Local Social Worker Brings In-Depth Training to Our Staff

It was a big prayer, and it was answered! As the ministry’s needs have grown, the staff's responsibilities have grown as well.  Back in August 2017, we received the funds for our staff in DRC to finally complete a long-wished-for training, and this month we got to see more fruits from that large training. A social worker from Rwanda who has been consulting with us spent a week with the staff and the children during that time.  She taught our staff a new curriculum for mentoring the youth, but also crucial social work skills, evaluation techniques and curriculum for support groups with the reunified and reintegrated families.  The support groups began this month, after intense planning and preparation. We are encouraged by our staff's leadership with these families and what this means to the community.  Not only are children being cared for through sponsorship, but entire families are becoming change makers in their community when it comes to orphan care. Our hope is that we see the expansion of the family reintegration side of the ministry in 2018.  The families who have taken in children need support in many ways.  We wish to implement a second phase to this side of the ministry, which is to facilitate and connect the families to income generating trainings and opportunities like raising animals, sewing, bread making, gardening, art and other handiwork.  We have a volunteer grant writer working hard to gain funding for this second phase. Pray for this big prayer with us for 2018!


Raising up Family Members

I take for granted what I learned just by growing up in a family.  As a young mother, I also take for granted what my children pick up on just by being a part of the family I’m now building.  I think of the needs that were met for me and the ones I meet for my kids.  There are of course, the basic ones. Each day I wake up my kids, I feed them, clothe them, hug them, drive him to school or change her diaper.  Then there are the more intricate and unseen needs of my son and daughter.  I laugh at his superhero jokes and I coo back at her as she learns her voice.  They sit around the dinner table during our conversations, picking up on the nuances of communication, how to comfort one another with thoughtful words, adjust one’s attitude, listen, respond and react appropriately.  They’re learning skills for their lives every minute of the day.  They are learning how to handle big emotions, let downs, good days, and bad days.  A redirection here, a small lesson in the kitchen there, each little lesson adding up to a whole person.  Lessons about money, safety, human touch, food, choices, hygiene, tone of voice, self control, hard work, every necessary skill we need to be successful humans is taught within the construct of a family.    


Being raised by a family and being a “family member” just seems matter-of-fact. It isn’t something I had to search for, worry about, or dream about, only to wake up without one.  I never knew life outside of my role as a daughter.  I never longed to be someone’s daughter.  I have no reference point to measure what it feels like or what life could be like without the attention, love, support and lessons of a family, even an imperfect one. Lately, as I see the faces of the children we support at Family Bethlehem, I have wondered, what would have become of me without the care of a family? I see myself in their faces.  Would I have acquired the most basic skills necessary to meet and get along with people, hold a meaningful conversation, get a job, cook food, clean my house……would I have a house now? I try to imagine who I would be today as a 31 year old.  I am wife, mother, and teacher.  But what would I be if I had grown up as an orphan, let alone grown up as an orphan under a government that didn’t find it within its ability to provide me with food and clean water, let alone an education or access to a foster family.  What if I had grown up as an orphan in a country with no social safety nets and was left to care for myself?  


The phrase, “But for the grace of God, there go I,” repeats in my mind often.  I hear it most when I think of the children and mothers we support in DRC.  I never did anything to deserve a family growing up.  I was born into one that remained my family forever.  I owe most of who I am and what I have to their raising. If it had been different for me, If I had been without a family, would someone have fought for me to have my basic needs met or to find a family to raise me? Maybe an organization would have made it their goal to meet my needs, provide me access to education,  food, hope--a future.  “But for the grace of God, there go I,” reminds me I am blessed, not because of anything I have done.  It compels me to impact as many lives as I can with my time, money and talents. 


We know from the extensive research and writing out there and our own experience with orphans in DRC, that orphanages are not a solution for a child.  They do not have the capacity to teach, grow, nurture, prepare and launch a child into a successful life.  Reeds of Hope is determined to teach mothers in Kinshasa the trades and skills they need to provide for their children so they do not have to face the decision of leaving their child at an orphanage.  Similarly, we are determined to care for the children who have been orphaned at Family Bethlehem in Eastern DRC.  We will continue to provide for their needs, including education, and find and train up loving, local Congolese adoptive families to raise them as a family member, the way God intends. 


We need people like you to help us continue this work.  What does a family try to do? They try to set up a child for success and currently we are in most need of sponsors for our students who want to attend a university, thus getting the ultimate opportunity to become independent and contribute to their community.  This is $40 dollars a month.  It would normally cost $80 a month for one student, but we have split that in two to allow two sponsors to share the cost of sending one child.  We have been able to get them through school because of faithful sponsors, and now we hope to get them through university!  Please visit the "Projects" tab to learn more about all our work, then visit the "Take Action" tab, pray for us and give where you feel most compelled.

Sarah Calvo is our Sponsorship and Education coordinator in the East. E-mail her at roh.fb.sponsorship@gmail.com with any questions or to learn more. 

Nakazuba is waiting to begin university because she needs a sponsor. She wants to study business management.

High School Seniors

Summer is upon us and for our students in DRC, one big event, one they may never have thought they would have a chance to experience, is upon them.  That event is for our high school seniors, or "finalists" as they say in DRC.  Join us in prayer for them as they begin their state exams on Monday which will last four days.  These exams are required for the seniors to receive their diplomas. Our staff in DRC have been working to prepare them all year and the students themselves have worked so hard.  Imagine the difference your support has made! Orphaned children with no hope to attend school are now taking their state exams, preparing to enter their worlds as productive members of society. It is these momentous events that remind us again just how special these young men and women are--and just how honored we are to be a part of their stories, supporting them in fulfilling their God-given potential. We thank you so much, and ask you to join us as we pray this weekend and next week for them to do well! 

