Women in our Sewing Centers: Their Stories.

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Marie: widowed with 2 children, third grade education.

Fabiola: Single, 20 years old, 5 siblings, sixth grade education.

Jeannette: mother of 4 children, abandoned by her husband, sixth grade education.

Joyce: married, two children, husband seeks day-to-day work, she has a first grade education.

Gloriosa: Mother of 5 children, husband has difficulty finding work due to handicap. She has a third grade education.

Sephora: One child, no husband, no parents, no siblings, no support systems, fifth grade education.

Florence: Married mother of three, disabled from a severe accident, third grade education.

The list of women with mirrored socio-economic situations continues for each of the sixty students currently enrolled in Love Alive International’s sewing centers.

Of our 60 students this 2015 school year, none ever had the opportunity to complete high school. The strong majority never advanced past elementary school, with some only having 1 or 2 years of education, and one never having been able to attend school at all.

While Rwanda continues to make steady progress in recovery post-genocide, and continues to be seen as a leading country in African development, it also remains among the poorest countries in the world.

The per capita income is still under $1 per day, while those deep in rural villages see far less money than that. It is often hard to fathom their survival. Three of our students are physically handicapped making their ability to find work such as farming and hard labor far more difficult, as few have interest in hiring them for the day.

As these ladies educate themselves in our sewing center, their challenges for survival also continue. Understanding their ongoing struggles, this year, we began a “helps,” project specifically for the neediest women in our program. We provide monthly groceries and also pay housing for several of these women so that they will not have to drop out of the program and thereby give up their opportunity and hope for advancement in life.

I recently sat down with each of the women in one center simply to know them more personally, and also to screen who might be most in need of assistance to continue in the program. I asked one of our students if her children were eating each day.

She looked aside and replied, “When my husband is able to find work, he brings money home for food.”

I then asked, “Are there days you have nothing to feed our children?”

“Yes, often.” She replied. “When we have money, we eat one meal per day. Sometimes only 3 days per week.”

Most of the women in our centers work very hard during the half of day they are not studying. I often see them digging fields, cultivating, and harvesting. For a long day of hoeing fields, the pay is $1. With that dollar, they do their best to provide that day’s food for their children, usually a meal of porridge and beans. When sharing her thanks, one of our students, Petronia, told me, “I’m so happy, when I get a little work, I can even buy soap for my children to bathe.” Soap is a luxury she is thankful for.

I don’t share these stories to garner pity, nor to inflict guilt, but simply to share the realities of the level of need of those we are assisting, and to assure those of you who have a part in this of the impact you have in blessing these lives.

As our first class of 9 students graduated 4 months ago, we are now seeing the results of this program. Several of the women are working out of their homes with neighbors and friends bringing work to them, others have found work in the markets or in shops with other seamstresses. I see them from time to time in town, and I see them proudly wearing clothing they have made themselves, I see the brightness in their eyes, and I listen to their excitement in having a job and having an opportunity to provide for their children. I’m already looking forward to the success stories of our next graduating class of 13 students this July. These students already have plans for forming a sewing shop together, selling their wares in local markets and have already been to local schools to advertise their ability to sew the school uniforms for all students next school year.

Thank you for being a part of blessing each of these women with skills, with hope, and with the Love of Christ.

Rwanda News, July 2014

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Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

 Dear Friends,

We’ve been in a whirlwind of activity here, and I’d like to share with you a few highlights.

Sunday School Training

Last week, Love Alive hosted a 2-day seminar training church leaders on how to organize teach children’s Sunday school programs. Emphasis was made on the importance of children in the Bible, learning styles of children, effective teaching so that children enjoy learning the Bible and desire to know more. We have also established a small curriculum library so that local churches can come borrow flannel graph and teaching materials to engage the children. We had 26 churches participate in this event. In follow-up surveys, they stated how overjoyed they were at this training, how greatly they had benefited, and were greatly excited to go back and teach their children with their new ideas and resources.  To give you a small understanding of the lack of materials and resources many have here, of all of the participants attending, over half did not own their own Bible. Imagine having the desire to instill in children the Word of God, yet not even having your own copy to study and learn more. Due to gifts sent to purchase Bibles in the local language, we were able to furnish every teacher with a Bible in addition to Bible story books and other necessary teaching materials.

