Let's break it down.....

We are absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the generosity of family, friends, and strangers!  Thank you!  We love having you on our team!  We wanted to break down the costs of the training so you know specifically what your money is going towards.  Our team is made up of volunteers who are paying their own way to the Congo.  Each one has purchased their own plane ticket, visa expense, and Letter of Intent requirement to even enter the country.  We are grateful for our team and their personal investment.  We wanted you to know this so that you know your money is going directly to the grounds of Congo!  There is still time and room for you to join!  Maybe you will see an expense down below and feel led to sponsor the whole amount, maybe your small group or book club would love to take it on!  Let us know!  Remember, we are bringing back hand made items from the One Thread women for donors of $100 or more!   

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Here is the breakdown of expenses:

Our training is Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm.  We are slotted to have 45 people in attendance.  One of the obvious barriers is language.  Because of this we need interpreters.  Each attendee will have a table group with a table leader (one of us) and that leader will need an interpreter.  Once they listen to a lesson from the front they will "live it out" in small groups.  So when they learn the lesson on budgeting, they will then fill out their own budget sheet in small groups for practice.  The cost for 6 interpreters for the week is $1500

Most attending will be coming from a distance.  We want to make things as simple as possible and with such long learning days we would love to provide lunch each day for those coming.  The lunch will be prepared by some of our One Thread women who make the meals at the training center each day!  The cost of lunch for the week is $1200

At the end of the Business training there is a graduation ceremony!  All attendees will receive a Business Essentials Certificate that shows they completed the course.  All attendees must come each day for the full day to receive this certificate.  At the end of the week we want to celebrate them and their hard work.  We want to launch them into this new space of dreaming a better life for their family.  The cost for the graduation ceremony (printing of certificates and cake) is $200

Alternativ has become such a valued partner to Reeds of Hope.  We are so grateful for them and all the work they are doing.  We will have the training books for leaders in both Lingala and English.  Then each attendee will receive a workbook that is also in both English and Lingala.  This workbook will be what they use in their table groups all week.  Taking notes, filling out worksheets, writing down a business plan and of course, their dreams.  Each of these items need to be printed and spiral bound.  This really is one of the most essential parts of the training!     The cost for printing these items is $1,000

We have gotten asked a lot regarding our safety.  We are so thankful for that question and we do appreciate all of your prayers.  We do feel safe but we also know that you should always be smart.  Because of this, we want to make sure that our team has trustworthy drivers to take us to and from the training each day.  We want to make this reservation in advance so we know we will be well cared for and to our training on time.  There will be six of us needing transportation each morning and night.  The cost of transportation for the week is $750

We also want you to know that there is a fee for each attendee to come to this training.  We believe highly in this.  We know and have seen how this training could literally change their life forever.  But we also believe highly in personal responsibility and having stake in the game.  When you are handed something for free you do not care for it as you would for something that required your hard work.  We want you to know that this training is a not hand out.  This whole trip would be for nothing if that were so!

We are so grateful and trust the Lord fully for His provision.  Please know if you ever have questions please contact us!  Thank you for your commitment to One Thread and the women who it embodies.  

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Wait....so what is your name?

Oh man....we have heard this question so many times!  The One Thread Project began 3 years ago after Amy and her Dad returned from their trip to the Congo.  A new sewing center was opening, they needed sewing machines, Amy pitched the idea to me (Suzanne), then we pitched it to our friends and family, you all joined in and......voila.....the One Thread Project was born!  It was so exciting to see what one yes after one yes after one yes could create.  And that has really been the story of One Thread ever since.....one yes after another.  Beyond saying yes to these women, the most important yes we made was joining the Reeds of Hope Organization.  We saw the growth that was happening, the support that was continuous and growing, and of course, we saw the enormous need.  We knew that we wanted to join in with an organization that had the same global like mindedness, heart, presence, experience, and 501c3 status.  We wanted you to have your donations to be tax deductible.  We wanted the local leaders to be strengthened.  And that is just what we found when we placed our project under the umbrella of Reeds of Hope.  I wanted to take the time to introduce you to the founder of Reeds of Hope.  Holly graciously said yes to us and opened her hands to One Thread.  We are so proud to be on this team.  This June two representatives of Reeds of Hope's Eastern programs will be joining us in Kinshasa for the business training.  We are excited to work as a complete team this summer!  

MEET HOLLY MULFORD

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Dear One Thread supporters,

My name is Holly Mulford and I am the director of Reeds of Hope.  I wanted to take the time to introduce myself and Reeds of Hope to you.  Two years ago, One Thread approached me about joining our 501c3 (charity organization)--Reeds of Hope.  There were three main reasons for this request.  One, One Thread was not a 501c3 and so didn't have tax exempt status as a charity and couldn't offer tax receipts for giving.  Two, Reeds of Hope had been working in DRC since early 2009 and had a consistent record of integrity, organization,  and strong partnerships with on ground ministries and programs in DRC. I lived and worked in Eastern DRC at the beginning of our work in Congo and feel that that has helped us to have a strong foundation in DRC.  Third, and most importantly, One Thread and Reeds of Hope had the same mission and purpose in their work in DRC.  Reeds of Hope current mission statement is to support vulnerable women and children in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by meeting their physical, spiritual, and educational needs through meaningful in-country partnerships,  At the time that One Thread approached Reeds of Hope, we were only working in Eastern DRC, though we had been praying about ways we could start working in Kinshasa.  We felt the timing was God's hand moving us in the direction we had been praying about for a long time.  

