All Posts By

Cynci Petersen


By Project Stories

A legacy that empowered.

It was raining when we arrived. We wound through a few roads where there were some simple cement homes, nothing fancy. We got out and walked down an alley. Our partner took a right and I wasn’t sure exactly where, since much of it looked the same. I got about to where he had been and looked into a small doorframe of a home inquisitively, as if to say, “is this where my friend just went?” A woman giggled at me and motioned to the next house. I went there but had the same hesitation, “is this the one?” And up the steps someone motioned me forward excitedly. “Yes! This way! Come. Come.”

Up the steps and around the corner opened to a small room where some food was cooking. Past that was another room with lots of children… boys sitting on the floor on one side and girls on the other and a tutor behind them all. They stood and cheered. “Welcome ma’am, hello. Welcome. Sit, sit.”

They were excited to see us. They had a presentation prepared for us and wanted to get right to it. A handful of us had just arrived, some for the first time to India, and all of a sudden children were quickly saying all the things they had prepared.

“Hello, I am Thulasi. Welcome to Kurumbar Padi. I have two brothers and one sister.” (Or did she say one brother and one sister? And did she say something else in between there? Some people were still sitting down. Our eyes and ears and hearts were still adjusting to the setting we were in). “And what is your dream,” someone asked. “To be an artist. I want to be an artist like my father.”

The next one started. Then the next. And we got to the boys. And they said theirs. And then one boy stood up and added. “I like to draw. I would like to be an artist.”

Someone pointed back to the first girl, Thulasi. Yes they are brother and sister. They drew these photos on the wall. Wow those are beautiful.

The program went on. Each one sharing. Then a skit… turned out to be the Good Samaritan which seems to be a great skit and lesson in any language. The kids enjoyed pretending to beat up their friend, then ignore him, then help him. Giggles and mistakes and the caring ending.

Then there were dances and speeches and there was Thulasi again, the girl from the beginning, standing up strong and brave to give the longest speech yet. It was about giving dignity to both girls and boys, an appeal to educate both men and women, a reflection on the lack of opportunity women can face in India.

And she’s right. She’s only maybe 15 years old but she sees the disparity. She wants a chance, for herself and for all girls. And she was proudly declaring it in both her speech and in her demeanor. She knew her own dignity.

I wondered where her confidence came from. Many in poverty struggle, feeling less than, feeling not as valuable, feeling shame. It’s not true. We all have value and dignity, but we might not know it. That’s partly why The Hope Venture exists. In Thulasi’s village we run a feeding center and tutor the kids after school to give them some extra help. We want them to have a chance like everyone else. We want them to find hope and love. We want them to have the opportunity to rise above. Many are orphans or have been rejected by their dads and mostly can barely afford food, let alone school supplies. So life is tough and shame and heartbreak is often the norm.

But Thulasi was different. She was so strong, such a leader. And I’d like to tell you it was because of our center in her village. But our center is pretty new and she’s had this strength for awhile. She was contagiously spreading it to the kids at our center but her strength didn’t come from us. Even God, who I believe she loves, is not the only answer to her hope and strength. No, God had provided someone else to teach her this, if even for a short time. It began to make sense as soon as I saw her home.

She lived right across from the feeding center. She held my hand and urged me to come, pulling me and smiling. “Please ma’am come.” I stepped down a narrow passageway, tucked my head down to avoid what was hanging, then turned the corner. Already the garden with mangos and roses told a different story than the rainy, dreary day I was in. I took my shoes off and one more step into the house now and ahhhhh. The love. The beauty. The drawings on the wall. The fish tank- I don’t see many of those here. Then the photo frame of a man. I met her mom and brothers and sister and cousins and then was told, “yes, this was my father, he died six years ago. He was an artist.” The drawings on the wall were partly his, but partly several kids’ drawing as well.

Legacy. Love. Leadership. Thulasi had a dad that loved her, that inspired her, that was her hero. And it made all the difference in her life. She wanted to be just like him, follow in his footsteps. Draw like him. Draw for him. Carry on his honor.

It was refreshing in a village of extreme poverty to find a man who had not abandoned, not neglected, not rejected… and to find a daughter who was strong and confident, who knew who she was and who she wanted to be, who was leading her peers to do the same, and who was even advocating to the adults to hear their voices, to honor their dreams.

A moment for me that started with rain and muddy steps and narrow passageways, opened up to dreams and beauty and hope. May Thulasi have what she needs to carry her banner far and wide. May we grant her the respect she deserves. May her dad somehow even rest in peace, knowing his legacy lives on and his love mattered.

