Empower a Hero

Empower a Hero: Jocelyn in Rwanda

Jan-21-blog_pic-of-Joc-from-Rwanda.jpg

“Before I joined the savings groups I was alone. I used to walk alone in the fields every day and I didn’t belong,” said Jocelyn, a business owner and mother from Rwanda. But since joining a Savings for Life group, Jocelyn has grown into a confident entrepreneur and member of a supportive community of women. Now, she goes to the market each day to sell her vegetables. The money she earns allows her to provide her eight children with medical insurance – and lend to other women who want to break free from poverty. In Rwanda, Savings for Life groups grow out of partnerships with the local church. Church leaders and volunteers create opportunities that help the most vulnerable develop economic stability in their families and communities. As pastors discover their church’s role in addressing the root causes of poverty, they are motivated to invite their most vulnerable neighbors into groups like Jocelyn’s.

Seventy-two percent of Rwanda’s 20,530 Savings for Life members are women, who are especially vulnerable to economic hardship. But in each meeting, women grow in independence and confidence as they accumulate savings and expand their financial knowledge. They encourage and celebrate one another with each new success.

Jocelyn’s first success came when she opened a produce shop with a loan from her savings group. Now that she can sustainably support her children, she is working to pay it back while lending money to others. “When we come together, we pray, then we open the box which has the money…and collect the social fund for loans,” Jocelyn said. The social fund protects the members from the shock of emergency costs. Small grants are given to cover unexpected medical procedures or home repairs.

Women in Savings for Life grow in deep friendship with one another. As they come out of isolation, they are welcomed into compassionate communities. “This savings group has united us because we pull together and solve problems as one group,” Jocelyn said. Today, Jocelyn is empowered to not only support her own family, but the economic growth and welfare of her entire community.

Check back with us throughout January to meet more heroes like Jocelyn. They’re leading their families and neighbors in the work of justice in some of the most vulnerable countries on earth. You can join the movement today at EmpowerAHero.org!

Why We Empower Heroes

EAH-social-banner-for-2nd-part-of-month.jpg

Madeline Holler is our Communications and Marketing Specialist. She studied International Studies at Baylor University and has volunteered with Christian organizations in Kenya, Uganda as well as locally in the US. As we focus on empowering heroes this month, we want to give you personal glimpses from our staff who are deeply invested in this life-giving movement. This is Madeline’s… I feel insignificant.

The other evening, I was sitting on my couch in my tiny apartment in a small neighborhood of a city of millions. I checked my phone to potentially find a glimpse of significance on social media or looked to my husband for a word of affirmation or two. Checking the news, I read about a man who was stabbed while defending innocent individuals…on a corner I had just walked by.

Why? How can this happen? Why is it that I have food on my table and clean water to drink and others don’t? Why do I have a comfortable life and others face danger every day? It pains me to think about those who are freezing to death in this brutal winter weather, for those who come home to an empty house, for those who have to defend themselves daily amidst war, hate and persecution.

I feel small. What could I possibly do to make this world better?

I see the significance in my work, but in the midst of so much negative news and circumstances, I sometimes struggle to understand the bigger picture – seeing the great things God has planned for me and others. I want to change the world, but I know I can’t do it all, nor was I charged with the call to change every heart and solve every problem.

At World Relief, I have the great opportunity to share stories of what others are doing and spread the word about how local churches around the world are being empowered to serve the most vulnerable. What a radically wonderful call that is.

It wasn’t until recently that I had that overwhelming feeling of understanding what it truly means to empower another human. Someone who has significant need and has devoted their life to changing this world - sustainably forming communities of individuals who spread the love of Christ by providing a meal, growing crops, or helping single mothers raise a family, just to name a few of the ways these heroes are impacting their communities. These individuals give all they have, even when it seems like they might not have much, and we get to journey alongside them and be transformed along the way ourselves.

Because of programs like Empower a Hero, I now understand transformation better. I want to empower heroes throughout the world. I want to be a hero in my community. And World Relief has made it simple for this to happen.