Currently, Reeds of Hope has three main programs.  Firstly, Family Bethlehem is a children's home we partner with in Eastern DRC.  We send 50 children to school and we send 6 children to university.  All of these children are orphaned or vulnerable children.  Secondly, we also have a Family Reunification program in Eastern DRC.  We move orphaned children living in orphanages into their extended families home and then help that family with business skills, training, and start up in order to break the cycle of extreme poverty of the family.  Thirdly, One Thread works in Kinshasa with young, vulnerable women--this is the program you are familiar with and support.

When you give to One Thread, you must go through Reeds of Hope, as One Thread is a part of the 501c3, Reeds of Hope (so you would write your check to Reeds of Hope, for example). 100% of your giving is allotted to the One Thread program as all our U.S. staff are volunteers, including myself--so there is no organizational overhead that will take from your donation.  Make sure to designate your donation (either through the form on our website or on the memo section of your check) to One Thread and it will get where it needs to go.  Over this year, we will be continuing to explain this relationship and work to make One Thread more cohesive under Reeds of Hope. 

Thank you so much for supporting our work in DRC.

Sincerely,

Holly Mulford

Director, Reeds of Hope

Meet our local leaders

The Reeds of Hope-One Thread project was birthed out of relationship.  Reeds of Hope believes that all our work should operate out of and through relationship.  We know that relationship is what brings community and that brings depth of connection.  We are so proud to be alongside people already doing amazing things and inviting others on the journey.  We wanted to take the time to introduce you to our friends......the ones who are in the nitty gritty of everyday life in the Congo.  The ones who teach, support, encourage, make home visits, hospital visits, celebrate, and inspire. 

We cannot wait to see them again!  

 Meet One Thread Project's Social Worker, Isamel.  She is pictured here on the left alongside one of the recent graduates, Sarah. She lives and cares for her mother and brother.  She studied in Switzerland and worked in adoption while she was there.  Isamel goes to the sewing center three times a week.  Checks in with the women there, see if there are women waiting, and make certain that needs are met.  If there are women waiting for sponsorship, she brings those names to Amy and they discuss how to move forward.  Any time a new student is added she is in charge of meeting with them, checking on their attendance, and making sure that they are doing well in the program.  She keeps in constant communication with One Thread stateside.  She makes sure that all the school fees are paid for the children in our program and transportation needs are in place each month.  Isamel helps to organize tasks and improve work.  If a woman or their children fall ill, she follows up with them at home or the hospital.  We are so very grateful for Isamel and know that logistically none of this work could be done without her!  She is such a gift!

Meet One Thread Project's Social Worker, Isamel.  She is pictured here on the left alongside one of the recent graduates, Sarah. She lives and cares for her mother and brother.  She studied in Switzerland and worked in adoption while she was there.  Isamel goes to the sewing center three times a week.  Checks in with the women there, see if there are women waiting, and make certain that needs are met.  If there are women waiting for sponsorship, she brings those names to Amy and they discuss how to move forward.  Any time a new student is added she is in charge of meeting with them, checking on their attendance, and making sure that they are doing well in the program.  She keeps in constant communication with One Thread stateside.  She makes sure that all the school fees are paid for the children in our program and transportation needs are in place each month.  Isamel helps to organize tasks and improve work.  If a woman or their children fall ill, she follows up with them at home or the hospital.  We are so very grateful for Isamel and know that logistically none of this work could be done without her!  She is such a gift!

 Paul and Micheline are married with 6 children.  Paul is the director of the Emmanuel Training Center and Micheline leads the sewing school.  The training school began in September of 2014.  There you can learn languages (French/English) or computer sciences.  At the sewing center, women can learn a skill that will help create a sustainable job.  Their over arching goal is to share the love of Christ and preach the gospel through their work.  They desire to fight against poverty, the street children phenomenon, and unemployment.  Their target students are anyone willing to learn, orphans, single mothers,   With the support of Reeds of Hope, Emmanuel Training Center began with 5 orphans who have now grown to become teachers.  The sewing program began with 10 women through the One Thread program.  There are now 50 students and 15 are supported by Reeds of Hope-One Thread Program.  Despite challenges, through God's grace, the students are still coming willing and eager.  Also by God's grace, Paul has recently opened a school, The Emmanuel Christian School.  They have Kindergarten, primary school, and 2 classes of secondary school.  How exciting to watch the Lord growing all that Paul and Micheline are doing.  We are grateful to partner with them!

