Archives For Staff / Travels

When I heard that a whole generation of economic progress could be lost because of COVID-19, what might have been an abstract concept felt personal.

Like kids across the country, my first grader, Addi, spent this spring learning from home. One assignment had her interviewing a family member, and she chose her grandpa: my dad. She carefully printed questions in her notebook—using her best phonetic spelling—and as FaceTime connected, I settled in to hear the stories I remember hearing as a child: my dad and his brothers chasing each other across farm fields, dad knocking an aggressive farm goose senseless in self-defense, his exasperated mother shooing six boys out of her kitchen with a rolling pin—or whatever else was handy.

Addi and I giggled over several of these same stories, but hearing them as an adult, many were tinged with a sadness and struggle I hadn’t remembered. Like when my dad told Addi about his family’s two-seater outhouse, how the brothers competed to be first in line for a weekly bath so the tub water would still be clean, how glasses of water turned to ice on bedside tables in the wintertime, how his parents saved every bit of extra money to buy each boy a second-hand bicycle one Christmas, how they rarely visited a doctor, and how his parents buried their only daughter and a son before their fifth birthdays.

It dawned on me: Not in a faraway country or too long ago, my dad grew up in poverty. Continue Reading…

by Colton Parks, Communications Fellow (HOPE Rwanda)

Everyone has their way of describing the unique times we find ourselves in today. For me, like many, the word is uncertain.

Uncertainty underlies my thoughts about job security, schools re-opening, the timeline for the virus spread to wane, the stock market, and a host of other facets of life I previously took for granted. I feel uncertain about what this pandemic means, and that feeling is present when I fall asleep, and it’s there when I wake up.

A few months ago, I was in a village called Mugina, visiting savings group members and hearing their stories. My third interview of the day was with a woman named Speciose. After greeting us, she guided us gently down a hill to her home, a small building nestled in the shadow of a much larger structure that was without a roof. The larger, open-air home stood empty, a shell of a house, exposed to the rain and wind. Almost a year before, a storm had pried off the entire roof and sent it flying, and the smaller house had served as a temporary shelter for Speciose and her husband ever since. Continue Reading…

by Robert Gonza, Quality Assurance Officer (HOPE Rwanda)

When I started working with HOPE Rwanda, I didn’t know if I believed in savings groups.

My job in quality assurance includes interacting with our field partner staff, training them about quality assurance processes like reporting documents, attending monthly mentoring meetings, and visiting and encouraging saving groups. I enjoyed my job and my team, but I was not always very sure how savings groups were transforming people’s lives.

Almost anyone you ask at HOPE Rwanda will be quick to share the statistics of how the saving groups are transforming lives—how many families we serve, how much they’ve saved, the number of cows, goats, and pigs they’ve purchased with their savings. Three years later, I now myself could share all these things. And I thought that the numbers were the most important things about these savings groups.

But I was wrong. They are about way more than just the savings, the number of loans, or those who attended the meeting—or pigs or cows. Continue Reading…

Traditions abound at Christmas time. Though each family celebration is unique, we wanted to offer a glimpse into how those served by the HOPE network around the world may be joining together with family, friends, and neighbors to rejoice in Christ’s arrival. We marvel at the beauty of so many countries and cultures celebrating the gift of Jesus’ birth and invite you to pause and reflect on the meaning behind your own familiar traditions. Continue Reading…

by Anna Hofmann, Writing and Research Intern (’19)

As a college student, having an internship feels mandatory. Maybe you’ve felt pressure to believe this at some point.

Internships can be beneficial and formative opportunities, whether you’re looking to gain experience within a certain field or if you’re simply looking to inform and direct career plans.

Here’s my experience: the deeper value of my HOPE internship was more than my day-to-day tasks. Continue Reading…

by Aspen Pflughoeft, HOPE Trips participant

How do you make your senior year of high school memorable? Perhaps an epic prank day? Senior skip day? Well, I was able to take a different approach: a HOPE trip to meet savings groups in Comas, Peru (pictured above), with my family. When we departed, I had two weeks of classes left. But my dad, who had been on a HOPE trip the previous fall, recognized the immense value in exposing me and my sisters to different languages and communities. Through ten days in Peru, I learned incredible lessons that, a year and a half later, have changed the way I live. Continue Reading…