In many ways, it was a slower year, not an easy year, but slower. Quieter. We haven't pushed as hard as we have in previous years, but that doesn't mean we didn't see growth; it's not the kind you can count with your fingers, but the growth that can only happen when you slow down enough to just listen. It's been a year of refining and creating greater sustainability.
As you may know, in our first year of feeding students, the food was provided completely free of charge. It was huge blessing to the students and their families and I will never forget the day we gave them the news. We had just finished up the very first lunch ever served at their school and the students were high on life. Singing and dancing. They were so thankful and all saying as much. When we were saying our goodbyes, we told them we would see them tomorrow and they couldn't believe it. One student sheepishly walked over to me and whispered, "I don't have the money to pay." I told her it was free and asked JD to clarify that for everyone. The place exploded.
By the time we wrapped up that year, we had learned countless lessons. At the top of that list was that, in order to affirm their dignity and truly offer empowerment, the students and their parents need to have ownership and responsibility in this, as well. The needs in our community were (and still are) great, but we never intended to create a program based on a handout. We sat down with the school leaders and Parents Committee and came up with a plan to build a 50/50 partnership between No.41 and the parents. School feeding programs were something the government was starting to push for, country wide, but most families were struggling to put food on their own tables and the thought of being forced to pay for another meal seemed out of the question. We created a sliding scale, based on the poverty level for each family, that started with parents contributing an average of $2 a year, per student, that would gradually increase to $30 a year, over the next 5 years.
I'm happy to report that, at the start of this year, the parents are proudly contributing 30% of the funds necessary to feed their students! They are so thankful we are able to work with them slowly and we are so honored to do it. We are are also incredibly encouraged by this model and confident we could take the 50/50 approach directly to any new schools we plan to partner with in the future.
On 41Day, we ask for you to donate your lunch money to feed our students. And so many of you do that. Some donate exactly the cost of your lunch that day ($7.14), some donate to feed a student for the entire year ($60), some chose to donate the cost of your lunch on a monthly basis ($5-$10). It's a small price to pay, but I hope you never doubt the heart behind what we're building and our desire to see lasting change. There are many of us who may not even notice $5 or $10 drafted out our bank accounts each month, but I can tell you, for these students, for their parents, and their entire families, the impact is beyond measure.
So here's what you need to know about THIS Saturday:
- We would love for you to join us to fast, pray, and donate what you would have spent on lunch.
- We're going to be launching our brand new, beautiful website full of photos and stories from our little slice of the world. We'll have new, streamlined giving options and shop-wide discounts on all the ladies' products.
- In the meantime, find us on Instagram.
See you Saturday!! xo
P.S. Hit that little share button down there and tell your friends about how you're changing our world in Rwanda!