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George

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!

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Nashorua

By Project Stories

A blessing to those around her.

Nashorua or as she goes by, ‘Shernice’ is a sixteen year old Kenyan High Schooler in form 2 from Narok, Kenya. Shernice starts her day off at 5am in order to get in a few extra hours of studying before her school starts. She attends Maasi Girls Secondary School from 8am until about 5 or 6pm. Now at this point an average, American high schooler would go home to relax or visit a friends house. For Shernice, she goes to work with her parents.

In order to provide for her large family including 2 brothers and 3 sisters, Shernice helps her father barter around for work. She spends all night helping her father look for work whether that be by taking care of another neighbors animals, helping her mother prepare a meal or taking care of her many siblings. Shernice is a blessing to her family. In fact, her first name, ‘Nashorua,’ means blessings in Swahili. Her life is by no means easy, yet she still serves and loves her family and friends like no other person I know. You wouldn’t be able to tell her circumstances by looking at her as she radiates joy and humility in all that she does. To her, her life is normal. She doesn’t know any different. As I sat down to talk to her about her story, she was so inspiring. She has such a strong faith and delights in her savior’s healing works. She mentioned to me, “God raises up the humble people.” This simple phrase is so significant to her as she truly does not want to be recognized for her actions and hard work. Because she has grown into such a servant at this young age she aspires to ‘be able to help others just as those have done for her.’ She is forever grateful for her sponsorship and so deserving. She has taught me a lot about what it looks like rejoice in being a servant who exemplifies Christ in all that she does. She is a blessing.

To impact more students like Nashorua, sponsor a student today!

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Beatrice

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.

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Samali

By Featured, Project Stories

The healing process of small scale agriculture.

There seems to be something healing about gardening, about using your hands, about working the earth. Maybe we feel like we are connecting to creation in a way that feels right, like it’s the way that it’s meant to be. Perhaps there is something divine about producing, about creating, about caring for the land. Walking through rows of crops, checking each plant, pruning its leaves, watching over, watering and waiting. It’s a rhythm that slows us, that opens us to the movement of God, to God’s movement through the earth, from the seed to the harvest.

For five hours a day, Samali works the land. And it seems like she’s healing.

At 14, Samali became pregnant. Then the father of her child left her. She had no money. Her dad had passed away years ago, and her mother wasn’t helping support her. At 14, Samali had nothing and no idea what to do next.

Then a woman took her into her home and began caring for her and supporting her. She took her to The Hope Venture’s partner, Wakisa Ministries, where she was able to meet other young pregnant women and receive care through her pregnancy. The Hope Venture then gave her the chance to receive vocational training with an organization called Agromax. At 15, Samali graduated from Agromax having learned farming techniques which empowered her to begin a small scale farming operation on a small patch of land. There wasn’ much space, just a small plot tucked away into the hillside, but it now teems with life, overflowing with the fruits of Samali’s labor.

 

Now Samali is spending five hours a day farming. She’s growing tomatoes and jack fruit and corn and cocoa beans, enough to feed herself and her child. She’s dreaming of enough growth to feed her community.

Samali talks about farming like it’s a safe haven, like it’s a breath of fresh air in the midst of a life that has been choking her. She said her favorite thing to do is to water her plants, just to stand there and watch water trickle over the leaves. There’s something healing about routine tasks, about the rhythm of work. Samali is timid—a timidity that comes from wounds– but when she talks about farming she comes alive. Her eyes brighten up and a smile comes to her face. She thinks of it with thankfulness in her eyes. Like it has been a gift of healing to her.

At 16 years old, with a 1 year old child, no family and little money, you’d think her situation would be bleak. But it isn’t. It’s fruitful. It’s beautiful. It’s full and lush. And it’s hopeful. There’s a small hope sprouting out from dry ground.

 

To impact more women like Samali, donate to Agromax today!

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Dilliyammal

By Featured, Project Stories

Fighting for an education and the hope of a better future.

This story is about Dilliyammal. Her family faces a lot of hardship. They live in Chennai, India. They’re very poor. Her dad makes a meager income, and instead of buying food for her and her little brother, he spends it all on alcohol. Dilliyammal’s mom cares a lot about her and her brother. She works when she can as a cleaning lady, trying to make some money to provide, but it’s never enough. They don’t have enough food on the table. They don’t even have a table. The four of them live in a tiny hut made of banana leaves. They all sleep side by side on the dirt floor. They don’t have bedrooms or living rooms or bathrooms. It’s just one room. Their floor functions as the bed, the table, the desk, and sometimes it gets covered in water. They live on the outskirts of town in a flood zone. They often have to trudge through a foot of water to get anywhere–work, grocery store, school, anywhere. They lack adequate shelter, education, food, and work. They lack the things we call basic necessities. On top of that, in their little one room house, Dilliyammal’s father physically abuses her mother.