Paul and Micheline are married with 6 children.  Paul is the director of the Emmanuel Training Center and Micheline leads the sewing school.  The training school began in September of 2014.  There you can learn languages (French/English) or computer sciences.  At the sewing center, women can learn a skill that will help create a sustainable job.  Their over arching goal is to share the love of Christ and preach the gospel through their work.  They desire to fight against poverty, the street children phenomenon, and unemployment.  Their target students are anyone willing to learn, orphans, single mothers,   With the support of Reeds of Hope, Emmanuel Training Center began with 5 orphans who have now grown to become teachers.  The sewing program began with 10 women through the One Thread program.  There are now 50 students and 15 are supported by Reeds of Hope-One Thread Program.  Despite challenges, through God's grace, the students are still coming willing and eager.  Also by God's grace, Paul has recently opened a school, The Emmanuel Christian School.  They have Kindergarten, primary school, and 2 classes of secondary school.  How exciting to watch the Lord growing all that Paul and Micheline are doing.  We are grateful to partner with them!

OneThread Project Overview

In Congo there is a desperate need for sustainable jobs so that families can remain just that, a family. We believe through education, job training, and holistic support, families will not just survive day to day, but thrive!  At the very beginning, The One Thread Project was born out of deep desire to find a different narrative for children in Congo- instead of orphanages, families. We took a step back and asked a bigger question. What were the obstacles that separated mothers and their children? While many of the answers are complex, one is simple. Being able to provide a roof overhead and food for the belly requires access to money, which requires job skills. If we could walk it back to this step, then just maybe we could make an impact. Maybe one child might not become an orphan. In a region that suffers from crippling rates of unemployment, many young people are unskilled and uneducated.  The One Thread students work for one year at Emmanuel Sewing Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  They walk through the doors with no knowledge of clothing construction, through hard work and dedication, they begin designing and creating all on their own.  At the end of one year of sewing school, the women transition to a sewing boutique which is similar to a graduate school.  Here they will continue to perfect their skills and create garments to be sold.  In this new setting they will also start earning an income to become financially independent through their work. Here they learn the art of tailoring and refine their skills We offer sewing training, internships at the boutique, and support for launching new graduate owned businesses. 

This summer, A One Thread team will be traveling to DRC to provide formal business training to the women in the One Thread Sewing Program.  We will be teaching the Alternativ Curriculum to provide the women we support with high-impact business training and mentorship, equipping individuals to start small businesses and break the cycle of poverty.

Through this training, The One Thread Women will be learning the basic skills to start and run a local business.  Experiential learning is cultivated through intimate group discussions and interactive exercises, including skits, games, and role-play. The business content promotes self-discovery through practical, culturally-relevant topics. It also affirms the truth about one’s identity and unique giftedness. The course is concluded with a graduation ceremony to highlight their accomplishment with a course completion certificate. As a final step, the facilitation team conducts closing surveys to gain feedback from participants. Following course completion, local leadership receives ongoing support and mentorship to bring entrepreneur dreams to fruition.

Let me introduce you.....

I know the one thing I am most excited about is to hug the necks of the women I have seen in pictures for the last three years.  When I throw a load of laundry into my fancy washing machine, roll my eyes at having to empty the dishwasher for the second time in one day, or I have to scrub my toilets.....these women come to mind.  I am quickly humbled.  All the things that make my life easier are not even in the realities of the One Thread women.  I want to be in their day to day, hear about their dreams, and look them in the eyes to say "you are doing such a great job.  I am proud to know you.  I am not the same because of you."  

There have been some women with us since the very beginning of One Thread.  Since YOUR first yes as a donor these women have started in school to learn a skill they knew nothing of before.  They finished school and earned their Seamstress Certificate.  Then they moved on to working at the Boutique which YOU helped fund into existence!  And now, because of YOU, they are launching our first ever Co-Op!  They are working towards being full owners of this co-op slowly in the months to come.  We want you to meet them!

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Clarisse

Clarisse is 35 years old and the mother of 2 boys.  Both boys are in our Young Scholars program.  She was in our first group of women in May 2015.  She not only cares for her family, but her mother and niece.  Clarisse dreams of having her own boutique!

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Dorcas

Dorcas is 19 years old and has also been with One Thread for 3 years.  That means she started her education with us when she was 16.  So young and yet so very driven.  She lives at home and contributes to her family.  Dorcas dreams of having her own boutique one day!

30 days * 30 women * 30th of May

 We are going to Congo! 

It is absolutely unbelievable to think that this summer our feet will be walking on the same ground as the women of One Thread.  For the last two years we have been reading updates and seeing faces through photos.  But in just over a month we will be sitting across a table, sharing meals, and dreaming in person! 

As the One Thread program has continued to grow we are even more excited and passionate to partner with each graduate in launching their own business.  We know that charity doesn’t take you any further than that one moment.  We deeply believe that holistic education is transformative!  We have partnered with Alternativ Global Entrepreneurs to bring what we believe to be the last stop for each woman on their journey to becoming an entrepreneur.

 On May 30th, a team of us will be flying to the Congo bringing this training to 30 of our women and we need your help!  We have solidified a partnership with Alternativ Global Entrepreneurs, leaders here in the states have received training in Colorado Springs, and our plane tickets have been purchased.  WE NEED YOU to help bring this training to life!  We need to pay for our location, printing of materials, translators, training materials, and to bring our local leaders from eastern Congo.

For the next 30 days we will be highlighting our Congo trip team, the women of One Thread, and dreams for the future!  We cannot wait to see what will happen in the next 30 days.   

Will you join us??