To impact more students like Thulasi, donate to our India Feeding Centers today!



By Project Stories

Mac-n-cheese, a computer, and so much more…

I met Jacqueline on my first trip to Rwanda. The Hope Venture was exploring the idea of starting some Pilot Projects in the capital city of Kigali. We were outside the offices of Acts4Rwanda, where dozens of school children were gathering for a daily meal provided by the organization. Jacqueline was serving the younger children and I hopped in next to her to scoop up some food… I think maybe she was passing out some cookies and I was scooping mac-n-cheese?😊

Anyway, Jacqueline and I got to talk. She was friendly and had dreams of going to college. She had been sponsored by Acts4Rwanda up through high school but now wasn’t sure what was going to happen since their sponsorship ends after high school. Her housing was going to be a big challenge. And she needed a computer if she was going to continue in science. And tuition was of course on her mind. It was all daunting. Meanwhile though, kids were coming up to us wanting food and, well, all this money and college-dreams stuff would have to wait.

Our team came back home and started praying more about what to do.

For the year previous, we had been revamping our project strategy. We had worked with the same partners overseas since The Hope Venture had started. If we ever started something new, it was because someone like our partner Charlie in India would get his heart wrecked by some need, share it with me (Cynci), we’d talk in the clouds and a little on paper, pray, and go for it. We tried to document things or explain our reasoning, but honestly we were growing so fast that we got behind on the paperwork. It got harder and harder to understand what we were doing. Meanwhile we wanted to replicate some of it, or stop some of it, but we couldn’t articulate why. So for a whole year the staff questioned me, wrote things down, questioned me again, wrote more down, questioned Charlie, and all our partners, and started to document clearly what we were doing, where we were going, and how we could grow.

One huge change from that year was a goal to vett 20 new partners over the next five years. Ahhh! Talk about daunting! We had trusted partners, longtime friends who we worked with. How would we grow that trust with new people?

Well we had to try.

Covid had led to extreme poverty rising around the world for the first time in twenty years. People were hurting, hungry, and hopeless. Yet God’s hand was on us and He was using us to bring hope and dignity to some of the most disadvantaged people in the world. We longed to press into that even more and watch God bring His overwhelming love rushing over more and more souls.

So we set out to explore some new partnerships. We made a new Pilot Project strategy where we would start out small, make sure reporting requirements were met, grow it bit by bit, and over time, we’d have some new trusted partners. That’s why we were in Rwanda. One of our board members had a friend of a friend, and there we were.

We told Acts4Rwanda we couldn’t do much to start. That we’d have to start small. How small? Well it turned out that one scholarship would have to do.


Yep, Jacqueline was The Hope Venture’s first ever Pilot Project recipient.

We prayed and collaborated with Acts4Rwanda. They liked how we were having success with our college scholarships in Kenya. They were sponsoring kids through high school, just like we were in Kenya, but then had no way to help them after that. We created a thorough Project Plan document and got back to signing memorandums of understanding. We articulated clear reporting requirements and reviewed the project 6 months in. Then in 2022 we were able to add four more students, and just recently, our Projects Team approved them for 15 students in 2023!

Jacqueline’s dad was in a bad accident five years ago. Her mom was in jail for a couple years. Life’s been hard. But Acts4Rwanda has come alongside her and her siblings to help and now The Hope Venture is here too. God does see and know our burdens. He can bring people together from across the globe… to bring hope, to provide a computer and housing, to feel His love, even to get some mac-n-cheese and a cookie. ❤️


By Project Stories

The journey to support his family and the relief of a goat.

George had a big grin when I met him. He spoke remarkably good English, so we talked a lot as we walked. He wore a plaid shuka around his shoulders, standard for a Massai man here. He shared of his struggles, of his hopes, and of how he and his wife Emily got a goat for the first time this year.

George’s mom got cancer a few years back, a brain tumor, and then she passed away in 2019. The loneliness of that was as fresh as if it were yesterday. He missed his mom. It was written all over him. Perhaps it was because he loved her. Perhaps it was because it was just so scary to think about what would need to happen next. George has five younger siblings, the youngest of which was 3 when his mom died, and now he needed to care for all of them. The pressure to take care of these kids was a lot for a young 24-year-old man.

He started a boda boda business, which in Kenya means he was like a taxi driver on a motorcycle. People got rides on the back of his bike to go anywhere they wanted, but when the Coronavirus hit, people could no longer ride on the back of a motorcycle with a stranger. Very quickly there was no income. How would he survive? He had so many people to take care of. And to add to everything at the time, his wife was pregnant with their first baby (they now have a 6-month-old son).

