By Uncategorized

A blessing in Mathare.

I was sitting at a coffee shop with a friend, days before I flew out to travel overseas with The Hope Venture, sharing what I was excited about and what I was anticipating. I told her I was nervous about the hard stories I was going to hear throughout our travels. You see, I was going to be on a team of four women visiting The Hope Venture’s projects, and my job was to interview people who had been impacted by the projects and document their stories. It was a dream role for me, but also one that I was preparing to be hard on my heart.

Sitting at the table, my friend listened intently and then responded. “Carli, my prayer for you is that the people you meet and the stories you hear would actually be healing for you, instead of hurtful to your heart.”

My jaw dropped. It was profound, opposite of how I was thinking, and such a picture of the hope we try to bring as an organization. Not only that, but it was also a bigger picture of the hope found in Jesus. It was the idea that people are not stuck in their circumstances, bound by a dead end, with their identity cemented as a hard, heavy story. But instead, that there is hope and light and opportunity… there is healing ahead. I loved her response. I tucked it away in my heart and went overseas.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was in Mathare, Kenya, the second-largest slum in the country, located in the capital city. We were visiting one of our student sponsorship projects there, and I was with a group on our way to one of the students’ houses to interview her. Her name was Yvonne, and she could light up a room with her eyes and smile. Yvonne stood out to me and I was excited to get to know her more.

It was about a 40 minute walk through Mathare to get to her house, filled with climbing steep hills, shimmying down narrow passageways, and rounding unexpected corners. Finally, we climbed our last hill and got to Yvonne’s house, positioned so high up you could look out and see the community of Mathare as a whole.

We entered the small house behind us, and her grandma was there welcoming us with chai tea and open arms. I sat shoulder-to-shoulder with Yvonne on the loveseat, and the others crowded into the room and onto the remaining furniture.

Yvonne was 16, the second of five kids, and had lived with her loving, wise grandmother since she was young, along with the rest of her siblings. Her parents weren’t in the picture, and when I asked if she wanted to talk about it, she shook her head no.

I asked Yvonne what life was like before she got sponsored. “Life was challenging,” she replied in her beautiful Kenyan accent. Yvonne’s grandma didn’t work, and therefore couldn’t provide the necessary fees for school. Yvonne spent most of her time at home, and would have to play catch-up whenever she did return to school… a tough cycle that’s not very conducive to learning.

She remembered Fanuel, The Hope Venture’s trusted local partner, calling her and some of the other students to the church on just a normal day—but didn’t tell them why. When they got there, Fanuel told them that they had all been sponsored by The Hope Venture, and she said to me, “I was so, so happy.” Sweet tears filled her eyes as she shared the story. It’s a big deal to be sponsored and the burden of school fees to be lifted.

I asked her what her dreams were now that she was sponsored, and she said after she finishes school, she’d like to go to university to study accounting AND law. She dreams of taking her family to another level and wants to build them a mansion one day, with dark purple walls and red flowers outside.

We were needing to wrap up our conversation and I asked if there was anything else she wanted to say about her story that would make her feel known. She responded, “I would just like to say thank you, because you’ve proven to me that I can achieve my dreams, impact the community at large and also change other children from families like mine. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Just because you come from a poor family doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your dreams.”

Wow. Suddenly I was the one with tears in my eyes. She was right, and I felt like my heart had just been blessed by her. The conversation with my friend at the coffee shop rushed to the forefront of my mind: “Carli, my prayer for you is that the people you meet and the stories you hear would actually be healing for you, instead of hurtful to your heart.” I felt like Yvonne was an answer to that prayer. Here she was, in one of the largest slums in Kenya, in poverty, and yet was living in a house on a hill overlooking that slum, with dreams for a big career, getting her family out, and helping other people like her. She wasn’t stuck, she was on the move. It was such a picture of hope and healing, and it spilled out from her and impacted me. Beautiful.

To impact more students like Yvonne, donate to our Student Sponsorship Project today!



By Uncategorized

Cultivating life through the soil.

Stella first came into contact with Wakisa Ministries when she was only 17. 

She had a newborn son. Her options were limited. 

She knew that she would no longer be able to return to school and receive a formal education, meaning that chances of future employment were slim and she would have few means to support herself or her child. There was little hope in her life, and it would have been easy for her to give up and accept the meager cards that life had dealt her.