An Interview with our Founder

 Holly Mulford started Reeds of Hope in 2010 while living in Eastern Congo with her family. Her leadership and vision are an inspiration to all of us- read on as she shares her heart. 

Holly Mulford started Reeds of Hope in 2010 while living in Eastern Congo with her family. Her leadership and vision are an inspiration to all of us- read on as she shares her heart. 

What compels you to invest in Congo?

We lived in Eastern DRC for 4 1/2 years.  During that time I grew to admire, respect, and love the Congolese people that we were privileged to know.  I saw the exploitation of the vulnerable and the lack of justice that prevented the people of DRC to lead lives where basic human rights were present.  I was humbled by the work of the Congolese women and men I met, to help each other in any way they could, despite insurmountable odds.  I was convicted that we all our the hands and feet of Jesus in this world, and perhaps there was a way I could join in their work of showing God's love to their neighbor--serving the poor and vulnerable, bringing light into darkness, and hope in times of despair.  In end end, how could I not invest in Congo?  

What is one of the most redemptive moments you’ve experienced working with ROH?

There are many moments, but one of the more memorable moments was when we were contacted by someone who knew of a baby that was orphaned (mother had died) and being cared for a very aged and sickly grandmother.  The baby was ill and starving, she was taken in by Mama Sifa for about 9 months and loved well.  Then a search was done to see if any other family would care for her--they would not.  So, another Congolese family came forward to adopt her and she is now living with this family--loved and thriving. 

What is a way you’ve seen God work through this organization?

I have seen so many doors open (and some painfully close) to serve God with amazing women and men in DRC.  Even when we wonder how we will fund the dreams and hopes of our partners, we just keep trusting that God will provide if we are faithful in our work.  I have especially loved three parts of our programs as they've grown over the past few years.  In Kinshasa, watching vulnerable women learn a trade and given the skills to start a business has been so humbling and rewarding.  In Eastern DRC, sending children to school that would otherwise not be going, and knowing the long term impact for these kids, is something I'm proud we are doing.  And finally, the reunification of 12 children into families is something I will treasure forever.  Most of all, children should know the love of family, that they are deeply and forever loved.  

What have you learned from our Congolese partners

Humility--I have learned that I am a pretty small part of amazing work being done by our Congolese partners.  The work existed before I came along and will exist long after I leave.  I have learned the greatness of the God we serve and the courage of His followers in hard places. 

Faith--I have have been humbled by the deep conviction of our partners and their persistence in believing that God is present and deeply loves them, even when tragedy strikes again and again. 

Sacrifice--I have learned about what it means to lay down your life to serve your God and trust that He has your life completely in His hands. 

Hard Work-- I have learned what it means to work with integrity and honesty in difficult situations with corruption and exploitation often beating on your door. 

Love--I have watched our partners show love and dignity to the smallest and most vulnerable child.  Perhaps the image that sticks with me in this moment was when our eastern DRC director was sitting and chatting with another staff member and a little boy that lived in the orphanage came up and laid his head in his lap and slept.  Or perhaps the image of Mama Sifa taking the babies into her own room and space and making sure they were shown the love of a mother, instead of an orphanage crib.  

What are you most hopeful about for the future?

I am hopeful that through education and the love of family, the children we serve will be the forces of change in DRC.  I am hopeful that the women and their children that are learning job skills will be a force of change in DRC.  I am hopeful that through our Congolese partnerships we can stand in the gap for families that would otherwise break apart in a country that has little to no social safety network.   I am hopeful that we can strengthen the work of our Congolese sisters and brothers who are giving their lives to be the feet and hands of Jesus.  That everyone they touch would know they are deeply loved by God.  

Hope for the Future

Meet Samuel Wakanda

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After my studies, I will become an engineer in agronomy and food for rural development. I will work for the future and good growth of orphaned children in the community.

Samuel is a university student sponsored by Reeds of Hope. We are hoping to set aside some extra money to help him launch a special project at Family Bethlehem to improve the nutrition of the children living there! 

Food Insecurity & Family Bethlehem

Across DRC, children find themselves in orphanages like Family Bethlehem for many reasons. These reasons are complicated and varied, but food insecurity is a significant obstacle to family well being. Across Eastern Congo, 3.6 million children under the age of five are food insecure.

Economic development is limited not only by the security situation but also by the country’s neglected and broken infrastructure. Since 1990 the population has more than doubled. However, during the same period the proportion of land that is cultivated has risen by only 0.1 percent to 11.5 percent, and the country now has a 30-40 percent food production deficit.

DRC’s child mortality rates are among the highest in the world. According to the country’s Demographic and Health Survey 2013-14, 8 percent of children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, and about 43 percent are chronically malnourished and show signs of stunting. In North and South Kivu and Kasaï provinces that figure is around 53 percent.
— World Food Programme

This heavy duty tote was designed by illustrator Jos Lock. She has drawn upon the ancient Congolese proverb, “Little by little grow the bananas,” to create this tote that is as functional as it is inspiring. We hope you will pray for our friends in Eastern Congo as often as you use it!

Your donation helps to pay the school fees for children living at Family Bethlehem. For these students, education would be an inaccessible dream without people like you stepping into pay the compulsory fees. Education provides students with the skills and confidence they need to tackle the challenges they face. Our hope is that the next generation will be empowered to create healthy and stable communities where food is accessible and children can thrive! 

Sarah is our program coordinator for Family Bethlehem. She would love to talk with you about our work in Eastern Congo. Contact her to subscribe to our quarterly updates.