You can add your thread HERE

 

 

Training That Breaks The Cycle

In February, two members of the Reeds of Hope team traveled to Colorado Springs to
begin our partnership with Alternativ Global Entrepreneurs. (www.alternativproject.org) The Alternativ curriculum delivers a high-impact business training and mentorship, equipping individuals to start small businesses and break the cycle of poverty. We are excited to announce that in June a team will be traveling to Congo to conduct our first Business Training. One Thread sewing scholars and Bernard, our manager in the East, will learn through intimate group discussions and interactive exercises, including skills, games and role-play. The business content promotes self-discovery through practical, culturally-relevant topics. It also affirms the truth about one’s identity and unique giftedness. As the trainees are equipped with business skills and confidence, they are presented with new economic opportunities. For the women in the sewing program, this means they learn skills that will change theirs and their children's lives, setting them up for financial stability.  For Bernard, this training will equip him to train our University and high school graduates and the parents of the reintegrated families so that they too can gain the tools necessary for financial stability. With more financial stability comes increased food security, access to education, and life-changing movement for individuals, families, and entire communities. In fact, for every 1% increase in a nation’s entrepreneurship growth, there is a 2% decrease in the poverty rate(www.alternative.org). This training affects change that starts with one individual and ultimately changes families and entire communities. 

Local Social Worker Brings In-Depth Training to Our Staff

It was a big prayer, and it was answered! As the ministry’s needs have grown, the staff's responsibilities have grown as well.  Back in August 2017, we received the funds for our staff in DRC to finally complete a long-wished-for training, and this month we got to see more fruits from that large training. A social worker from Rwanda who has been consulting with us spent a week with the staff and the children during that time.  She taught our staff a new curriculum for mentoring the youth, but also crucial social work skills, evaluation techniques and curriculum for support groups with the reunified and reintegrated families.  The support groups began this month, after intense planning and preparation. We are encouraged by our staff's leadership with these families and what this means to the community.  Not only are children being cared for through sponsorship, but entire families are becoming change makers in their community when it comes to orphan care. Our hope is that we see the expansion of the family reintegration side of the ministry in 2018.  The families who have taken in children need support in many ways.  We wish to implement a second phase to this side of the ministry, which is to facilitate and connect the families to income generating trainings and opportunities like raising animals, sewing, bread making, gardening, art and other handiwork.  We have a volunteer grant writer working hard to gain funding for this second phase. Pray for this big prayer with us for 2018!

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Raising up Family Members

I take for granted what I learned just by growing up in a family.  As a young mother, I also take for granted what my children pick up on just by being a part of the family I’m now building.  I think of the needs that were met for me and the ones I meet for my kids.  There are of course, the basic ones. Each day I wake up my kids, I feed them, clothe them, hug them, drive him to school or change her diaper.  Then there are the more intricate and unseen needs of my son and daughter.  I laugh at his superhero jokes and I coo back at her as she learns her voice.  They sit around the dinner table during our conversations, picking up on the nuances of communication, how to comfort one another with thoughtful words, adjust one’s attitude, listen, respond and react appropriately.  They’re learning skills for their lives every minute of the day.  They are learning how to handle big emotions, let downs, good days, and bad days.  A redirection here, a small lesson in the kitchen there, each little lesson adding up to a whole person.  Lessons about money, safety, human touch, food, choices, hygiene, tone of voice, self control, hard work, every necessary skill we need to be successful humans is taught within the construct of a family.    

 

Being raised by a family and being a “family member” just seems matter-of-fact. It isn’t something I had to search for, worry about, or dream about, only to wake up without one.  I never knew life outside of my role as a daughter.  I never longed to be someone’s daughter.  I have no reference point to measure what it feels like or what life could be like without the attention, love, support and lessons of a family, even an imperfect one. Lately, as I see the faces of the children we support at Family Bethlehem, I have wondered, what would have become of me without the care of a family? I see myself in their faces.  Would I have acquired the most basic skills necessary to meet and get along with people, hold a meaningful conversation, get a job, cook food, clean my house……would I have a house now? I try to imagine who I would be today as a 31 year old.  I am wife, mother, and teacher.  But what would I be if I had grown up as an orphan, let alone grown up as an orphan under a government that didn’t find it within its ability to provide me with food and clean water, let alone an education or access to a foster family.  What if I had grown up as an orphan in a country with no social safety nets and was left to care for myself?  

 

The phrase, “But for the grace of God, there go I,” repeats in my mind often.  I hear it most when I think of the children and mothers we support in DRC.  I never did anything to deserve a family growing up.  I was born into one that remained my family forever.  I owe most of who I am and what I have to their raising. If it had been different for me, If I had been without a family, would someone have fought for me to have my basic needs met or to find a family to raise me? Maybe an organization would have made it their goal to meet my needs, provide me access to education,  food, hope--a future.  “But for the grace of God, there go I,” reminds me I am blessed, not because of anything I have done.  It compels me to impact as many lives as I can with my time, money and talents. 

 

We know from the extensive research and writing out there and our own experience with orphans in DRC, that orphanages are not a solution for a child.  They do not have the capacity to teach, grow, nurture, prepare and launch a child into a successful life.  Reeds of Hope is determined to teach mothers in Kinshasa the trades and skills they need to provide for their children so they do not have to face the decision of leaving their child at an orphanage.  Similarly, we are determined to care for the children who have been orphaned at Family Bethlehem in Eastern DRC.  We will continue to provide for their needs, including education, and find and train up loving, local Congolese adoptive families to raise them as a family member, the way God intends. 