But Stella has a fire in her. In her previous vocational training through Wakisa Ministries, she displayed an eagerness to learn and grow despite her circumstances. When the opportunity to be sponsored through the Agricultural Skills Training Program at Agromax opened up, she readily took it. 

Through the Agromax program, The Hope Venture and Wakisa Ministries hope to replace the cycle of poverty and pain with a cycle of cultivation. We believe that by investing in and teaching young mothers how to first cultivate the earth, they can successfully cultivate others — affecting change in whole communities and helping to sow hope where there once was none.

Throughout the agricultural skills training program, Stella has displayed strength and determination, as well as exhibited the keen desire to always improve her skills. She has been able to receive counseling and support from Wakisa Ministries staff, which has further enabled her to excel in her studies. Not only did her firm persistence help her to graduate from Agromax earlier this year, it has also given her the opportunity to intern in the same program — during which she will be provided with shelter, clothing, and food for her and her son. Now 21, Stella will be responsible for operating over ten greenhouses after her internship is complete.

Despite her current success, Stella still has hopes and aspirations that reach far into the future. Not only does she dream of being able to run her own farm one day, she hopes to eventually return to her hometown of Entebbe to teach agriculture to other members of her community. She wishes to help to restore hope to hurting young mothers just as hope has been restored to her — to empower other women as she has been empowered.

Stella is living proof that sponsorship through the Agromax program does not only affect change in the life of one young mother. It has empowered her to create a better life for her, her child, and her family. It has empowered her to transform from a woman who had the desire to flourish but was never given the opportunity to, into a woman who now has the ability to cultivate hope in the lives of those around her. 

To impact more women like Stella, donate to our Agromax Project today!



By Uncategorized

More than just a job.

Just when I get used to the work we do at The Hope Venture and think of it as a regular job, I get hit with the story of someone overseas whose life has been changed because of our work. And it becomes real again.

It becomes not just going to a job and scheduling social media posts. Not just attending meetings and answering Slack messages. It becomes an urgent, life saving, life giving mission to be part of something greater than myself. A mission to help my neighbor overseas, because there’s a person out there, and she needs my help, and my efforts matter. They really do count. They really do change things.

I came across Ivy Shilalo’s story, and it made me have this moment of realization. It boiled my world down from being overwhelmed by the masses to focusing on the one. Here’s the story of Ivy:

She’s 18-years-old, from Narok, Kenya, and is in Form 3, which translates to being a junior in high school.

She’s the third of six kids. 

Her dad left when she was young, and her mom owned a school, but sold it to pay school fees to another institution.

Before she was sponsored, Ivy was in and out of school. To try and help with that, she worked at a hotel, but it closed at 10pm and it was too dangerous for her to be out that late.

Then she found Nasha Ministries, the organization in Kenya that The Hope Venture partners with to sponsor high school students. When she found out she was getting sponsored, she said that she knew her dreams were going to be accomplished. Now she’s studying business and English, her two favorite subjects in school.

She knows Jesus, and she praises Him. She says, “He has made the impossible, possible. He has always been there. When we were hungry, He provided.” She says that Jesus and Nasha changed her life, and it feels like they have given her hope.

She found encouragement and refreshment at The Hope Venture summer camp this year. She found hope in places where she thought, “this thing can’t happen.” She says she feels the dignity that we as an organization talk about.

Let me say that again. I want this to be made real for you, like it was made real for me. She says she feels the dignity that we talk about. Our mission statement is, “We’re on an adventure to bring hope and dignity to the most disadvantaged people in the world.” As a staff member on the marketing team, that saying is etched into my mind. I can spit it out on command and say it in my sleep. But man, it’s not just a well-crafted line of marketing copy. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. And the mission statement comes out of that, not just something that feels and sounds good. And for a real human to say that she feels that, wow. That’s what we do. It’s not “normal” work. It’s not just clocking in and out of a job. We get to reach across the world and link arms with someone like Ivy, and walk with her along her journey. Side by side, human to human, together. And you can do that too when you partner with The Hope Venture and donate to a project. It supports real lives and creates real change. We get to do that, and I just think it’s the coolest thing.

To impact more students like Ivy, donate to our Student Sponsorship Project today!