A Single Bracelet

 And these things remain.. Faith, Hope, and Love

1 Corinthians 13:13

Faith/ Foi

Two years ago we began dreaming about what it would look like for women to attend school- to learn to sew and then become employed seamstresses. I have to admit, I was not exactly certain it was possible.  Not because there wasn't belief in the program or the people.  It just felt so intangible.  It felt so big.  And there are always those times when you wonder if maybe other people wouldn't want to jump alongside you.  And yet despite our doubts and worries, women came.  YOU came.  And day by day, class by class, stitch by stitch....the learning and the growing began.  Women were there learning while nursing their new babies.  They walked for miles each day to attend class.  Rain or shine they showed up. We have faith that we can provide scholarships to MORE women who are knocking on the door and begging for scholarships. Women are waiting, and we have faith God will provide.

 Students thriving at the sewing center

Students thriving at the sewing center

Hope/ L’espoir

In DRC, there is a desperate need for sustainable jobs in order for families to stay together. Our goal is to prevent any mother from having to make the decision to leave her children due to poverty. Currently, there 8 mothers attending Sewing Training hoping for greater opportunities for their families. Soon to be graduate and mother of four, Sarah has hope for the future.  Hope to become a business owner and become financially independent to support her family. Thank you for helping us empower mothers like Sarah to provide for their children with respect and dignity.  Not only are the mothers in the program thriving and growing but so are the children that are in their care!  Hope begets hope begets hope begets hope.  Because you gave hope to Sarah, Sarah is giving hope to her four children.

 Sarah’s children often attend Sewing Training with her. She now has HOPE for the future.

Sarah’s children often attend Sewing Training with her. She now has HOPE for the future.

Love/ Amour

Although One Thread started as a program to support Mothers, we have expanded to so much more. We are proud to support young girls in the community, some as young as 15. The training will equip these young women with the skills and the tools to eventually launch their own business.  Due to generous donations, One Thread has been able to provide a nutritious meal for each of the 21 women in the Sewing School. We see this as more than a simple meal. We see this as one small way to serve and love these vulnerable and valuable women.  We also are able to love on our seven graduates and provide each one of them with their very own Sewing machine.  We want to show love to more women and provide a way for sustainable income.

 Community meals are shared by the women. Each of the seven graduates received their own sewing machines!

Community meals are shared by the women. Each of the seven graduates received their own sewing machines!

"A Single Bracelet Does Not Jingle"

- Congolese Proverb

What is next for One Thread Project? The need is endless in a place with few opportunities, especially for women.  Not only do we believe in Faith, Hope, and Love, we also believe in the power of dreaming. Just as we began dreaming the vision for One Thread two year ago, we have dreams of helping more women in the community by providing them with the same Faith, Hope and Love we have been able to show day by day to the women we are currently serving. We have big dreams for the future of One Thread…. more scholarships, sewing machines for all graduates, formal business training, providing school tuition for young children.  With the team in Kinshasa, we are dreaming for the future. We have partnered with the talented designed at Cotton + Chrome to offer these beautiful handcrafted Congolese Bracelets.

All proceeds will go directly to providing scholarships for young women to attend Emmanuel sewing school and to support our graduates as they begin to launch their own businesses. 




Celebrating Families

We are celebrating that two more children have been reintegrated into families! Bitondo has been reintegrated into her extended biological family and Sifa has been adopted into a loving, local Congolese family! This is the long and worthy work we strive toward-- for children to grow up in families, not orphanages. Our Eastern DRC manager and social worker will diligently follow up with these placements and shepherd the families as they grow together. These two young girls will now learn and grow under the protection and love of a family, something that every child deserves. Thank you for supporting this work! 


This has been hard work! We first set out to develop training for our staff in Bukavu since this was new work for them. We contracted with a highly skilled social worker from Kigali named Souvenir to help us through this process. Last fall, our staff from Bukavu received training in Kigali, Rwanda on how to assess children and families and how to create care plans toward reintegration. It’s our great desire to see Congolese families rise up and care for the vulnerable children in their communities, and we want to walk beside them. Our staff returned to Bukavu excited to begin.


The truth is that Congolese families have been caring for orphans long before orphanages ever existed. Churches and organizations in the West – with the best of intentions – continue to build and support orphanages. Unfortunately, some of the unintended consequences of these efforts have resulted in families choosing orphanages as options for children who are not truly orphans but only in response to poverty. 

So our first task was to asses the children to determine the details of their stories – where did they come from, who are their families, and would they be good candidates for immediate reintegration. Our staff began the long process of assessing 81 children. 

As expected, many of the children do have biological family members who chose to place the children in orphanages due to the death of a parent or extreme poverty. Others are not able to return to their biological families, and so it was necessary to begin to identify Christian families in Eastern DRC who would volunteer to add a child to their existing family. 

Our staff met with many families to discuss the challenges, both financial and cultural. It’s our desire to identify families who are willing and able to lovingly welcome children as their own. 

We are excited to report that 10 children have been placed in 9 families. Five children were placed with a member of their biological family, and volunteer families took in five children.

To ensure that the children are receiving adequate care, we will continue to meet with the families weekly, provide social support, facilitate group therapy, and determine long-term care plans for the children. In some cases, we will want to provide financial support to the families in order to reduce the likelihood that the child will again be placed in an orphanage due to poverty. We want to provide sustainable help, like farm animals or job training. Reeds of Hope will continue to sponsor these children so that they can attend school.

You can partner in this work to keep children in families! The proceeds from our Christmas fundraising will go toward more training for our staff as well as support for these ten families. We believe that continuing to develop this program will have lasting impact on children and families in Eastern DRC!

School Fees & University

Report by Amanda Bennett, project manager & board member

In 2015, Reeds of Hope began to partner with Family Bethlehem in Bukavu, a group foster home run by Mama Sifa and Papa Jerome. Mama Sifa has been taking in vulnerable children as long as she’s been able. In addition to sponsoring children for school fees, Reeds of Hope partnered with Family Bethlehem in order to help reintegrate children into families. 