He, like so many others, had to get creative about what to do. They live near a forested area (well, not the Amazon jungle type of forest, more like the barren brier-filled type of forest) so he began collecting wood and figured out how to sell it. He’s getting by, but when he got a goat from The Hope Venture, it was a huge relief. Every little bit helps and this goat would provide milk for the family. This was especially helpful for the new baby, as the milk provides good nutrition. I could see the hope it brought him.

The grave of his mom was nearby and we went out and prayed for George and his family.

He told me that maybe now God was bringing other blessings into his life. He was touched that someone he had never met from across the globe would provide a goat for him and his family. While nothing could replace the loss of his mom, he could see that there were other people, other acts of kindness, that were reminding him God was still there, still caring for him. It was in his eyes- hope. And it was beautiful.

To impact more families like George’s, donate to our Goat Project today!



By Project Stories

How a mix-up at a school is now changing lives all over Kenya.

She’s doing WHAAAT now?? She’s working for WHO??

I met Beatrice 10 years ago and had no idea back then what I would know now.

In fact, we weren’t even supposed to meet. We were looking for Eunice Kuyioni, not Beatrice Kuyioni. But when our Hope Venture team (ie, back then it was just two of us, me and Meghan) asked to meet her, the Deputy Principal of the school brought the wrong girl. Our partner found out and was embarrassed and had no idea what to say right in front of Beatrice. So after we left her, after telling her we were so excited to sponsor her, he confessed that the Principal got it wrong and asked what to do. At that time we were sponsoring only a handful of people. This was a big mistake. We didn’t have extra money; we barely could fund the others.

Beatrice grew up in a single-parent family.  Her father died when she was young. She can’t even remember her father. Her older brother and sister managed to finish high school with the help of the community. Their family had nothing except a piece of land. She was in public school for elementary school but the fees for secondary school became unmanageable. At that was the time, her older brother committed suicide due to some of the family problems. This was devastating because he had received an education and was to be the breadwinner and support them all, but now he was gone too. Beatrice could feel the hopelessness. How could both her father and older brother be gone? What were they to do?

That was right before she met Meghan and I.

We didn’t even know this whole story back then. We just couldn’t stand the thought of telling her she wasn’t sponsored… and while that’s not great reasoning for an organization to begin a sponsorship, we decided to ask God to raise up a sponsor for Beatrice. And He did.

I can say that’s the only time that’s happened. But I can’t say now that it was really a mistake. I feel so thankful to get to be a part of Beatrice’s life. You see now, ten years later, after finishing high school and college, Beatrice works for The Hope Venture as part of our Student Sponsorship Team. That’s right, she helps kids just like herself.

As we celebrate 11 years as The Hope Venture this month, I’m reminded of our humble beginnings. We worked in a basement. We didn’t do it all perfectly. But we trusted God one step at a time. And now people like Beatrice have seen God be faithful and so are turning around to spread that joy to someone else. Pretty stinkin’ awesome if you ask me.

To impact more students like Beatrice, donate to College Scholarships.



By Project Stories

The gift of and education and the desire to give back

Kokal, with her beautiful smile and soft-spoken demeanor, is second to last in a family of seven children living in Rangpuri. Her parents were virtually forced to move their family into the city of Delhi, like so many others, in search of work. Her father had incurred much debt trying to survive with his family in the village, so leaving was the only option. Kokal said that once they arrived in Rangpuri that she and her family experienced many days and nights without food and so her parents began to pick through the garbage to find what they could to sustain her and her siblings. When she was five years old her parents were approached by Anuja, a partner of the Hope Venture who was starting a school just around the corner from their little shack. She offered to not only educate Kokal, but to also provide all of the supplies she would need for the entire year. Education is not a priority when survival itself is your greatest stress, so the idea of pursuing an education for any of their children had not been a possibility before. But now, this gift of an education has given Kokal hope… the hope of a different life and the drive to make a difference.

Kokal is now 13 years old and has received more education than any one else in her family. She remembers how excited she was to start to learn the ABC’s in both Hindi and English. Her test scores are very high and she has grown into a quiet and well-spoken leader amongst her peers. As a child she witnessed those who were supposed to protect her community either just not care, or use their authority in destructive ways. She now aspires to become a police officer so that she can go back into the slum and “Stop the wrong doings in society and change it for good.”

To impact more students like Kokal, donate to our Delhi Schools today!