 

We need people like you to help us continue this work.  What does a family try to do? They try to set up a child for success and currently we are in most need of sponsors for our students who want to attend a university, thus getting the ultimate opportunity to become independent and contribute to their community.  This is $40 dollars a month.  It would normally cost $80 a month for one student, but we have split that in two to allow two sponsors to share the cost of sending one child.  We have been able to get them through school because of faithful sponsors, and now we hope to get them through university!  Please visit the "Projects" tab to learn more about all our work, then visit the "Take Action" tab, pray for us and give where you feel most compelled.

Sarah Calvo is our Sponsorship and Education coordinator in the East. E-mail her at roh.fb.sponsorship@gmail.com with any questions or to learn more. 

Nakazuba is waiting to begin university because she needs a sponsor. She wants to study business management.

High School Seniors

Summer is upon us and for our students in DRC, one big event, one they may never have thought they would have a chance to experience, is upon them.  That event is for our high school seniors, or "finalists" as they say in DRC.  Join us in prayer for them as they begin their state exams on Monday which will last four days.  These exams are required for the seniors to receive their diplomas. Our staff in DRC have been working to prepare them all year and the students themselves have worked so hard.  Imagine the difference your support has made! Orphaned children with no hope to attend school are now taking their state exams, preparing to enter their worlds as productive members of society. It is these momentous events that remind us again just how special these young men and women are--and just how honored we are to be a part of their stories, supporting them in fulfilling their God-given potential. We thank you so much, and ask you to join us as we pray this weekend and next week for them to do well! 

An Interview with our Founder

 Holly Mulford started Reeds of Hope in 2010 while living in Eastern Congo with her family. Her leadership and vision are an inspiration to all of us- read on as she shares her heart. 

Holly Mulford started Reeds of Hope in 2010 while living in Eastern Congo with her family. Her leadership and vision are an inspiration to all of us- read on as she shares her heart. 

What compels you to invest in Congo?

We lived in Eastern DRC for 4 1/2 years.  During that time I grew to admire, respect, and love the Congolese people that we were privileged to know.  I saw the exploitation of the vulnerable and the lack of justice that prevented the people of DRC to lead lives where basic human rights were present.  I was humbled by the work of the Congolese women and men I met, to help each other in any way they could, despite insurmountable odds.  I was convicted that we all our the hands and feet of Jesus in this world, and perhaps there was a way I could join in their work of showing God's love to their neighbor--serving the poor and vulnerable, bringing light into darkness, and hope in times of despair.  In end end, how could I not invest in Congo?  

What is one of the most redemptive moments you’ve experienced working with ROH?

There are many moments, but one of the more memorable moments was when we were contacted by someone who knew of a baby that was orphaned (mother had died) and being cared for a very aged and sickly grandmother.  The baby was ill and starving, she was taken in by Mama Sifa for about 9 months and loved well.  Then a search was done to see if any other family would care for her--they would not.  So, another Congolese family came forward to adopt her and she is now living with this family--loved and thriving. 

What is a way you’ve seen God work through this organization?

I have seen so many doors open (and some painfully close) to serve God with amazing women and men in DRC.  Even when we wonder how we will fund the dreams and hopes of our partners, we just keep trusting that God will provide if we are faithful in our work.  I have especially loved three parts of our programs as they've grown over the past few years.  In Kinshasa, watching vulnerable women learn a trade and given the skills to start a business has been so humbling and rewarding.  In Eastern DRC, sending children to school that would otherwise not be going, and knowing the long term impact for these kids, is something I'm proud we are doing.  And finally, the reunification of 12 children into families is something I will treasure forever.  Most of all, children should know the love of family, that they are deeply and forever loved.  

What have you learned from our Congolese partners

Humility--I have learned that I am a pretty small part of amazing work being done by our Congolese partners.  The work existed before I came along and will exist long after I leave.  I have learned the greatness of the God we serve and the courage of His followers in hard places. 

Faith--I have have been humbled by the deep conviction of our partners and their persistence in believing that God is present and deeply loves them, even when tragedy strikes again and again. 

Sacrifice--I have learned about what it means to lay down your life to serve your God and trust that He has your life completely in His hands. 

Hard Work-- I have learned what it means to work with integrity and honesty in difficult situations with corruption and exploitation often beating on your door. 

Love--I have watched our partners show love and dignity to the smallest and most vulnerable child.  Perhaps the image that sticks with me in this moment was when our eastern DRC director was sitting and chatting with another staff member and a little boy that lived in the orphanage came up and laid his head in his lap and slept.  Or perhaps the image of Mama Sifa taking the babies into her own room and space and making sure they were shown the love of a mother, instead of an orphanage crib.  

What are you most hopeful about for the future?

I am hopeful that through education and the love of family, the children we serve will be the forces of change in DRC.  I am hopeful that the women and their children that are learning job skills will be a force of change in DRC.  I am hopeful that through our Congolese partnerships we can stand in the gap for families that would otherwise break apart in a country that has little to no social safety network.   I am hopeful that we can strengthen the work of our Congolese sisters and brothers who are giving their lives to be the feet and hands of Jesus.  That everyone they touch would know they are deeply loved by God.  