For the 2016 school year, Reeds of Hope – with your incredible support - sponsored 90 kids in nursery, primary, and secondary school! Praise God that these children are being educated. Education leads to empowerment and opportunities for children growing up in such hard places. We would like to keep sponsoring these children in 2017. The cost for tuition and supplies has increased so we will need to add sponsors to keep up this rate. We are trusting that God will continue to provide for all our needs.



At the beginning of 2016, we were able to sponsor a group young adults from Family Bethlehem to attend university. They dream of careers that will transform their community and are nothing short of inspirational! Samuel is studying agronomy, hoping to teach farmers to grow enough food that no mouth will go hungry.  Mungu is learning about waste management and environmental protection. He wants to help combat issues like deforestation, climate change, and poaching. Musole is at a trade school working on auto maintenance and heavy machinery operation. Citera plans to become a journalist, though he wants to teach too. His university guarantees him a job teaching upon graduation. Jean Luis is on his way to becoming a civil engineer. Samuel wants to become an ophthalmologist so he can help the young orphaned children who God loves. Mirindi  shares, " I will become a lawyer to combat impunity and discrimination of orphaned, destitute, and neglected people in society." Mois is studying accounting and wants to help those who have nothing. 


This year, we have started a mentoring component of our work with the adolescents and young adults at Family Bethlehem. Our staff has been meeting with the young men and women separately each month to educate and counsel them on risk areas and encourage them to make healthy choices that will support their growth and development. The youth are also given the opportunity to discuss areas of concern and ask questions in a safe environment.

We also led a three-day retreat with a group of adolescents and young adults in July. The group discussed the role of relationships and how to love each other well as well as the importance of prayer. It was a great time of community and sharing among the children!

The Christmas Auction is here!!!

We are thrilled to bring you this year's Christmas Auction! Featuring beautiful, handmade items from all over Africa, your participation will benefit the children of Eastern DRC. Throughout the weekend, we will be sharing the amazing work that is happening with our partners at Family Bethlehem. From education to family reunification, children are finding hope! Over the past year, our expenses have risen significantly. The cost of school fees and supplies have increased and several new initiatives have been launched to support the emotional,  mental, spiritual, and physical health of the children.  Your support will allow us to continue this important work!  

Each item shown has been donated, which means 100% of your purchase will directly benefit Family Bethlehem! The auction is being hosted on Facebook. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. It opens today and will close at 6 pm EST on Monday, November 7. 

That Night

guest post by Holly D

That night began just like every other night in Kinshasa for me. The lamps bathed the compound in an orange glow, a calm settled in as the hotel guests retreated into their rooms and the staff headed home. I placed a small glass of wine accompanied by a tiny square of chocolate next to my jumbo sized bottle of mosquito repellent. Wrapping myself in a light jacket, I curled up on the plastic chair to take in the night. The sounds of the city- horns honking, music blaring, thunder clouds rolling. Those nights were a kind of magic, a luxury. The time of the day I knew my phone wouldn't ring, the hours reminding me that tomorrow was a new day, full of hope and possibility. 

A horn honked twice and I heard the night guard roll the gate open. The gravel crunched as heavy tires pulled up the drive. I recognized the white SUV, the man was a frequent guest at the hotel- he worked for an NGO. He was gruff, seldom friendly. Once, when I was walking with my son around the hotel grounds, he mumbled to me that the garden outside his room wasn't a kindergarten. We went on our way, but I still smiled when I saw him. That's what you do when you live in a hotel for three months. 

He swung into a parking spot and opened the door. I expected to see him quietly trudge off to his room in the back corner of the compound like he did every other night. Instead, I heard the voices and laughter of three young women. Very, very young women. They clung to his arms as he stumbled across the courtyard to the suite across from my room. The magic of my evening was shattered as I attempted to take in what my eyes had just witnessed. 

The next morning the white SUV was gone. The man's stint in Kinshasa had come to an end and he was being transferred to a new location. The housekeepers went in to clean his room and found the three girls enjoying the luxury of tile floors and soft beds. After a heated exchange, the girls tumbled outside and the staff dragged several Louis Vuitton knock off suitcases out to the curb. Apparently the bags had been part of the consolation prize for his last night in town. They didn't want to leave. It was quiet inside the gate, peaceful. It was green and beautiful. After several hours, the staff finally dragged their bags out to the gate and demanded they get into a waiting taxi. 

I'm not sure I've ever felt so helpless- part of me wanted to call the officials and report a human abuse. But that was laughable- this was just part of life here. When your home is on the street and you have no source of income, you body too easily becomes the commodity. The valuation of currency takes on a whole new meaning when one party knows luxury and the other knows hunger. When one party drives his own car and the other has tiny mouths to feed. When one party eats three meals a day and the other wonders where she'll lay her head at night. 

I wanted to run over and tell each girl that she was beautiful and valuable, that she was loved by a God who sees her and cares for her. But I didn't. Instead, I stood outside my door taking the scene in as silent tears slipped down my cheeks. It wasn't just that I didn't know how to say those words in French or Lingala, it was that the meaning of the words I wanted to share was so much deeper than mere language. 

And so it was that life returned to normal inside my safe little compound. Well, kind of normal. The sweet smelling ylang-ylang trees still swayed in the breeze. The hibiscus still brightened the day with its beautiful blooms. The housekeepers still cleaned my already-clean bathroom and re-made my already-made bed. But every time I looked across the courtyard, their faces haunted me. I knew that lots of kids in the orphanage were the product of an exchange like the one I witnessed the night before. But I had never had to see her face or watch her walk of shame. I had never felt the bile rise in my throat like it did the night he exploited their humanity for his pleasure. My normal was shadowed by a profound sadness. It was something I couldn't un-see, I couldn't not remember. 