Dilliyammal and her family outside their home.

Think about what it’s like for this family right now as they are quarantined together in their one room house. The extent of their hardship is difficult to even imagine.

We’ve been pouring out our love for this family wherever we can. We’re feeding Dilliyammal and her brother every day at our feeding center. While there, they have space to work on homework with the help of tutors. They’re getting space for fun, friendship, and mentorship. We also provided backpacks with school supplies for them so they’d have what they need for school.

Dilliyammal and her brother, Shanka, studying on the floor of their home.

We aren’t solving all their problems, but we’re stepping in to help in the ways that we can.

Last year, the family hit a crux. Dilliyammal was about to graduate high school. Which would be huge for the family. Maybe she’d be able to go on and get some more education or get a job, and maybe she’d be able to have a different life than the one she’s always known. Her mom was holding on to that hope. She wanted Dilliyammal to experience something different. But in order to finish high school she had to take exams, and in order to take exams she had to pay, but her family didn’t have enough money. Her mom was trying to save up what she had from cleaning, but she couldn’t do it. As the end of the year approached, desperation set in. Dilliyammal’s mom started to realize that Dillyammal might not be able to take her exams. She began to see her hopes fading away. If she couldn’t get Dilliyammal through her education, she’d have nothing. Dilliyammal would fall right back into the same life, stuck in the same cycle. How would the family ever be able to be free of the difficulties? It was right at that time that the Hope Venture media team was in Chennai. The team met Dilliyammal and her family and spent some time with them at their house. As they were leaving, Dilliyammal’s mom reached out and held onto our photographer’s arm, something that rarely happens. She reached out in desperation and pleaded with her. “Please,” she said, “help me help my kids.”

The Hope Venture was born from witnessing a mother serve dirty water to her kids. The Hope Venture began out of the heart of a mom wanting to help other moms help their kids. So we responded. A scholarship was provided so that Dilliyammal could take her exams and finish school.

This doesn’t fix everything, but this family has fixed their eyes on the hope of a better future, and we’re going to keep coming alongside them to help that hope become a real possibility. Dilliyammal’s going to get an education, and in the midst of such hardships, that is something to rejoice in.

To impact more students like Dilliyamel, donate to our India Scholarship Project today!

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Leon

By Project Stories

The simple, yet essential, gift of a mama kit

In order to give birth at a hospital in Uganda, women are charged a price many can’t afford. For those in poverty, that means they are forced to give birth in unsanitary and unsafe ways. A Mama Kit is an all-in-one kit that contains everything needed to help provide a clean and safe delivery for pregnant women. This summer we visited a slum in Kampala, Uganda where we met a young woman named Leon. Thanks to a Mama Kit we also met Leon’s 5 month old daughter, who she named Lucky. Leon sat on a plastic chair outside her thatched hut while holding Lucky close. It was a simple scene, but one that may not have been possible without a $7 donation. Each one of these Mama Kits counts for something big.

To impact more women like Leon, donate a mama kit today!

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Kavitha

By Featured, Project Stories

The hope of a family and the strength of a daughter.

Hi. My name is Caleb. I was the project manager for The Hope Venture until last August. Normally, I write stories without revealing myself as the author, but I just couldn’t do that with this one. I feel like this story has a gift to give each of us, and I can’t share it without bringing you in to how it has personally been a gift to me.

I think there is a tendency to see the content that The Hope Venture produces (or any non-profit for that matter) as another dose of daily media consumption. You know the trends, we’re constantly consuming media. We listen to it, read it, watch it, scroll through it. We live amidst a seemingly endless barrage of content that we honestly don’t know how to deal with.

I feel that. I’ll be scrolling instagram and I’ll see a photo that is meant to elicit some sort of personal response or engagement, but I will most likely scroll on by. I sometimes find it hard to pause long enough to even read the posts of some of my closest friends. Confession time, I even struggle engaging with The Hope Venture’s posts. And I was projects manager! The problem with this is that I don’t give these stories the time to actually touch me. I don’t give them the chance to reach out and grab ahold of me. I scroll through Instagram at arms length, keeping content just out of reach, and in doing so, I miss out on the reality that these photos are reaching out to me. I miss out on the reality that these photos are not content, not media to be consumed; these photos are real people, real stories.

Normally, the stories I’ve written have come from a personal experience I have had with someone overseas. But last spring I was tasked with writing stories of people I hadn’t met personally. So for the first time, I sat where you normally sit. I sat on the other side of the globe, thousands of miles away from the people in the stories. And it made me long to somehow reach through the screen and shake their hand. It made me want to travel to Africa and India to actually meet these people. Confession time round two, I am often tempted to think that the story won’t be truly impactful if I don’t actually meet them face to face.

And then I met Kavitha.

It was a couple of days after Josh (our Creative Director at The Hope Venture) and his wife Victoria got back from India. We decided to meet up at a coffee shop and talk through some of the stories that impacted them from the trip. I was sitting across from Victoria at one of those big work tables. Laptops were out, mugs were full, and they began to tell me about the people they met. 

Victoria began to tell me about Kavitha. She gave the details: Kavitha is a 7th grader, she lives in the village of Selaiyur, she is the youngest in her family, she’s the only one going to school. She got a backpack through The Hope Venture backpack project. It felt like we were going through the motions, like the details of her life story were just facts that writers and creative directors need to sift through in order to produce relevant content so that people will donate to the backpack project. And then, catching me off guard, Victoria explained that Kavitha’s parents were born blind while simultaneously spinning her laptop around to show me a photo of Kavitha standing between her parents.

Kavitha’s gaze pierced through the screen. And there, at the big work table, Kavitha’s story reached out and grabbed me. Her eyes, a piercing look of determination. She stood facing forward with confidence and humility, holding her parents’ hands as their eyes avoid the camera. Her eyes seem to say, “I’ve got this.” 

In that moment, I felt the power of story. I realized how much more there is behind the photo, how much the story matters. In order to see that this photo is not just another dose of media for our daily consumption, we need to learn the story behind it. For I will tell you, Kavitha’s story is not asking for a double tap and a digital heart. It is asking for your hands to be open, because her story is a gift. Her story is one that reaches out and holds open hands.

Kavitha is a 7th grader who lives in poverty in a village in India. Her parents’ blindness not only inhibits them from working and providing for the family, but it also ostracizes and outcasts them. Her father recently had a heart attack and now has trouble even moving around. Her older sister gave up school so that Kavitha wouldn’t have to. She was given a backpack and school supplies. She’s given a daily meal at The Hope Venture’s feeding center. Everyone is pulling for her, doing all they can to ensure she gets an education. She’s the hope of the family, the light in their darkness. And now she looks forward at the path ahead, the path that is complex and scary and difficult. The path that is far too much for a 7th grader to have to handle. And I’m thinking, she must feel the weight. She must feel the pressure. For she walks to school with far more than the weight of her backpack on her shoulders. 

Yet Victoria tells me that Kavitha walks not as one burdened with the weight of the world. She walks with the strength not only to hold herself, but to hold her parents’ too. She’s confident, humble, and sweet. She has a big smile. Even though she’s the youngest, she’s clearly leading her family. Victoria simply said, “she’s incredible.” 

And that’s what I see when I look at this photo. I see someone who is incredible. 

She looks through the camera like she’s trying to look into my eyes. Like she’s trying to look through the lens into the eyes of everyone in the world. Like she’s trying to use her eyes, her beautiful eyes, to see. And to be seen herself. It’s a passageway into her story, the story of a girl who has never been seen. The story of a girl who does her homework in the dark because her parents don’t need a light in their hut. The story of a girl who is the youngest in her family but the only one with a chance at an education. The story of a girl who makes tea for her guests, but places the tea in her mother’s hand so she can have the dignity of hosting someone. The story of a girl who holds onto her parents hands to guide them. The story of a girl who holds onto her parents hands to be guided. The story of a girl who holds onto her parents hands for dear life because she is only a 7th grader in a world that is far too complex and far too difficult to navigate alone. And yet she looks through the camera like she’s saying, “I’ve got this.” She stands, hand in hand with a mother and father who have never seen her, with a backpack on her back and the weight of life heavy on her shoulders. And in the midst of this, she looks through the camera, across the globe, and into our eyes and says, “You’ve got this too.”

