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From despair to hope: making life better for families in poverty

Peter Wooding unpacks how a new initiative from Samaritan’s Purse is bringing a new future for Rwandan families stuck in poverty …

PETER WOODING unpacks how a new initiative from Samaritan’s Purse is bringing a new future for Rwandan families stuck in poverty …

What else would make the world a more peaceful, content, secure and happier place to live than stronger families?

Families that come in all shapes, sizes, colours and patterns – single parent families, orphan-headed households, extended families, families with adopted and fostered children, families that are imperfect, struggling, and challenged yet are being strengthened to be the bedrock of society.

Jeanne’s family in Rwanda – where 47% live in extreme poverty – is a classic example of this. She is a 42-year-old single parent and the sole provider for her six siblings and six children, two of her own and four belonging to one of her sisters. At a young age she is already a widow who knows what desperation is.

How do you provide for 13 people when you have nothing? What is the future for Jeanne and her family? How will they survive?

Families like hers often live on less than 80p a day, facing constant battles just for their basic needs – food to eat, a roof over their heads and basic healthcare.

Many parents leave home to find work elsewhere. Or they turn to drugs and alcohol for temporary respite. Or they are forced to leave their children to the care of an institution or relatives because the daily struggle is too much.

A quiet revolution

However, there is a quiet revolution taking place in Rwanda, a revolution of hope through the local church. Right across the country 550 churches are being mobilised to impact the lives of 10,300 families.

Jeanne explains: “Because I was the oldest member of the family at the age of 27 when our parents passed away, I had to take responsibility for everyone and it was so traumatising taking care of so many children and my siblings. But the support I received from my church gave me hope for a better future.”

First of all they gave her some food to help her through in the short term, but more importantly they loaned her enough money to start a small shop. Her first purchase was two bags of charcoal which she bought and then resold.

Now her shop is thriving and she has diversified, selling sugar, flour, tomatoes, rice, beans and potatoes. And of course more charcoal. She is also part of a savings group “which not only helps me practically but it’s also a place where we can pray together and share each other’s stories and experiences”.

From small beginnings she can now look after her family, and has taken out health insurance to provide for their medical needs. Jeanne and her family have also committed their lives to Christ and joined the local church.

“Now I no longer need to wait for my church to help pay for my children’s school fees. I can pay for them myself from my own businesses.

“The fact that my life has been changed through this help is an encouragement to others that good things can happen. People knew me before I accepted the Lord, when I was leading a very broken life without hope and with no friends, but people say if this lady changed, they can also change.”

Currently, Samaritan’s Purse is equipping local churches across 12 countries, enabling over 30,000 families like Jeanne’s to have a hope and a future.

These churches are demonstrating care and compassion to the broken families around them, helping them rebuild their houses destroyed by war, planting their fields ravaged by flooding, starting small businesses to pay the bills, sending their children to school and practising good hygiene to keep disease away.

Together with local people, Raising Families is enabling families to be the answer to the problem of poverty, to find a brighter future for themselves, their children, their communities and their nations.


Will you join Samaritan’s Purse in Raising Families around the world that are stronger, more united, and more able to plan their futures? Your church (UK only) can get involved by ordering Raising Families Harvest Packs, which have more inspiring stories, videos and church service ideas to make Harvest this year one that has a global impact.

To order your pack go online at, call 0208 559 2044 or e-mail us at

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