Three years later, I still feel sick with that memory. But a tiny piece of it has also been redeemed. When we started our partnership with the One Thread Program, we hoped and prayed that a few young women would be able to escape and avoid that kind of lifestyle for one of dignity and respect. That they would be able to learn the skill of tailoring to start their own small business, earn decent wages, feed their children, and even send them to school. We are beginning to see those prayers answered, and we are beginning to see that this sort of program is something that young women want. That they crave. That they need desperately. Girls are knocking on the door of the school begging for scholarships. They are coming to work as apprentices for a month to prove their commitment and desire to learn before being accepted into the program.

This is the thing that tempers the devastation of what I witnessed on that dark night. It gives me hope that I don't just have to live with that memory, but that maybe there was a purpose to me sitting out in my plastic chair bearing witness to what was done in secret. If it wrecked me, maybe my story would touch the hearts of people who have $10 to throw into a scholarship fund to potentially change the entire trajectory of a young girl’s life. That maybe our prayers will bridge that gap language can’t cross. That maybe God can use us to show young women the peace and beauty that can be found in the light. 

This week, the One Thread Team is hosting a very special event in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you are local, please join us! If you are unable to attend, please visit our website to see how you can still help make a difference for these young women! 



Le Boutique

Thanks to you, we are well on our way to funding the boutique where these young women will find employment and opportunity. Over the past year, these students have worked to refine their skills and learn the art of tailoring. They walked through the door with no knowledge of clothing construction, and today they are designing and creating all on their own. Here is a preview of what they've been up to! Each student constructed her own tailored outfit all by herself! 

Learn more about the One Thread Program! We are currently fundraising to open a boutique adjacent to the sewing school. To make a tax deductible donation, please give here. Thank you!

The Faces of Hope

The One Thread program is about sewing and fabric and fashion. But its also about community and relationships,the thread that weaves and holds us all together. Micheline and Ismael have created a sacred space in the midst of a chaotic neighborhood where young women are finding something that is often illusive in the city of Kinshasa, hope. L'espoir. Read on to see what's happening in the lives of these girls and don't forget to purchase a tee or tank to help keep this program going strong! 

Clarisse is not only a mother to two little ones, she is also caring for her sick mother. She received a scholarship last year and has grown so much from her time in the One Thread program. She has gained more than just sewing skills, she has also come to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior. We are her biggest fans and love watching her show her children what hard work and community can do in one person's life. She is truly paving a new generational path that now has eternal implications! 

Meet Dorcas. She is 18 and one determined young woman. Not only did she start in the One Thread program to build skills for herself, she also has dreams of opening her own training center to offer to others what has been given to her. We love that her time at Emmanuel Training Center has not only transformed her future, but that she will have an impact on the lives of others with what she has learned. She embraced her sponsorship and worked hard to get where she is today- we are so proud! 

Meet Ruth. She is 17 and looking forward to the future as a small business owner. When she started in the One Thread program, she knew nothing about sewing but needed to help support herself and her family. The more she spent time at school, the more she learned about Jesus. She learned about His life and His love for her. The love that compelled Him to the cross. It was that realization that caused Ruth to give her life to Him. She is excited about what her future holds with this new hope and her new sewing skills! In this video, Ruth is reading from a Bible that was donated by our generous supporters. She's reading from John 17, where Jesus prays for those who will come to know Him. This prayer reminds us that we can know Him and the love he has for each of us. We are so thankful that through her time in the One Thread program, Ruth met Jesus and experienced His love for her. We are so proud of Ruth and believe that big things are ahead for her! 

We are partnering with Micheline and her soon-to-be graduates to create an atelier and boutique. A marketplace where clients and customers can come to order and purchase garments. A place where the women will continue to work under the watchful and motherly eye of Micheline. A place where Ismael, our invaluable social worker, will be able to keep up with them and help us know how to best care for their needs. The move toward independence and sustainability is delicate, we want to make sure these women and their children continue to be nurtured and cared for on their journeys. 

Your purchase of these tees and tanks will help raise the funds needed to set up shop. L'espoir means hope. Your purchase will go directly to helping us bring Phase II of Hope to these young women! 

One Year Ago...

One year ago we introduced you to a woman named Micheline. 

A woman with a dream to change her community. 

To bring light into the darkness. 

To name value and worth.

To teach and to mentor. 

To bring hope. 


Over the past year, a handful of young women have completed their training in the One Thread program. They've witnessed a light in the darkness. They've been told they are valuable and loved. They have learned and grown. They've found hope. 

Now, they are ready to transition onto an atelier, a workshop where they will continue to perfect their skills and create garments to be sold. In this new setting they will also start earning an income to become financially independent through their work. 

We are partnering with Micheline and her soon-to-be graduates to create an atelier and boutique. A marketplace where clients and customers can come to order and purchase garments. A place where the women will continue to work under the watchful and motherly eye of Micheline. A place where Ismael, our invaluable social worker, will be able to keep up with them and help us know how to best care for their needs. The move toward independence and sustainability is delicate, we want to make sure these women and their children continue to be nurtured and cared for on their journeys. 

Your purchase of these tees and tanks will help raise the funds needed to set up shop. L'espoir means hope. Your purchase will go directly to helping us bring Phase II of Hope to these young women! 

Small Beginnings

a guest post by Suzanne Campbell, project manager for One Thread Project

Do not despise these small beginnings,
for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin...
— Zechariah 4:10


I have been reflecting all week about our small beginnings.  It was a year ago.  One year.  One Thread was a dream in our hearts that began to flesh itself out in reality.  And it was a small beginning.  We dreamed at a kitchen table with kids running all around.  We set up a website on a free website program.  We didn't really know how to adjust pixels of pictures properly.  We didn't really know what we were doing at all.  It was a very small and clunky small beginning.  I am not sure we ever dreamed that we would be where we are now, especially in a year's time.  