Kavitha deserves to be seen. Her story is not a collection of details and facts to be placed in an Instagram post. Her story is living and active and full of power. Her story is an inspiration, a gift, an arm outstretched. Her story is a picture of light in darkness, of love in difficulty, of hope in despair, of strength in weakness. She holds her parents hands, and in doing so, she gives us hope that all the hands of the world are being held too. That our hands, our fearful, frail, and failing hands, are being held too. 

Her journey teaches us that we can walk through difficult things, really difficult things. Sitting there at that coffee shop I felt like Kavitha gave me strength. I felt like she reached out to me and told me there is light in this dark world. I felt like she asked me if I see her.

And that’s my hope. My hope is that she’d be seen. My hope is that this photo would not be another photo we scroll past. Another bit of content as our thumbs do our daily dose of despairing. For Kavitha is incredible. And her story is a gift. Her hands are reaching out as an invitation to walk through life, even in all its difficulty and complexity. 

So I think it is important to break through the fourth wall of sorts and tell you that though I have never met Kavitha in person, I see her. And I want to say, her story is important enough to allow it to impact us. It is important enough to stop me in my tracks. It is real enough to change my life. For she is not a photo in a catalog, she is a person, a real, incredible, human who has and is making an impact in this world, and she’s inviting us to join her.

To impact more students like Kavitha, donate a backpack today!

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Jonathan

By Project Stories

A father’s fight to provide nourishment for his child.

Goats are provided for impoverished families located in the drought-ridden area of southwestern Kenya. This region is home to the Maasai tribe, a people group characterized by their awesome, brightly colored robes (typically called “shukas”), their beautiful jewelry, and their fun chants. The Maasai live as herders, but drought has scorched the land, leaving very little vegetation for cattle, causing widespread poverty throughout the region. In the midst of this, goats have proven to be surprisingly resilient. Unlike other livestock, they feed off leaves and are able to survive even during times of drought. This is huge for a family that doesn’t have a way to sustain itself. The goat produces milk for their children, who without it are susceptible to malnutrition. This summer we talked to a man named Jonathan who shared with us how the goat has helped sustain his 2 year old son, Barak.

Jonathan spoke of the goat like it was an absolute game changer for him and his family. Also, many of the goats have babies and the increased milk supply can be sold. That income can then be used for clothing and school fees for the family. We hope you understand that your support is not a small thing, it is huge. Even one goat is a life-changing gift.

To impact more families like Jonathan’s, give a goat today!

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Abraham

By Featured, Project Stories

A beautiful picture of love multiplying out from Kenya’s largest slum.

Outside the sky is flooded with rosy hues of orange and red as the sun makes its nightly retreat below the horizon. Dust floats lazily through the warm dry air as the evening hubbub that stirred it up slowly dies down. You however aren’t full of warmth and you don’t feel particularly rosy. Your life here in Kibera, the largest slum in East Africa, would more accurately be described as difficult, dangerous, and hopeless, and the setting of the sun means it’s time to get inside quick or risk a run in with one of the gangs in the area. This harrowing place is made all the more difficult by the reality that many of the children who are raised here don’t have the opportunity to continue their schooling past eighth grade, making the barriers keeping them from a better life almost insurmountable. 

This is home for Abraham Ndung’u, a high school student now just a few months from graduating thanks to the student sponsorship program from The Hope Venture.

Growing up his friends were much like him, without realistic hopes of going to high school, on a trajectory towards a future of drugs and alcohol as they tried to cope with the stress of living in this place. But then Abraham met Cynci and Elijah, and he got sponsored.

He was going to be able to go to high school and the pressure that school fees were putting on his aunt, with whom he lives, was gone. Abraham met some new friends, worked hard in school, and started making decisions outside of it to put his future on a different trajectory. Some of his old friends tried to follow him down this new path while others stuck to their ways. Some of those that didn’t follow have passed away after being sucked into the mire of drug addiction, a tragic path Abraham believes he would have continued down if not for The Hope Venture. If not for his sponsorship Abraham believes he would be six feet under, but instead he’s on the verge of graduating high school and giving back to local children through a weekend program called Edmond Rice Camp. He gathers street kids to play games, learn, and explore and develop their talents, helping them to better themselves and stay out of the trouble that swallows up so many unsuspecting youths in the area.

Abraham’s life is a beautiful picture of the way acts of love can multiply, he received love from The Hope Venture and now he’s giving of himself to help others find the hope that he now has.

To impact more students like Abraham, sponsor a student today!

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Kokal

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!

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