This time last year, after living at the orphanage for six months, I had a pretty lengthy list of annoyances. Things that would never fly at home and areas that I felt maybe I could make some small difference. After a lot of prayer and seeking wise counsel, I decided that my heart was with the, often forgotten, oldest girls at the orphanage (ages 18-24). Most of these girls had finished secondary school, but didn't have the money for university, and had no real life or jobs skills to get them out of the orphanage, so they sat in their rooms all day. Every day. It was important to me not just to be able to teach these girls a culturally relevant trade, but to show them that their life has value, that they were created for a purpose. We all have God-given gifts and talents and with that, we are all called to give back. And that's how the feeding program was born.
In our village, we have 4 main public schools. The primary (elementary) students all go half-day, so most will either eat lunch before or after school. The secondary students (Jr. High and High school) go all day, 7a-3p, and most don't eat lunch. The schools can't afford to provide food, but they do offer a 20-minute break, so any students that live close enough can go home to eat. Most do not. The effects of not eating a healthy lunch are far-reaching, not just on the body, but on the developing mind. How different would the education system here be if these kids could focus on their studies and not their growling bellies?
Soooo, there you go. So much of what we do now has developed over time. Had I known all of this would be on, what feels like, my shoulders, I would have run the other way. Even the small amount I did know felt like too much, which is why the business is called No.41, meaning FOR ONE. We are doing this thing one at time. That's what I tell myself, anyway. But ONE has become 32 young women with sustainable jobs. ONE has become 17 girls enrolled in university. ONE has become 650 students eating a hot, healthy lunch starting in January.
When this business began, we had very little money, a small dream, and a whole lot of faith. Today, nine months later, we have very little money, a large and growing dream, and even more faith. We have seen God move mountains for the girls and these children, but there is still a long way to go. And we need your help. Here's where we are heading over the next few months: A $41,000 campaign to continue changing lives! (Yes, $41,000 was a happy accident.) The breakdown looks like this:
Living expenses $4000 (through July)
University fees and boarding (4 girls/one year)$6,000
Rent 2 houses (one year) $6,000
Machines and chairs (13) $1,700
Furniture (workspace/storage) $1500
Burlap $2000 (1month)
Screen-printing supplies $500
Hire sewing instructor (1month) $500
Shipping (bags from Rwanda to US) $2000
Tags for bags $900
12 Ovens $1000
Cooking staff (one year) $6000
Pots and pans/dishes (for 750) $1500
Cafeteria furniture $2000
I know many of your are preparing for the holidays and a campaign like this seems daunting, but every little bit helps. Every single dollar goes so far. Maybe you could get together with a few friends and buy a sewing machine ($116) or two, or maybe your lifegroup could team up to raise funds and pay university fees for one girl for one year ($1500). Maybe a group of your coworkers could contribute to the website. Maybe your family is crazy (in the very best way) and you would like to set up a monthly donation to pay the salaries of the entire cook staff ($6000) for a year. I don't know what it looks like, but I believe it's possible.
I am so inspired by these girls, every day. By their passion and their, new found, hope for the future. This thing has only just begun!! You guys have been my backbone through this whole thing, whether you knew it or not. Your prayers, your encouraging words, your support, mean so much. Please keep them coming. I love you and I am so thankful for you! To make a donation click on 'donate' at the top of this page.