Our very first campaign was for Mother's Day and we got such a beautiful response.  So many of you ready to join us.  To attach your thread to women across the world.  And as the months passed, more and more joined!  And then, the opportunity we couldn't have written ourselves.  A call from Reeds of Hope, "Join us!"  Humbling.  Over this last year here is what has been done:

  • Grand opening of the One Thread training facility 
  • $150 raised for Bibles written in French and Lingala to have at the Sewing Center
  • Over $500 worth of donated supplies delivered to the training center
  • Fifteen students fully sponsored: Christenvie, Deborah, Christelle, Ruth, Esther, Naomie, Dorcas, Ruth, Clarisse, Arif, Dorcas B, Nadine, Sarah, Ida, and Melida
  • Social worker hired to help support the students and Micheline
  • Training with a professional social worker from Kigali, Rwanda

So yes, do not despise a small beginning.  I have found that the small beginning is really an entrance into the greater work already happening.  God was already at work because the truth is, He is always at work.  His story is so much greater and so much grander, and yet...it is so personal.  There isn't a work that He has done that didn't first involve Him reaching out to an individual saying, "come.  join me.  follow me."  He wants us in the story He is telling.  And because I know how God writes stories, I know that this one has just begun.  He has continued to place dreams on our hearts for more.  What about transportation for the men and women who have to walk miles to get to school?  What about providing lunch?  What about providing childcare for those Mommas with young ones?  What about providing housing for those who may not have a place to rest their heads?  What about a sewing boutique next door for them to sell their work, start employment, earn money, build confidence in order to go and do it themselves?

Maybe you find yourself at a small beginning.  Know now, it isn't small at all.  Your part is necessary for the bigger story.  

Maybe you feel so far away from even having a small beginning.  I have been there.  Maybe your small beginning is simply letting the Lord know that you are ready for one.  Your heart is open and your ear is turned to Him.

Maybe you are hearing Him asking you to join what He is doing here at Reeds of Hope.  We would love to have you!  

I don't know where you fall in all of this, but I can tell you one thing for sure about your small beginning; it will be gritty, it will be grand, it will be redemptive.

ETC Update

In the summer of 2015 Reeds of Hope began a new partnership with Emmanuel Training Center in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC. Emmanuel Training Center (ETC) is the ministry created by Paul and Micheline Manzanza, a wonderful Congolese couple with a heart to serve their community through job training and evangelism. The center currently focuses on three different skill sets- computers, language, and sewing. Reeds of Hope donors have sponsored five older orphaned kids to attend the computer course as well as five young women to join the sewing program.

In January, we joined forces with the One Thread Program, a ministry sponsoring young women and mothers to attend the sewing school. By combining our resources and efforts, we are expanding the services available to students. With the help of new sponsors we were able to  We've hired a young woman named Ismael to step into this support role. She is an excellent communicator, problem solver, and advocate. In the coming months she will be getting to know each of the students and helping us to identify the areas where we can offer support and meet needs. Ismael's presence will also allow Micheline to focus on teaching and mentoring her students. Amy & Suzanne have joined our team working as our state side volunteers to manage the One Thread Program. Their enthusiasm and passion  have been a great encouragement  to all! We look forward to sharing more exciting updates with you in the next quarter. Several of our students will be finishing their training and we are working on plans to help Micheline open her first boutique staffed by the graduates! Next week we are sending over a suitcase full of supplies to help stock the boutique. Additionally, we are sending $150 to buy Bibles in Lingala and French, per the request of the students! 

In January, we sent Paul to Bukavu to meet with the Reeds of Hope Staff. It was his first time visiting the east and he enjoyed a warm welcome from Bernard and his team. Paul and Bernard collaborated during this time, sharing their experiences with supporting orphaned children and vulnerable families. We also brought a social worker from Kigali, Rwanda. Souvenir has been practicing social work with vulnerable children and families for many years. She grew up as an orphan in Eastern DRC and understands the special needs and challenges these children face. She provided two days of in depth training, including hands on practice of gathering information and creating reports. She will continue her communication with our Kinshasa team via Skype with Paul and Ismael over the next four months. We will share more about this work in the coming months, but the goal of these trainings are to learn how to 1) Keep children in families despite the constraints of extreme poverty, 2) Reunify children with their families when that is a safe and viable option, and 3) Move orphaned children into new Congolese families. Paul and Micheline recently adopted a child and are committed to helping other local families do the same. Paul was also able to spend a day meeting with Greg Herring, an American businessman who works with Congolese to design and grow small businesses. He shared that he was, "very impressed with Paul- one of the best business/ministry minds he has seen in Congo!" This time was helpful to Paul as ETC is growing and expanding its services. We are very excited for what the future holds!

In January, ETC moved to a new location. This compound provides security and five classrooms to teach language and computer classes. Additionally, the cyber cafe is being assembled. I had the opportunity to Skype with Paul and the Colk students who will be running the business with Paul. They were eager to practice greeting me in English and expressed their gratitude to those of you who have made these opportunities possible. A fundraiser in February allowed us to purchase a $2,000 generator that will provide power despite the notorious Kinshasa brown outs. This week we are sending over a suitcase of extension cords, headphones, and computer speakers to finish outfitting the cyber cafe and classrooms. 

We promised to pass this message along to each of you from Paul: 

"I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything: the organisation, support, suggestion, training and for allowing me to take part to the training.

My thanks are also directed to everyone who has contributed in one way or another to our work.

My prayer is that God should give us the strength in order to put into practice everything we have learned."