Hope for the Future

Meet Samuel Wakanda

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After my studies, I will become an engineer in agronomy and food for rural development. I will work for the future and good growth of orphaned children in the community.

Samuel is a university student sponsored by Reeds of Hope. We are hoping to set aside some extra money to help him launch a special project at Family Bethlehem to improve the nutrition of the children living there! 

Food Insecurity & Family Bethlehem

Across DRC, children find themselves in orphanages like Family Bethlehem for many reasons. These reasons are complicated and varied, but food insecurity is a significant obstacle to family well being. Across Eastern Congo, 3.6 million children under the age of five are food insecure.

Economic development is limited not only by the security situation but also by the country’s neglected and broken infrastructure. Since 1990 the population has more than doubled. However, during the same period the proportion of land that is cultivated has risen by only 0.1 percent to 11.5 percent, and the country now has a 30-40 percent food production deficit.

DRC’s child mortality rates are among the highest in the world. According to the country’s Demographic and Health Survey 2013-14, 8 percent of children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, and about 43 percent are chronically malnourished and show signs of stunting. In North and South Kivu and Kasaï provinces that figure is around 53 percent.
— World Food Programme

This heavy duty tote was designed by illustrator Jos Lock. She has drawn upon the ancient Congolese proverb, “Little by little grow the bananas,” to create this tote that is as functional as it is inspiring. We hope you will pray for our friends in Eastern Congo as often as you use it!

Your donation helps to pay the school fees for children living at Family Bethlehem. For these students, education would be an inaccessible dream without people like you stepping into pay the compulsory fees. Education provides students with the skills and confidence they need to tackle the challenges they face. Our hope is that the next generation will be empowered to create healthy and stable communities where food is accessible and children can thrive! 

Sarah is our program coordinator for Family Bethlehem. She would love to talk with you about our work in Eastern Congo. Contact her to subscribe to our quarterly updates.

A Single Bracelet

 And these things remain.. Faith, Hope, and Love

1 Corinthians 13:13

Faith/ Foi

Two years ago we began dreaming about what it would look like for women to attend school- to learn to sew and then become employed seamstresses. I have to admit, I was not exactly certain it was possible.  Not because there wasn't belief in the program or the people.  It just felt so intangible.  It felt so big.  And there are always those times when you wonder if maybe other people wouldn't want to jump alongside you.  And yet despite our doubts and worries, women came.  YOU came.  And day by day, class by class, stitch by stitch....the learning and the growing began.  Women were there learning while nursing their new babies.  They walked for miles each day to attend class.  Rain or shine they showed up. We have faith that we can provide scholarships to MORE women who are knocking on the door and begging for scholarships. Women are waiting, and we have faith God will provide.

 Students thriving at the sewing center

Students thriving at the sewing center

Hope/ L’espoir

In DRC, there is a desperate need for sustainable jobs in order for families to stay together. Our goal is to prevent any mother from having to make the decision to leave her children due to poverty. Currently, there 8 mothers attending Sewing Training hoping for greater opportunities for their families. Soon to be graduate and mother of four, Sarah has hope for the future.  Hope to become a business owner and become financially independent to support her family. Thank you for helping us empower mothers like Sarah to provide for their children with respect and dignity.  Not only are the mothers in the program thriving and growing but so are the children that are in their care!  Hope begets hope begets hope begets hope.  Because you gave hope to Sarah, Sarah is giving hope to her four children.

 Sarah’s children often attend Sewing Training with her. She now has HOPE for the future.

Sarah’s children often attend Sewing Training with her. She now has HOPE for the future.

Love/ Amour

Although One Thread started as a program to support Mothers, we have expanded to so much more. We are proud to support young girls in the community, some as young as 15. The training will equip these young women with the skills and the tools to eventually launch their own business.  Due to generous donations, One Thread has been able to provide a nutritious meal for each of the 21 women in the Sewing School. We see this as more than a simple meal. We see this as one small way to serve and love these vulnerable and valuable women.  We also are able to love on our seven graduates and provide each one of them with their very own Sewing machine.  We want to show love to more women and provide a way for sustainable income.

 Community meals are shared by the women. Each of the seven graduates received their own sewing machines!

Community meals are shared by the women. Each of the seven graduates received their own sewing machines!

"A Single Bracelet Does Not Jingle"

- Congolese Proverb

What is next for One Thread Project? The need is endless in a place with few opportunities, especially for women.  Not only do we believe in Faith, Hope, and Love, we also believe in the power of dreaming. Just as we began dreaming the vision for One Thread two year ago, we have dreams of helping more women in the community by providing them with the same Faith, Hope and Love we have been able to show day by day to the women we are currently serving. We have big dreams for the future of One Thread…. more scholarships, sewing machines for all graduates, formal business training, providing school tuition for young children.  With the team in Kinshasa, we are dreaming for the future. We have partnered with the talented designed at Cotton + Chrome to offer these beautiful handcrafted Congolese Bracelets.

All proceeds will go directly to providing scholarships for young women to attend Emmanuel sewing school and to support our graduates as they begin to launch their own businesses. 