By Uncategorized

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

I think there’s something really special about the projects The Hope Venture does. Who knew a goat could bring security to a family, a backpack hope to a student, and an agriculture program purpose to a young mother. The needs these projects meet seem simple, but really, they’re life-changing.

Meet Gloria. She’s currently eighteen, the mother of one, living with her grandma, and about to begin her dream of farming her own plot of land. However, her life wasn’t always this way. It was through pain, loss, and a prayer that she got to where she is now.

Her story starts with being an orphan, becoming pregnant, losing her closest friends, and being asked by her grandma to move out and find another home. On the brink of Gloria being homeless, her uncle stepped in and took her to Wakisa Ministries, a center and safehaven for pregnant women in Uganda.

Gloria was welcomed there and taught a skill; tailoring. It seems simple, but she excelled at the craft and even sewed Vivian, Wakisa Ministries Director, a dress. When Gloria returned home from Wakisa, now as a mother with her one-year-old son, she had dreams of being able to attend school and receive training and education, but she knew there was no way that could happen, given her circumstances. Gloria prayed about it, and boy did God come through for His daughter.

Gloria was able to interview at Agromax, a partner with The Hope Venture that provides a 6-month agriculture program for women, and was accepted into the school in 2020. She’s been learning incredible skills, like how to treat soil, use fertilizers, and she’s even growing her very own tomatoes and sweet peppers in the school’s greenhouse. She’s been taken in and given a skill that will be able to sustain her and her little one. She’s been treated with respect. She’s been given a shot at a beautiful future for her and her child.

And what’s even better, Gloria’s uncle has a ¼ acre of land that he plans to let her farm a small portion of once she’s done in the Agromax program. She’ll be able to live out her dreams now, and with her tailoring and agriculture skills, the sky’s her limit.

To impact more women like Gloria, donate to our Agromax Project today!



By Uncategorized

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.


By Uncategorized

Her dad lies at home, unable to move. Day after day, he lies on the floor of their hut. He doesn’t get up to eat, he doesn’t get up to go to work, he doesn’t get up. He’s paralyzed.

This is not a story told in past tense. Today, Priya’s dad lies on the floor of their hut, unable to move. That’s what he’s doing at this moment.

He used to be an auto-rickshaw driver, but he got in an accident. He had to have a rod placed in his leg, but that treatment backfired and ended up causing him to be paralyzed from the waist down. His family doesn’t have enough money to help him at this point, so he has nowhere to go.

This is Priya’s story. This is her life. She belongs to a poor family in a village called Kakkallur. Her mom works until 10 at night, bringing home a couple dollars every day. Priya recalls looking for scraps of paper in the trash to rip off and use at school as notebook paper.

That’s the kind of thing that gets laid to the wayside when there isn’t enough money to go around. Notebook paper is not as important as the small amount of food your hard earned money can buy. So Priya’s education took a hit.


When we think of helping the poor, we often think of the grand scale, the big problems: World hunger, the water crisis, sickness, oppression. We don’t always think about the girl who is searching through trash cans for paper because she just wants to learn but doesn’t have the money for a notebook.

But think about it. If you saw some child searching for paper in a trash can, you’d easily step in and say, “A notebook? That’s all you need? Oh, easy, I can get you a notebook.” And that’s why we do what we do. Because real life change can come through something as simple as that.

We often forget that sometimes simply showing a child that they matter is the most important thing we can do. To kids like Priya we want to say, “We see you. We notice you. You matter. We see your hunger for an education. We see your desire to dream. We see your fire, and we want to stoke it.” We believe that stepping in where we can is what we must do. If we see children searching trash cans for notebook paper, we want to give them notebooks. And what we’re noticing is that the more we step in and stoke these kids fire for an education, the more they are supported to succeed. The less their education takes a hit.

The Hope Venture’s partner, Sam, noticed Priya. He has been coming to visit her and her family to pray with them. He gave her a backpack with school supplies. And now we’re watching Priya’s education benefit. She has a scholarship to a good school and she is excited about writing. She still giggles when she thinks about how excited she was to receive a notebook and some pens.

When life seems to be nothing but despair, a notebook and a pen can be enough hope to change everything.


By Uncategorized

A need deeper than money.