We want to extend our deep gratitude for your financial and prayerful support of this work. 


guest post by Holly Doden

He asked me to get them fixed. I laughed. This wasn't the sort of thing that gets fixed. This was when you raised your white flag, admitted defeat, surrendered the trousers to the garbage, and bought a new pair. But he begged me, they were his favorite pants. The staple in his closet. They had carried him through interviews and presentations, making him look a little more like a doctor and little less like a 20-something hipster. They were the first pair of pants he had ever gotten hemmed, the break was perfect. He had coordinating shirts and ties, even his shoes were paired just right. 

But in a moment, all that changed. In a moment, those pants went from being the best thing going for his wardrobe to something on the brink of extinction. As the oldest and most (ahem) mature of all the groomsman, my husband took it upon himself to ensure the dance floor was put to good use. And if you've ever seen this man dance, you know his enthusiasm is unparalleled.  The beat dropped, he jumped, the seams exploded. This was his jam. In the space between the lyric "Party" and "Rock" the fate of the pants was sealed. Where there had once been back pocket slits, there were now two massive holes. Where seams had once held tight, there was now a painful separation. Where fine Italian wool had once laid smooth, there was now a tangled mess of fiber and string. 

Three years later, those pants still hang in my husband's closet. Big shout out to Mrs. Lee in the Sunset district of San Francisco. She smiled and nodded as I handed the pants over to her, asking for a miracle but completely resigned to fact that they were destroyed. I returned a week later with $20 and a good deal of skepticism. She smiled broadly and presented the pants. Covered in plastic, swinging from a hanger, cleaned and pressed. I began to laugh, "NO WAY!" Mrs. Lee smiled and nodded, pleased with her accomplishment. For a mere $20 we had salvaged the most valuable piece of clothing my husband had ever owned. 

Today I put something away in my husband's closet, laughing aloud at the memory and marveling once again at the magic of the tailor who pieced those trousers back into existence. Simultaneously, I can't help but think of the One Thread Program. Not just bringing garments to life, but bringing people to life. Stitching up and down, back and forth, weaving that thread to create a patch. A patch that bridges the chasm between worthless and valued. Between broken and whole. Between known and isolated. Between empowered and discounted. 

The country faces a major challenge in youth employment. More than 70% of those aged 15 to 24 have no jobs, with urban areas particularly affected. The shortage of jobs helps increase the size of the informal sector and the weakness of supportive structures leads many young people into a life of crime
— African Economic Outlook

At Emmanuel Training Center, students are more than a statistic. They are offered a chance at reclaiming dignity- even if they've already become mothers, even if they are teenagers who never had the opportunity to go to school, even if they've grown up in an orphanage and have no family or support system beyond the walls that have held them since childhood, even if they've already been owned by someone, sent out to make money in the way only a woman can, even if... With Paul and Micheline, they are given a chance to be human again. Ironically, it doesn't cost much more than that $20 I paid the tailor to help move a young person from the class of unskilled to skilled, from unemployed to employable, from vulnerable to independent. 

Being in Kinshasa is a bit like looking at that pair of busted pants. The poverty is overwhelming and the brokenness is blindingly obvious. But when you meet Congolese people like Paul and Micheline, people who, like Mrs. Lee my tailor, have the vision to see beyond? Everything changes. It is no longer a blur of chaos, it is a sea of prospective students, future tailors, future business owners. It is a sea of hope. 

This vision is at the heart of Emmanuel Training Center. From now until Friday at 7pm PST you have the chance to help us push this dream even further into reality. Our goal is to raise $2,000 to purchase a generator for the center so they can keep working through the notorious brown outs. Every dollar over that $2,000 will allow us to offer more scholarships to bring more young people into opportunity. Thank you for your support! 



Generate Some Love


In 2015 we began a partnership with Emmanuel Training Center (ETC) in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC. ETC was created by Paul and Micheline, a wonderful Congolese couple with a heart to serve their community through job training and mentorship. The center currently focuses on three different skill sets- computers, language, and sewing. 

In a region that suffers from crippling rates of unemployment, many young people are unskilled and uneducated. As a result, life can seem bleak. ETC seeks to address this challenge in the community by opening its doors to those looking for opportunity. While some students do pay to attend classes, there are many who want to learn a skill but are unable to pay their own way.  This includes young people who have grown up in a local orphanage and are seeking job skills for a brighter future.  Reeds of Hope provides scholarships and social services for these young people.

Recognizing that it is not sustainable for all students to receive scholarships, ETC is launching its first business endeavor- a cyber cafe. Housed in a busy neighborhood near a local university, it will provide computer and internet access, printing, copying, faxing, and many other services. The cafe will be managed by Paul and staffed by five of the young men and women who have been attending computer classes since last summer. We believe this business will help move these young people towards independence.  It is the equivalent of a work-study program which will help these teens -- each of whom grew up in an orphanage -- become self-sufficient adults. Additionally, the income generated by the cyber cafe will help to cover overhead costs of the training center allowing more students to enter through their doors.

This weekend all the ETC training programs will be moving into a new compound. This will allow Paul to oversee all the different programs as well as the Cyber Cafe in one location! The space is perfect for the vision God has given to Paul and Micheline. There is only one thing missing: a generator.  Kinshasa is notorious for its brown-outs due to unstable power.  A generator will allow ETC to continue classes and business as usual no matter what.

We are hoping to raise $2,000 in the next week for a generator. We've teamed up with some great companies and friends to bring this raffle basket to you. Every item you see was donated which means all $10 from your ticket goes to purchasing the generator! (we're also down for taking straight up donations, you can give to this project here

This basket will help make Valentine's day extra memorable for one lucky winner. We've got a bunch of hand crafted items from Africa, cookbooks and chef's tools to rock dinner at home, the mother lode from our generous friends at Trader Joe's, and some fantastic gift cards and products from companies we are excited to partner with! 