 

 

 

Celebrating Families

We are celebrating that two more children have been reintegrated into families! Bitondo has been reintegrated into her extended biological family and Sifa has been adopted into a loving, local Congolese family! This is the long and worthy work we strive toward-- for children to grow up in families, not orphanages. Our Eastern DRC manager and social worker will diligently follow up with these placements and shepherd the families as they grow together. These two young girls will now learn and grow under the protection and love of a family, something that every child deserves. Thank you for supporting this work! 

Reintegration

This has been hard work! We first set out to develop training for our staff in Bukavu since this was new work for them. We contracted with a highly skilled social worker from Kigali named Souvenir to help us through this process. Last fall, our staff from Bukavu received training in Kigali, Rwanda on how to assess children and families and how to create care plans toward reintegration. It’s our great desire to see Congolese families rise up and care for the vulnerable children in their communities, and we want to walk beside them. Our staff returned to Bukavu excited to begin.

 

The truth is that Congolese families have been caring for orphans long before orphanages ever existed. Churches and organizations in the West – with the best of intentions – continue to build and support orphanages. Unfortunately, some of the unintended consequences of these efforts have resulted in families choosing orphanages as options for children who are not truly orphans but only in response to poverty. 

So our first task was to asses the children to determine the details of their stories – where did they come from, who are their families, and would they be good candidates for immediate reintegration. Our staff began the long process of assessing 81 children. 

As expected, many of the children do have biological family members who chose to place the children in orphanages due to the death of a parent or extreme poverty. Others are not able to return to their biological families, and so it was necessary to begin to identify Christian families in Eastern DRC who would volunteer to add a child to their existing family. 

Our staff met with many families to discuss the challenges, both financial and cultural. It’s our desire to identify families who are willing and able to lovingly welcome children as their own. 

We are excited to report that 10 children have been placed in 9 families. Five children were placed with a member of their biological family, and volunteer families took in five children.

To ensure that the children are receiving adequate care, we will continue to meet with the families weekly, provide social support, facilitate group therapy, and determine long-term care plans for the children. In some cases, we will want to provide financial support to the families in order to reduce the likelihood that the child will again be placed in an orphanage due to poverty. We want to provide sustainable help, like farm animals or job training. Reeds of Hope will continue to sponsor these children so that they can attend school.

You can partner in this work to keep children in families! The proceeds from our Christmas fundraising will go toward more training for our staff as well as support for these ten families. We believe that continuing to develop this program will have lasting impact on children and families in Eastern DRC!

School Fees & University

Report by Amanda Bennett, project manager & board member

In 2015, Reeds of Hope began to partner with Family Bethlehem in Bukavu, a group foster home run by Mama Sifa and Papa Jerome. Mama Sifa has been taking in vulnerable children as long as she’s been able. In addition to sponsoring children for school fees, Reeds of Hope partnered with Family Bethlehem in order to help reintegrate children into families. 

SCHOOL FEES

For the 2016 school year, Reeds of Hope – with your incredible support - sponsored 90 kids in nursery, primary, and secondary school! Praise God that these children are being educated. Education leads to empowerment and opportunities for children growing up in such hard places. We would like to keep sponsoring these children in 2017. The cost for tuition and supplies has increased so we will need to add sponsors to keep up this rate. We are trusting that God will continue to provide for all our needs.

 

UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

At the beginning of 2016, we were able to sponsor a group young adults from Family Bethlehem to attend university. They dream of careers that will transform their community and are nothing short of inspirational! Samuel is studying agronomy, hoping to teach farmers to grow enough food that no mouth will go hungry.  Mungu is learning about waste management and environmental protection. He wants to help combat issues like deforestation, climate change, and poaching. Musole is at a trade school working on auto maintenance and heavy machinery operation. Citera plans to become a journalist, though he wants to teach too. His university guarantees him a job teaching upon graduation. Jean Luis is on his way to becoming a civil engineer. Samuel wants to become an ophthalmologist so he can help the young orphaned children who God loves. Mirindi  shares, " I will become a lawyer to combat impunity and discrimination of orphaned, destitute, and neglected people in society." Mois is studying accounting and wants to help those who have nothing. 

MENTORING

This year, we have started a mentoring component of our work with the adolescents and young adults at Family Bethlehem. Our staff has been meeting with the young men and women separately each month to educate and counsel them on risk areas and encourage them to make healthy choices that will support their growth and development. The youth are also given the opportunity to discuss areas of concern and ask questions in a safe environment.

We also led a three-day retreat with a group of adolescents and young adults in July. The group discussed the role of relationships and how to love each other well as well as the importance of prayer. It was a great time of community and sharing among the children!

The Christmas Auction is here!!!

We are thrilled to bring you this year's Christmas Auction! Featuring beautiful, handmade items from all over Africa, your participation will benefit the children of Eastern DRC. Throughout the weekend, we will be sharing the amazing work that is happening with our partners at Family Bethlehem. From education to family reunification, children are finding hope! Over the past year, our expenses have risen significantly. The cost of school fees and supplies have increased and several new initiatives have been launched to support the emotional,  mental, spiritual, and physical health of the children.  Your support will allow us to continue this important work!  

