I'm not great at explaining things. Often times, I just assume certain things are common knowledge. But I realize that my experiences over the last 3 years have opened my eyes and my heart to a world I couldn't have fathomed before. Those experiences ignited a passion within me that propels my every day. I read and research, I seek out friends and mentors with like passions and experiences, as we all do, and I forget what I didn't know. You see, God rejoices in small beginnings. And I believe he takes what we offer him and multiplies it beyond what we would have ever comprehended.
So, I wonder if you know. I wonder if you know that what you are doing matters.
Sometimes people say nice things to me about starting No.41, and I think that's really kind, but starting it was not the hard part. I often wonder if you know that none of this would be possible without your support. And I do mean YOU, sweet reader. You because you bought a bag. You because you shared a link and 3 of your friends bought tshirts. You because you sponsored a child. You because you offered your talents. We can't sustain or grow this without you.
There is a community in Rwanda that is being changed by the efforts of No.41. There are formerly unemployed women and men, working and providing for their families. We don't give them everything we think they need, but we give them a skill, and hope, and love, and the chance to work for themselves and to give back to students in their area.
There is a school that had 250 students enrolled before our feeding program came along. Today, 1,100 students strong, they are bursting at seams and turning students away. For many, they have come to school to eat. Possibly their only meal of the day. I have met with mothers and fathers who couldn't say thank you enough, because they could only afford to feed the youngest in their families, and now, to know their older children were provided for, they felt relieved. I would say that not only are the students provided for, but they are being educated. The hope they feel for the future is palpable. And it's spreading.
There is another school, who has been asking to be fed from the beginning, whose parents have joined together to try and do what they can to also provide lunch for their students. They have seen what this one meal is doing at our school, what it means for the students, the families, and the future of Rwanda. They have gathered what they have and it's just not enough. Y'all, we can meet this need. We can pull our community together and partner with a community on the other side of the world. Because we believe that where you live shouldn't define how you live. And no matter where you are, food should never be too much to ask. We believe that, right?
Can I be frank, for a moment here? I love you because you're reading this, and I hope you love me, too.... Well, because you're reading this. I appreciate your kind words; they mean so much to me and some days are really tough and a kind word goes a long way. I love it when you like our posts at No.41; it would be embarrassing if no one ever did. I am so thankful when you share a post with your friends. So, please don't think for a second that I'm not. The problem is, I can't feed your words, or your likes, or your shares to the students in Rwanda. Please don't click away.
We are kicking off a new and very short campaign in an effort to get this school sponsored. It costs just $5/month to feed a student lunch every day. $5 A MONTH. Many of us won't even miss that. Many of us could budget 2-3 children into our monthly line-up without even blinking an eye. I know y'all hear stuff all the time; this world is off her rocker and there are no less than a million "issues" asking for your heart, your partnership, your dollars. But I would just ask you stop and digest, that the cost of A Starbucks drink a month, you could feed a student and drastically change a life. If just half of those of you who are reading this post could spare $10 a month, we could feed an entire school in Rwanda.
Would you do that today?
**photos by Alison Holcomb