When we go to Kenya we take time to sit down with the students we sponsor so that we can hear their story. One of the questions we ask many of the students is, “What was the biggest challenge facing you in your life?” A lot of students talk about their lack of money and their inability to pay for school. It almost feels like the right answer to give a non-profit who helps sponsor students.

But Kelvin said, “I didn’t know how to understand myself, and I felt very alone.”

Do you hear his cry from within? This little boy was confused. He had trouble finding himself. Trouble understanding himself. The turmoil wasn’t just in what was happening around him. It wasn’t just in the death of both of his parents. It wasn’t just in the displacement, in the ripping of his land. It wasn’t just in his inability to go to school. The turmoil wasn’t just external, it was internal. In his heart. In his mind. 10 years old, no parents, no land, and the wreckage of his circumstances broke into his very being. He said he felt very alone.

Kelvin brings us into the complexity of the problem of poverty. Sometimes it can feel oversimplified, as if the story is as simple as this: someone doesn’t have enough money to go to school, so we give them the money, and then happily ever after. It’s not that simple, it’s deeper. We’re talking about real people. Real pain. 

You see, poverty wreaks havoc on its victims. It attacks and attacks and attacks. Stop it in one area, and it will come in another. Defend with your right arm, and it will take your left. 

This is Kelvin’s story:

He lost his dad when he was an infant. 

Then he lost his mom when he was ten.

Then his land and his home were taken from him, forcing him to move in with his aunt.

Then he lost his chance to go to school.

This is when The Hope Venture intervened, giving Kelvin a chance to go to school. But the story doesn’t end there. For poverty continues it’s unrelenting attack.

You see, Kelvin struggles to have enough money to go on his school trips.

He struggles to have enough money to buy the clothes necessary for extracurricular events.

He struggles to have enough money to buy his books. Even though he has been sponsored, a multitude of difficulties remain.

Yeah, poverty keeps coming up with new ways to try and keep Kelvin down. But something is different. Something changed in Kelvin. Something changed within.

You see, when Kelvin got sponsored by The Hope Venture, he wasn’t just given money to go to school. When Kelvin got sponsored he was given guidance in his quest for understanding himself. He was given support in learning to deal with the difficulties of his external circumstances. People believed in him. 

Our student sponsorship project is multifaceted. First, sponsorship provides the funds for high school kids who are unable to attend school because of their inability to pay for the school fees. Second, our Hope Venture Kenya partners visit these students at school, offering opportunities for mentoring and counseling. Third, we connect our students to their sponsors through written letters, providing encouragement and support from afar. Fourth, we gather all the students for Camp, where they build relationships with our HV Kenya partners, as well as the other students. At Camp, the students are encouraged to process their story together and to think about how they can make a difference in the world. Each of these layers seek to empower the students in all areas of their life: emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Each year at camp, the Hope Venture’s US team, the Kenyan partners, and all the students work together to do a service project for the community. During Kelvin’s first year at Camp, he got the opportunity to help build an outdoor classroom. Through that project, he met Scott, our team’s building aficionado. Scott took Kelvin under his wing, teaching him the ins and outs of building. It was Kelvin’s first time using power tools, and he was very good with them. He found work that he loves and work that makes him proud. He came alive to his passion for building. The next year when Camp rolled around, Kelvin was eager to see Scott and learn more. The third year, Kelvin was leading a service project of his own, building desks for an elementary school in the area. He started to feel the confidence that comes with learning his purpose.

He began to see the bad influences around him and how they affected his character. He learned about living for God. He learned about loving people. He got baptized. 

He underwent a transformation. While the turmoil of his circumstances were not altogether relieved, he gained the empowerment necessary to face the hardships that life will continue to throw at him. 

Now Kelvin says that he has been changed. He says that he has a different character. That something has taken place within himself which has given him the ability to face his circumstances. He now knows that God can use even his disappointments to appoint him somewhere else. 

You see, what changed in Kelvin’s life is that he found hope. Yes, hope. Hope in a God who works all things together for good. Hope in the midst of difficult circumstances. Hope that stands up to the relentless attack of poverty. 

Kelvin’s story is not a happily ever after. His story is real. It’s painful. It’s difficult. Poverty is still present. But he has found hope in the midst of it. He’s found a peace that surpasses understanding. He’s been transformed from the inside out.

To impact more students like Kelvin, donate to our Student Sponsorship Project today!