Hi, I’m Tara. Nice to meet you!
In December 2010, after a two-week mission trip, I followed my little broken heart back to Rwanda, begging God to use me in any way He saw fit. I didn’t have a plan, but I trusted that He did.
In June 2011, I moved into the Noel Orphanage, home to 500+ children ranging in age from a few weeks to their late 20’s. While I got my feet on the ground, I loved on babies, played countless games of soccer, and taught English. By December of that year, I had a list and a plan. So many things I saw going on around me bothered me, but I decided to zero in on two, the oldest girls and the local school lunch program (or lack thereof).
At the time, there were, roughly, 100 young adults over the age of 18 living in the Noel Orphanage. With no family and limited resources, the prospect of university or becoming gainfully employed was low. Along with that, confidence was low, dreams were small, and hope was almost non-existent. It was important, not only to provide a means of sustainable employment doing a culturally relevant trade for these girls, but also to remind them that they were created for a great purpose, by an even greater God. We all have been given gifts and talents and, once realized, we should spend those helping others. That is where the feeding program came in.
In our village there are three secondary schools, grades 7-12, and these students go to school all day, most without eating. The schools, generally, offer a 20-minute break for lunch where children who live close enough or have money, may go home to go to the market to eat. Most do not.
No.41 started on a whim and a prayer in March 2012, with 16 girls from Noel. The girls would be earing a fair wage sewing bags and selling them, mostly in the US, with 100% of the profits going to feed students at local schools. The idea was: FOR ONE child. FOR ONE meal. FOR ONE year. For just $75, a young woman earns a sustainable income and a child receives a hot, healthy lunch everyday at school. By the end of April, No.41 employed 32 girls, with a fairly substantial waiting list, and by February 2013, the No.41 girls were feeding 870 students and 36 teachers, from their own community, every day.
All that has transpired at No.41 is beyond my wildest dreams. We have had ten girls move themselves out of the orphanage and we now have 19 enrolled in university. We have career fairs and business trainings, Bible study and English class. I never believed this couldn’t happen, but I never imagined it would happen like this. No.41 is a testament to all that God wants to do in you and through you, if you’ll just say, yes.