I recently had the privilege of joining over 2,000 HOPE Congo clients at our first client assembly in Brazzaville. The gathering was hosted in the shade of the partially reconstructed roof of a local church partner whose building was severely damaged during Brazzaville’s munitions depot blasts last March. HOPE Congo’s management team organized the day’s events to follow a typical HOPE group meeting structure, using the simple 5W’s format, with each “W” representing a specific section for welcome, worship, Word, work, and finally wrap-up.
In typical group meetings, our “work” section consists of biblically based business training and loan repayment, but during the assembly this time was solely dedicated to interaction with our clients, and it proved to be my favorite “W” of the day. Three clients volunteered to share testimonies about how loans from HOPE had helped them make positive changes: sending children to school, growing in their spiritual walks, and even building a new home. Each testimony was followed by loud cheers and applause from all 2,000 clients in attendance and was a witness directly from our clients that HOPE is making a difference in people’s lives here in Brazzaville, both physically and spiritually.
Another key portion of the “work" for the assembly was to honor and recognize a few very special clients who were in attendance. In total nine awards were given to groups and individuals, including three of HOPE Congo’s very first groups, who received loans in May 2010. Additionally individual awards were disbursed to the three clients who had saved the most money with HOPE. Perhaps my favorite memory of the day was the reaction of our top saver upon hearing his name announced: He literally danced his way to the front of the sanctuary, garnering a huge round of applause and shouts from all in attendance. To me this demonstrates in a small way the dignity and pride that we see manifested in the lives of so many of our clients. Our relationship with them is much more than a financial transaction, and it’s a joy to celebrate their successes and achievements.
Events like our client assembly in Brazzaville reinvigorate my spirit and remind me why I do what I do here at HOPE. My thanks go out to the HOPE Congo team for giving me the privilege of attending this joy-filled celebration!