Sewing Center #2

Yesterday, we opened our second women’s sewing center in a rural village (no electricity or water and all mud buildings). Twenty students are now enthusiastically studying. These women told me, “We prayed to God for help, but did not know how God could improve our state, but He has heard us and blessed us through you.”  Nearly one year ago, Crosspoint Church in Georgia donated a sewing machine for a lady named Consore, who was needing a means of earning income that was both upright and legal. Little did that church or I know what God had in store. Consore is now teaching this new women’s sewing center!

You may wonder how projects such as sewing centers are “missional,” or how they fulfill the work of Christ’s church. I believe the Bible clearly tells us that we are to love no-strings-attached, and that to effectively live a Christ-like life, we often need to show compassion simply because it is part of who Christ is. The sewing centers were designed simply to help families in poverty have a means of support; however, it has been amazing to see God work through simple love. You see, of the dozen ladies in our first sewing center, 5 women have now come and joined the local church affiliated with this center.  The formerly alcoholic and abusive husband of one began coming to church with his wife. Two weeks ago, he accepted Christ as his personal Savior.

Bibles

Last month, due to funds sent to purchase Bibles, I was able to purchase 100 Bibles.  I use these Bibles to give upon request to persons who have no Bible.  I have only a few Bibles left, as so many persons request them. A few weeks ago, I gave a local shop boy a Bible. Seeing his Bible, the co-worker requested one. A week or so later, I returned to bring her a Bible, taking a 5-year-old girl with me. When the young girl saw that I gave this lady a Bible, she said, “My mom needs a Bible.” Her mom is one of our sewing students, so when I gave her a Bible, I inquired as to whether our other students had a Bible. Nine of 10 women had no Bible. Once these ladies all had Bibles, word quickly spread that I had Bibles available to persons who had no Bible. Several of our goat recipients have now come and received a Bible as well as our music leaders and choir members, and the Sunday school training participants. These Christians light up when they finally have their own copy of God’s word.  What a privilege to help in this way.

 

Wrap-up

In three weeks, I will be returning to the USA for a few weeks for my sister’s wedding. During this time, I’m looking forward to seeing many of you and updating you on how God is using you here in Rwanda. Before I come home, Love Alive will host a 3-day Children’s Bible school in the same rural village as our latest sewing center, we will also host a showing of the Jesus Film there.  With thanks to those who have donated funds for chickens and to the children of Poplar Grove in Cookeville, TN, we will be purchasing 100 laying chickens to improve the nutrition of elementary students in another impoverished village.

 

Thank you for your prayers and all you do to share Christ’s love here in Rwanda.  God bless you abundantly!

 For His glory,

Laura 

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Love Alive Women’s Sewing Center, Kabuga.

Love Alive Women’s Sewing Center, Kabuga.

I didn’t dream of this a year ago. In fact, my ideas were quite simple. I came to Rwanda simply with God as my guide. I simply wanted to show people His love, and trusted He would provide the ways.
When last March we were able to provide a ladies group with 6 sewing machines I was thrilled. The women were blessed and excited, but that was as far as my plans went. Now, one year later, the ladies and their pastor came to me with a proposal. There were 12 committed ladies in the group who wished to have a one year program of skill training in sewing. A skilled seamstress in the church had quit her job in the city, willing to teach them, and they had located a small building next to the church where they could hold classes and practice their sewing together. All that was now required was salary for the teacher, rent for the building, and additional materials and upkeep of machines. By the end of the year, the women would graduate, knowing how to sew very well and have the ability to earn incomes for their families.
Each of these twelve women are in extreme poverty. They live very much by faith. Each of the twelve falls into one or more of the following categories: widowed mother of children, AIDS victim, orphan without any family to help or support. These women are thrilled with the opportunity to study a skill and support themselves and their children.
Love Alive now has a sewing center for these women. It is my hope that at the end of the year, not only will these women be fully skilled and ready to begin their new trade, but we will be able to provide each with her own sewing machine to begin her small business.
Due to your generosity, 12 women are now on their way to a better life.