Church World Service Africa’s Giving Hope methodology was developed and implemented across Rwanda and other East African countries beginning in 2004 during the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Countless hours were spent testing different strategies to improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children with CWS’s partner, YWCA Rwanda. A few initial recipients were Venutte Dusabu, Francoise Niyonsaba, and Liberathe Ayinkamiye from Mbuye, Ruhango in the South-central area of the country. Now, 10 years after they joined the program and 20 years after the end of the Rwandan Genocide, here is how Giving Hope has affected their lives.
Venutte is the leader of the community’s CWS Giving Hope Forum, an organization comprised of many different working groups of 5-15 young people each. One of his favorite aspects of the methodology is diversification. Shortly after he first joined, he and his working group began farming multiple varieties of fruits and vegetables in order to address pressing food insecurity. The group was eventually able to produce enough food for themselves and have surplus to sell. Their nutrition also greatly improved.
“Currently, we should tell you that food security is not a problem among our group members because diversity brings all basic needs,” Venutte stated.
Later, they began to diversify trades among themselves by starting individual entrepreneurial endeavors, including tailoring, animal husbandry, and retail shops.
CWS has learned over its many years’ experience that it should provide job skills training opportunities in various career fields. Instead of mandating all members of the Giving Hope program grow corn or raise cattle or sell school supplies, CWS takes an asset-based approach. This means each individual is consulted to discover his or her own unique talents, interests, and needs. This strategy motivates the youth and builds sustainable communities.
Francoise Niyonsaba also appreciates the Giving Hope methodology. She lost her parents in the Rwandan Genocide at just one year of age and was raised by her ailing grandmother. Through community mentorship and support groups, Giving Hope structured avenues for her to manage trauma associated with the deaths of her family members and ease her nerves as she finished primary school. Giving Hope later provided her training on small business activities. Francoise appreciated CWS because while other non-governmental organizations gave the community aid, CWS invested in its future.
“Before, we thought it came as other programs came—to support,” Francoise recalled. “But this program came inspiring us to support ourselves.”
Now, she is able to care for her younger sibling by selling soybeans, peanuts, sorghum, and potatoes at the market.
“We are proud of the Giving Hope approach because it has opened our mind, thinking that if someone gives you money or something, she or he won’t be there every time to give you that, so you need to think how you could feed yourself,” Francoise asserted.
Liberathe Ayinkamiye is another member of the group who has thrived in Giving Hope. She sells grains, raises livestock, tailors clothing and is able to pay schools fees for her younger siblings with her profits. She saves 10,000 Rwandan Francs ($15) every month after meeting her basic needs.
The CWS Africa Giving Hope program has helped thousands of orphans, vulnerable children, and youth caregivers take control of their own lives at ages many young people still rely on their parents for virtually everything.
“[CWS] has built self-confidence in us that we should do something,” Francoise praised. “At that age we were thinking we were too young to do anything. We realized that there is no [age too young] to start any financial income activity.”
In an area of the world that does not have the resources to give orphans anywhere to turn, the community mentorship, support groups, and vocational training provided by CWS gives them what they need to make it on their own.
Joel Cooper, serve as a Global Mission Intern with Church World Service, East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya