So many inspiring stories come out of Rwanda and Umuzabibu Mwiza,, our facility for True Vineyard Ministries. The story of the employment of Odette and the subsequent birth of her daughter, Diana, is too precious not to share.
But first, a little background on the very early days of True Vineyard Ministries and the process used to hire and empower our first employees.
When True Vineyard Ministries was founded in 2007, the game plan was to employ ten women living in and around Susa Village to build the foundation for the Handspun Hope brand. The vision of True Vineyard Ministries looked beyond offering employment to women directly affected by the atrocities of the Genocide against the Tutsi. We wanted to provide shelter, health care, education, and trauma counseling to every employee. The goal of True Vineyard Ministries was to restore dignity to these ten women and move them into economic self –sufficiency so they could become leaders of change within their families and surrounding communities.
So we got to work. In mid 2007, we began the process of reaching out to local churches asking for help in identifying of the poorest of the poor. We wanted to start with the women who were in the greatest need. As we started down the long road of identifying potential employees, we also began setting up permanent housing for these women through land acquisition and home construction.
And this is when we met the lovely Odette. Odette is a survivor of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Her story is somewhat unique in that her husband survived the atrocities of war but was left severely traumatized and unable to provide for his family. Odette received her first gift from True Vineyard Ministries in February of 2008 when a house was built for her on a plot of land owned by her family.
Odette was grateful to have a safe space to raise her family. Her previous home had a roof that was disintegrating and when it would rain, her children would run under her skirts for protection from the storm. Months later, in mid-summer, Odette was offered employment with True Vineyard Ministries. This would change her life and the life of her children forever. The first day the ladies were hired, it was apparent to the True Vineyard Ministries staff that Odette was pregnant. She told them that she was due in three or four months. It is important to remember that when you are truly poverty stricken, you have absolutely no concept of time and are completely focused on your next meal, where your shelter will come from, and whether your children have enough water to survive the day.
Your focus is on survival.
Odette came to work the very first day of her employment and, to everyone’s surprise, delivered her baby the very next. So many beautiful blessings can be learned from Odette’s story. Once she was identified by True Vineyard Ministries as being in need, she was provided with shelter for her family. Once she was employed, she knew the life of stability—she earned a fair wage with which she could provide food for her entire family. Because True Vineyard Ministries pays all education-related fees, Odette’s children were able to attend school. Odette now knows she is in control of her family and her future.
Perhaps the greatest blessing of Odette’s story has been watching her baby grow. She named the baby Diana in honor of the founder of True Vineyard Ministries, Diana Wiley. Since baby Diana was born during the first year of the True Vineyard Ministries program, we now have a beautiful benchmark for the years of success of the True Vineyard Ministries program. Diana is now a thriving 11-year-old girl. And, in her eleven years, Diana has never known what it is like to go through a day hungry. She has never known what it is like to go without education. She has never been forced to hide under her mother’s skirt to escape a leaky roof.
She is living, breathing evidence of what it looks like when the poverty cycle is shattered. We are so blessed to be able to directly see the effect on an individual life through the benefits of the True Vineyard Ministries program.
Photo credit--Abbey Henderson
Please help us to say a big “Happy 11th Birthday” to baby Diana today.