Something is stirring and I don’t want it to stop.

A movement of genuine empowerment is growing and WE can be a part of it.

Join us at empowerahero.org.

Empower a Hero: Emily in Kenya

Jan-14-blog_pic-of-Emily-in-Kenya.jpg

Emily Seteyio is dedicated to reducing the high infant mortality rate in Kenya, and she’s going the distance to make it happen. She used to regularly walk six miles to protect just one baby from HIV. More than 1.6 million Kenyans are living with HIV, but pregnant women and their babies are especially vulnerable to the disease. Prenatal care and hospital births reduce the chances of mother-to-child transmission. But neither of those are common practice for women living in remote areas.

Because doctors and nurses are out of reach, rural women often turn to traditional birth attendants to assist them during labor. Unfortunately, many attendants don’t have the proper equipment or training to prevent HIV transmission between the mothers and infants under their care.

Emily in Kenya
Emily in Kenya

So Emily stands with the vulnerable women of Kajiado, Kenya. She empowers them with the resources they need to have safe deliveries and healthy babies – even when the mothers are HIV positive. Since 2012, she’s served as a community health worker after training from World Relief Kenya. Emily volunteered for the role because she was concerned about the mothers in remote areas who were without access to quality care.

Emily visits mothers in their homes and counsels them about the benefits of giving birth in health centers. “In the hospital, there are gloves and equipment that prevent the spread of HIV from the health caregivers to the mother and child,” Emily said.

Pastors often serve as vital links between community health workers and vulnerable mothers. Through collaboration with a local pastor, Emily was able to make sure one high-risk woman had transportation to the health facility for the birth.

But during her pregnancy, Emily would regularly walk six miles from the health facility to the woman’s remote village. Since she was HIV positive, Emily encouraged her to give birth in a health center so her baby could live free from the virus.

Eventually, the woman delivered a healthy baby boy in the health facility, despite her high-risk pregnancy. This wouldn’t have been possible without Emily’s dedication – and the support of the local church.

Check back each week in January to meet more heroes like Emily – women and men standing for justice in the most vulnerable places around the world. Join the movement at EmpowerAHero.org today!

Make a New Resolution for Justice – Empower a Hero!

He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth.

Isaiah 42:3-4

At World Relief, we believe that justice begins when we empower the most vulnerable to be the heroes of their own stories of transformation.

World Relief - Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 4, 2014
World Relief - Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 4, 2014

And while it’s not the lead role, you have an important part to play. You’re invited to stand with these heroes and share their stories of physical, spiritual and economic change. Alongside their local churches, these brave women and men are leading their neighbors to overcome some of the worst injustices.

This is why Empower a Hero works (and why you should join us!):

  1. It’s sustainable: When we give out a single meal or a pair of shoes, we only provide temporary fixes to deeper issues. Instead, we need to get at the roots of poverty to make lasting changes. Through Empower a Hero, staff and local churches equip volunteers with the tools and training to become better parents, health workers, farmers or pastors. Then they share their knowledge with others, creating exponential transformation that grows and spreads throughout communities.
  2. It dignifies the vulnerable: Acts of charity have the potential to rob dignity from the poor and imply that they don’t have the strength or ability to lead their own communities out of poverty. But justice sees the vulnerable through the eyes of their Creator: loved, dignified and capable of using their gifts to serve their families and communities.
  3. It’s a movement of the global church: When the church here stands with the church across the world, we can do the work of justice together. Through Empower a Hero, World Relief works with local pastors to awaken their congregations to their God-given role: to proclaim the good news of Jesus in both word and deed. Then, church members are ready to address the spiritual and physical needs of their neighbors.

Throughout January, we’ll introduce you to several heroes who are empowered by local churches to rise above injustice – and who are inviting others to stand with them for change. We pray their stories will transform your heart as well.

Ready to sign up? You can join the movement today at Empowerahero.org!