Oh, Frank Pass. Frank was my Visiting Orphans team leader when I came to Rwanda (and Ethiopia) for the very first time. I think Frank thought I was crazy. I think he still does.
But I think we get each other now. :)
One of the last days on trip (2 years ago!), Frank said that I reminded him of one of his daughters. Shortly after I moved to Rwanda, I got email from Frank saying that I felt like one of his daughters. And that is how he has treated me ever since. Frank is encouraging and protective and such a huge supporter of No.41.
He and his wife Robin sponsor one of our girls, Amelie, and are the poster family for what sponsorship should look like. When Amelie was asking for a "hot, white man" to be her sponsor, Frank swooped right in and claimed his spot. What Amelie was really asking for (in her own hilarious way) was a dad and what she got was an entire family! Dad, mom, 3 sisters, and a baby brother. And we have ALL been so blessed to see God's plan come together.
Frank, I could throw in so many inside jokes here, but I'll just let you tell your story....
Hope. That’s what comes to mind when I think of No. 41. It is a place that brings hope.
I have the opportunity to visit many orphanages and organizations that minister to orphans and there is one thing that most of them have in common. A lack of hope. There is a hopelessness to being an orphan. An orphan rarely says, “everything will work out”, because it seldom has. An orphan rarely looks to the future with hope because there is little in their past to cause them to do so.
I remember the first time I visited Noel orphanage. It is easy to become overwhelmed. Over 500 kids, all of them orphans, and so many needs. The babies tug at your heart strings but it’s the older ones that devastate you. You look in their eyes and you see it, or rather you don’t. It’s a lack of hope.
That’s what makes No. 41 so special. It’s a place that brings hope to the hopeless. I have had the privilege of visiting Tara, Alison, and the No. 41 girls several times and their eyes are filled with hope. Their eyes have joy. Their eyes look to the future with expectancy. These are not the same girls I saw at Noel just a year before. These girls are full of life. These girls have hope.
|Catching Amelie up on family photos...|
We all know how cool the bags are. They are stylish and they’re great conversation starters. We all know how one bag feeds one child for one year and we all know how these bags provide an income to the girls who make them, but it’s so much more than that. These bags bring hope. And hope matters.
I wish that everyone could see the excitement in the faces of the girls when a group of visitors arrives. I wish you could see the pride in their eyes when they realize that we are here to buy something that they made. And that’s the key. These girls are not taking handouts. They’ve created something and it’s something that people want and because they’ve done it once, they now know they can do it again. Many of these girls are now enrolled in university and they know that they will succeed because they already have. They believe their future can be bright because they can now look in their past and see light.