This hunger. This struggle. This was not what she wanted their futures to look like. She wanted them to eat every day. She wanted good jobs for each of them.
Really, she wanted them to have the kind of life that was only possible with an education.
Her three youngest children were in school, at least some of the time. Finances made it hard to keep them there with perfect regularity. But now . . . her grandson, her little Bret, was three. It was time for him to start school. Time for him to build the foundation he’d need to succeed in life. And yet, although she’d welcomed her grandson into her family and taken on the responsibility of raising him, she could not give Bret the education he desperately needed. But God saw Bret and Idalene. And He had plans for a hope and a future for them.
It just so happened that our first missionaries on the ground in Rwanda were beginning a child sponsorship program in Idalene’s area. Program staff and local government officials had started the process of identifying some of the most vulnerable and needy families in the community as candidates for sponsorship and enrollment in the program. As a mother and grandmother supporting 4 young children without regular employment, Idalene’s was one of the families they identified as most in need of help. They invited her to bring Bret to enrollment day so that they could include him as a student in the program.
When the big day arrived, Idalene, with Bret in tow, joined other parents at the office where registration was happening. It was crowded, but she was ready to wait. After some time, Idalene was directed to the enrollment desk. Her excitement grew as she watched the staff write Bret’s name on the list, officially giving him a place in the child sponsorship project.
Walking home along red dirt roads, Idalene burst into songs of praise, thanking God for what He had done for her and for Bret.
Idalene hasn’t stopped thanking God, either. As she puts it:
“I really thank God because my grandson is studying. And now I am really comfortable with all the things with Bret. … [If] they were not going to take Bret, it would be [a] really, really hard life here.”
But they did take Bret.
That’s what is so powerful about Idalene’s story. True, it’s a story of a grandmother raising her grandson. But it’s also a story of the local church reaching out to their community. It’s a story of child sponsors like you loving a child they’ve never met.
It’s a story of partnership.
And you know what’s really exciting? This story of partnership is repeating over and over in countries where thousands of families face similar struggles. While little Bret has been growing and learning (he’s about five now and thriving in the program!) our field partners have been working hard to open more projects so even more children and their families can have hope. It’s not just Bret anymore. In the past three months, more than 1,500 children from communities across Rwanda have joined the sponsorship program. Because of your partnership, these children can be registered and helped immediately, and thousands more families can say, along with Idalene, “I thank God for the opportunity He gave us.”
Thank you for showing families like Idalene’s that God sees them and that He cares.