Each item shown has been donated, which means 100% of your purchase will directly benefit Family Bethlehem! The auction is being hosted on Facebook. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. It opens today and will close at 6 pm EST on Monday, November 7. 

That Night

guest post by Holly D

That night began just like every other night in Kinshasa for me. The lamps bathed the compound in an orange glow, a calm settled in as the hotel guests retreated into their rooms and the staff headed home. I placed a small glass of wine accompanied by a tiny square of chocolate next to my jumbo sized bottle of mosquito repellent. Wrapping myself in a light jacket, I curled up on the plastic chair to take in the night. The sounds of the city- horns honking, music blaring, thunder clouds rolling. Those nights were a kind of magic, a luxury. The time of the day I knew my phone wouldn't ring, the hours reminding me that tomorrow was a new day, full of hope and possibility. 

A horn honked twice and I heard the night guard roll the gate open. The gravel crunched as heavy tires pulled up the drive. I recognized the white SUV, the man was a frequent guest at the hotel- he worked for an NGO. He was gruff, seldom friendly. Once, when I was walking with my son around the hotel grounds, he mumbled to me that the garden outside his room wasn't a kindergarten. We went on our way, but I still smiled when I saw him. That's what you do when you live in a hotel for three months. 

He swung into a parking spot and opened the door. I expected to see him quietly trudge off to his room in the back corner of the compound like he did every other night. Instead, I heard the voices and laughter of three young women. Very, very young women. They clung to his arms as he stumbled across the courtyard to the suite across from my room. The magic of my evening was shattered as I attempted to take in what my eyes had just witnessed. 

The next morning the white SUV was gone. The man's stint in Kinshasa had come to an end and he was being transferred to a new location. The housekeepers went in to clean his room and found the three girls enjoying the luxury of tile floors and soft beds. After a heated exchange, the girls tumbled outside and the staff dragged several Louis Vuitton knock off suitcases out to the curb. Apparently the bags had been part of the consolation prize for his last night in town. They didn't want to leave. It was quiet inside the gate, peaceful. It was green and beautiful. After several hours, the staff finally dragged their bags out to the gate and demanded they get into a waiting taxi. 

I'm not sure I've ever felt so helpless- part of me wanted to call the officials and report a human abuse. But that was laughable- this was just part of life here. When your home is on the street and you have no source of income, you body too easily becomes the commodity. The valuation of currency takes on a whole new meaning when one party knows luxury and the other knows hunger. When one party drives his own car and the other has tiny mouths to feed. When one party eats three meals a day and the other wonders where she'll lay her head at night. 

I wanted to run over and tell each girl that she was beautiful and valuable, that she was loved by a God who sees her and cares for her. But I didn't. Instead, I stood outside my door taking the scene in as silent tears slipped down my cheeks. It wasn't just that I didn't know how to say those words in French or Lingala, it was that the meaning of the words I wanted to share was so much deeper than mere language. 

And so it was that life returned to normal inside my safe little compound. Well, kind of normal. The sweet smelling ylang-ylang trees still swayed in the breeze. The hibiscus still brightened the day with its beautiful blooms. The housekeepers still cleaned my already-clean bathroom and re-made my already-made bed. But every time I looked across the courtyard, their faces haunted me. I knew that lots of kids in the orphanage were the product of an exchange like the one I witnessed the night before. But I had never had to see her face or watch her walk of shame. I had never felt the bile rise in my throat like it did the night he exploited their humanity for his pleasure. My normal was shadowed by a profound sadness. It was something I couldn't un-see, I couldn't not remember. 

Three years later, I still feel sick with that memory. But a tiny piece of it has also been redeemed. When we started our partnership with the One Thread Program, we hoped and prayed that a few young women would be able to escape and avoid that kind of lifestyle for one of dignity and respect. That they would be able to learn the skill of tailoring to start their own small business, earn decent wages, feed their children, and even send them to school. We are beginning to see those prayers answered, and we are beginning to see that this sort of program is something that young women want. That they crave. That they need desperately. Girls are knocking on the door of the school begging for scholarships. They are coming to work as apprentices for a month to prove their commitment and desire to learn before being accepted into the program.

This is the thing that tempers the devastation of what I witnessed on that dark night. It gives me hope that I don't just have to live with that memory, but that maybe there was a purpose to me sitting out in my plastic chair bearing witness to what was done in secret. If it wrecked me, maybe my story would touch the hearts of people who have $10 to throw into a scholarship fund to potentially change the entire trajectory of a young girl’s life. That maybe our prayers will bridge that gap language can’t cross. That maybe God can use us to show young women the peace and beauty that can be found in the light. 

This week, the One Thread Team is hosting a very special event in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you are local, please join us! If you are unable to attend, please visit our website to see how you can still help make a difference for these young women! 

 

 

Le Boutique

Thanks to you, we are well on our way to funding the boutique where these young women will find employment and opportunity. Over the past year, these students have worked to refine their skills and learn the art of tailoring. They walked through the door with no knowledge of clothing construction, and today they are designing and creating all on their own. Here is a preview of what they've been up to! Each student constructed her own tailored outfit all by herself! 

Learn more about the One Thread Program! We are currently fundraising to open a boutique adjacent to the sewing school. To make a tax deductible donation, please give here. Thank you!