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 early days of TVM and the process used to hire and empower our first employees.
When TVM 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 TVM 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 TVM 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 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 TVM 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 TVM. This would change her life and the life of her children forever. The first day the ladies were hired, it was apparent to the TVM staff that Odette was pregnant. She told them 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 TVM as being in need, she was provided shelter for her family. Once she was employed, she knew a life of stability – she earned a fair wage with which she could provide food for her family. Because TVM pays all education-related fees, Odette’s children were able to attend school. Odette now knows that 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 TVM, Diana Wiley. Since baby Diana was born during the first year of the TVM program, we now have a beautiful benchmark for the years of success of the TVM program. Diana is now a thriving 11-year-old girl. She is close to all of the TVM ladies and has many “mamas” to call her own. And, in her eleven years, Diana has never known what it is like to go through her day hungry. She has never known what it is like to go without an education. She has never been forced to hide under her mother’s skirt to escape a leaky roof.
Diana is living, breathing evidence of what it looks like when the poverty cycle is shattered. And today, June 28th, happens to be this sweet young lady’s birthday.
Happy Birthday, Diana. We are so blessed by you and the joy you bring to everyone at True Vineyard Ministries.