Impact Hope - Rewanda
Impact Hope - Rwanda - Students in Tailoring Class                                                              See More Photos >>

Donate. Now. Hurry!
By Dick Duerksen

Yesterday I received a 50¢ piece in the mail. “We are sending you this coin to remind you that you have been called on to give far more…”

It seems that every “non-profit” has our address and is dedicated to committing harassment until we finally break down and GIVE! So, we gave. Now we’re getting even more letters, each with photos of wounded warriors, starving children, or well-coiffed celebrities whose visages should convince me to give.

We do not give.

No one notices, and the harassment continues.

If you cannot convince me to give without enclosing a calendar, a dream-catcher, a pocket Bible, or a half-dollar, your cause must be pretty weak. If you’ve hired a big company to market your product, count us out. We don’t support marketing firms.

We choose to give only when we are certain that our money will directly help a child, bring healing, offer hope, provide safety, or help someone feel the touch of Jesus.

If your appeal is simple, inexpensive, and direct, and if you tell us up front that at least 90% of our donation goes “to the kids,” then we’ll open your appeal.

Like the card we received from Impact Hope (IH).

The cover is a photo of Elizabeth Mukamana. A 19-year-old girl from the Gihembe Refugee Camp in Rwanda. Elizabeth was born in the camp and earned her 9th grade education in an elementary school operated by the United Nations, the Rwandan government, and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).

Elizabeth’s parents fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo when Hutu tribesmen were murdering every Tutsi tribesman they could find. Then, as the genocide slowed in Rwanda, many of the Hutus slipped away into the Congo, where they continued their genocidal destruction.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Tutsis fled again, this time to one of five “safe camps” offered by the United Nations and the Rwandan government.

That was 24 years ago, and though the genocide is now history, the Tutsi families are still corralled in the camps where they exist on handouts from the government, the UN, and a constantly-changing alphabet of non-profits. Today, ADRA and Impact Hope are partnering to develop a safe pathway for a high school education and job-ready vocational training for students in the camps. Students like Elizabeth.

There are no jobs for 9th grade graduates, and Elizabeth wanted to continue learning. The government offered high school classes, but Elizabeth and the other students had to walk 7 kilometers from the camp to reach the school. The path was dangerous, and often the girls were attacked as they ran home from school.

Enter Impact Hope! After considerable negotiating, IH was able to offer Elizabeth free high school at an Adventist boarding academy. Elizabeth was one of the first 200 students to be selected from the 20,000 youth in the camps. Today she is studying mathematics, economy, geography, and Bible and is one of 411 high-school students who IH sponsored through the current school year.

“For your $600 USD contribution, each student will receive tuition for a full school year, plus books, insurance, board, room, a Bible, school uniforms, mosquito bed net, and bedding. That also provides the students a ‘way of escape’ from the refugee camps, and an opportunity to become active witnesses for God in their country. It gives them HOPE for a future.”

There’s more. Over the Christmas holidays, Impact Hope brought 16 volunteers from the North Pacific and other parts of the US to open the first Adventist Vocational School in Rwanda. Several hundred students were bused to the Gitwe Adventist College (high school level) campus for training in hairdressing, domestic electric power installations and domestic maintenance, tailoring, plumbing, and, most popular of all – a course in permaculture; learning to plant, cultivate, and harvest food crops for maximum yield.

Additional donors have now made it possible for the Vocational Courses to be taught year-round, and as there are now 561 students in the high school program.

“Thank you for your support,” Elizabeth writes to her Oregon sponsors. “I am studying hard and hope to study in a technical school when I graduate next year. My dream is to help others who don’t have anything.”

$600 is a lot of 50c pieces, but sometimes it’s easy to give.