by Dr Callum Henderson
New hope, a fresh start, friendship and business training.
Africa Hope Initiatives – inspiring project
It is no surprise for those visiting our partners and projects in Africa to be inspired and full of admiration during those visits. It is especially encouraging to find this for the first time at a new partner or project. A visit to Africa Hope Initiatives a couple of years back was one of those moments. The project supports women to break free from prostitution as a means of earning income for vital necessities and set up small businesses as well as benefit from an amazing fellowship of mutual support and spiritual strength. Not only that but there is a wonderful sense of happiness among the women – as Marie-José the group leader told us, ‘we have hope and we have joy and we laugh!’ The women spoke of their dignity being restored, of their hopes for the future and their determination to work hard to build an income for themselves and their children. Alice, one of the group, told us, ‘my parent was beer’, but now her life had been radically changed, ‘because of God.’
We were impressed by the commitment of the project leader, Rugabira Theophile, whom we know well through his involvement in the CIMS training in Rwanda. He had such a passion and compassion for the project and the women and told of how the project had been birthed when World Relief support for those with HIV/AIDS stopped and some of the women began to die.
The women are organised into Solidarity Groups and receive a loan to start their businesses and the loan for each individual is guaranteed by the whole group. Theophile finds that giving loans rather than grants creates a greater level of responsibility and also allows the project to keep recycling the finance. It is not just the money which is important but the fellowship and also training which is provided. A professor of rural development trains the women in finance and business skills.
Anchor Foundation Grant
We wanted to support Africa Hope Initiatives in the project and so provided funding for a pilot project to expand the number of loans. This has been successful and we have now begun an agreed partnership with Africa Hope Initiatives. We are grateful for a grant from the Anchor Foundation for £3,000 to further expand the project and this is being sent over to Africa Hope Initiatives this month. We pray God’s blessing on those wonderful woman and look forward to many more successful businesses being set up.