And we're making it easy on you. It's a date box, ready to go! 

total value over $725


All of the following items will be sent to the winner on Saturday, Feb 6th!


  • $40 to Trader Joe's (if you don't have a TJ's local, we can switch it up!) 
  • The Yellow Table Cookbook: A Celebration of Everyday Gatherings 
  • The Congolese Keepsake Cookbook from Creations for Congo
  • Grocery and Meal Planner notepad from 9th Letter Press


  • Chef Apron by Hedley & Bennett made from raw Japanese denim
  • Kitchen Timer & Wooden Spoon, essentials for every home cook
  • Three pack of clean up towels, no judgement here! 
  • Olive Oil Sampler from Trader Joe's
  • Assorted dried fruit and nuts from Trader Joe's 


  • Hand carved Giraffe serve ware from east Africa
  • Sunbean Candles, made from 100% pure beeswax
  • Trades of Hope Trivet, interlocking mango and sheesham form an 8" square
  • Hand woven basket and trivet from east Africa


  • $100 Gift Card to Arbonne, inner and outer beauty products
  • $100 Gift Card to Everlane, luxury basics with radical transparency for him & her
  • Personalized, hand stamped necklace 
  • Book of Vouchers, a gift that keeps giving!
  • Tea Forté Steeping Cup with Infuser
  • Tea Forté Chocolat Tea, 5 indulgent & decadent tea sampler


  • $10 Amazon.com giftcard to rent a movie or purchase and album
  • Chocolate stash from Trader Joe's
  • Tea Forté, loose leaf African Solstice and Winter Chai teas


Raffle tickets cost $10 each and may be purchased via credit card or paypal. If you buy 5 tickets, you'll get one free and receive six entries in the raffle! The raffle will close on Friday, February 5th at 7 pm PST. A winner will be randomly selected and announced immediately following.  Good luck and thank you for your support!


If using Paypal, please tell us the payment is for the raffle in the "Add Notes to the Seller" section at checkout or send an email to hollydoden at gmail dot com.


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Looking Ahead

Reeds of Hope is run by a team of American and ex-pat volunteers. We don't have any overhead costs; even this website is covered by a separate donation. From California to Tanzania, from the East Coast to Rwanda, people across the globe are partnering together with our Congolese friends to support vulnerable children and families. Maybe that's what makes this organization so special- the relationships.  The commitment of working together to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are too often overlooked.

There's this passage in Romans 8- all things work together for good. There have been times when we've wondered what exactly God was doing. Through growing pains and times of feeling so overwhelmed by the weight of this work. But through it all, there has been this thread of hope that God was using our small efforts for his purposes. In the form of unexpected donations and success stories, in the commitment of monthly sponsors who have been with us from the beginning, in the joy we find on the faces of those children we get to sponsor, and perhaps, most especially, in the faith and perseverance of our Congolese partners. We have been so overwhelmed by the generosity of all of you over the past month. We can hardly wait to see how God uses your gifts to spread his love and message of hope to children and families in Congo. 

Below are a few success stories we want to share with you. These are the stories we hope to collect in 2016; more standing in the gap for vulnerable families, more children moving into long term, loving Congolese families, and more empowerment through education and training. 

Part of our work at Reeds of Hope is through our partners on the ground helping children and families in times of crisis. About 8 months ago we were called about a newborn who was sickly and not doing well. Her mother had died giving birth and the remaining family member, an aging grandmother, was having a very difficult time caring for the baby. We were called and asked if Family Bethlehem could take the baby for 6 months, or until she was eating solid food. We talked with our partners on the ground, we arranged how we would support the baby with formula and medications as needed through another partner organization. The baby was moved to Family Bethlehem and she thrived. Seven months later we started asking the questions about reunification. It became clear that reunification wasn’t the best option for this little girl. Mama Sifa, the amazing woman that heads Family Bethlehem, knew this little girl needed a family to thrive. And she found a loving local Congolese family to take her in and the adoption is in process. Not only does baby J have a new family that loves her, but because this has been an open and transparent process, baby J will know her roots and we have the hope that she will stay connect to her more extended family of birth. This is a story of the work we support at Reeds of Hope.
— Holly M.
Little Moses was skin and bones the first day I met him. I was sure he would die. Despite this, he reached his reed-like arms out to me and anyone that passed by in the orphanage he lived in. Surprising everyone, he lived. The increased formula we brought, the mamas fed him with religious diligence—they loved him and wanted him to live. We were told he didn’t have a loving family that wanted him. He became a candidate for international adoption which fell through twice. Then, one day, we were told that he was moved to his grandmothers house. What grandmother? We had been unaware that he had any family that wanted him. We decided to check up on this little boy that we loved. And yes, he had a grandmother and that grandmother loved him! But they were struggling. The same devastating poverty that made it impossible to take care of him after his mother died, was leaving her struggling in her efforts still now to care for this growing 5 year old boy. We decided to step in and walk alongside her. We talked to her about how she has made income in the past. She used to sell clothes and had been able to support herself. But not anymore. So, through some generous supporters that also loved this little boy, we were able to set up in a small business (that is still thriving over a year later) and send him to school. We check in on them and she calls to let us know how they are doing. This is another way Reeds of Hope meets families in times of crisis. Our dream would be to meet the grandmother sooner, get her grandson back home to her sooner. This is the dream you are supporting.
— Holly M.

all donations are tax deductible

Don't forget to check out our last raffle basket full of fantastic products and goodies!

You can also like and share this post from our Facebook page for a chance to

win a $100 Amazon.com gift card! no purchase necessary.

Everything ends on Sunday, 12/13.