanda-based leadership team, including staff and the Board of Directors. This trip has reaffirmed my conviction that the team there is immensely capable and have much to teach me and HFL’s partners and supporters. Over the past seven years, we have learned that cross-cultural ministry and community-based leadership development comes with a unique set of challenges, and I am thrilled to report that HFL is truly flourishing under Rwandan leadership.
Now more than ever, I am reminded how necessary it is for each of us to personally engage in this life-changing work, no matter which continent we call home. The team in Rwanda is dependent on the financial support and encouragement that you provide each month, while we depend on the expertise that our Rwandan staff brings to the hard work of affecting transformational change in their own community. It is beautiful how the success of HFL is dependent on each of our engagement in this process.
I look forward to sharing more inspiring stories at Hope for Life’s upcoming gala on March 18, 2017 in Mukilteo, Washington. Please consider joining us or giving in lieu of attending the event. We hope you can join us and believe that you will leave encouraged. To buy tickets, please visit www.auctria.com/auction/HopeForLifeAuction2017.
With deep gratitude for your continued partnership,
US Executive Director and Co-Founder
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWS
If you are interested in receiving updates from our team, enter your email. We promise not to share it with anyone else.