Hope: Mama Atiya

When the desperation of poverty grows stronger than the ties between a family, a tragedy has occurred. For Mama Atiya, and many Congolese women like her, two tragedies went hand in hand. Mama Atiya’s husband died just over two years ago, and while she was still mourning the loss, his family came to visit. Instead of bringing comfort, they brought more devastating news. Because of Congolese property laws, without a husband Mama Atiya could be stripped of her land, house, or estate – and her husband’s family had come to claim it all. Though Mama Atiya had worked alongside her husband to support their family, she suddenly had nothing.

Destitute and homeless, Mama Atiya took her six children and returned to her parents’ home. Her parents graciously took them in, but the living quarters were cramped and Mama Atiya knew that the arrangement would have to be short-term. She dreamed of saving enough money to buy a house for herself and her children but feared that her meager wage as a smoked fish saleswoman would never allow it. When she met a HOPE loan officer, she realized that this was just the opportunity she had been praying for.

An initial $55 loan helped Mama Atiya break into the smoked fish business for herself. She buys fish in bulk, enabling her to offer good prices and function as a wholesaler. Just two years and seven loans later, life is no longer a daily struggle. By the grace of God and her own hard work, Mama Atiya is the proud owner of an apartment. She can afford to send all of her school-aged children to classes and has even adopted four children from her community. They are also attending school. Mama Atiya hopes to use her accumulated savings to make repairs to the family’s new apartment and eventually to buy a second apartment for her older children.

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8 Comments

  1. Posted February 9, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    that’s beautiful. SHE’s beautiful! Microloans are such an awesome idea.

  2. Posted February 10, 2010 at 3:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    That’s a wonderful story, thanks so much for sharing! Hope sounds brilliant.

    Rosie of BooksAndBakes

  3. roadknowledge
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great story liz. It seems like micro loans are growing very popular. I am involved with KIVA, who also work with micro lenders to help small businesses in countries with poor economies. Hope Int’l is a great organization.
    Mike
    http://roadknowledge.wordpress.com

    • Elizabeth
      Posted February 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I learned about microfinance from Kiva! Great organization! I just wanted to support one that also is seeking God’s heart in what they are doing. That’s how I found HOPE!

  4. Erin
    Posted February 14, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Elizabeth!
    I LOVE that you’re doing this. I’m usually a lurker (stalker) of your site (:-)), but I thought I would come out of the shadows to share something you might be interested in…
    http://eatriceandbeans.com/.
    Basically, this movement is encouraging people to eat rice and beans for the month of March to mirror the meals of those with limited incomes in East Africa. The money you save on groceries for the month can then be donated to East Africa.
    I think it will be fun and challenging to see how you can keep just rice and beans interesting.
    Anyway…thanks for your thoughts on this site. You keep me thinking.

    • Elizabeth
      Posted February 14, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Wow, that is an incredible idea! Thank you for sharing! I’m not sure that I could get Jason on board, since he hates beans . . . but maybe I could sub out a meal a week or something. . . I’m going to look into the website and find out more.

      Blood:Water Mission does something similar, where you give up all beverages in your diet for a period of time, opting for water instead, donating the money you would have spent on coffee/beer/wine/soda to Blood:Water for them to use to build wells.

      • Erin
        Posted February 15, 2010 at 12:19 am | Permalink | Reply

        Since I’m a nursing mama, like yourself, I’m gonna try for one meal a day of rice/beans. My hubby is very picky about beans as well, so I’ll have to be creative with disguising the flavor. Thanks for the Blood:Water reference! I’ll look more into that!

        • Elizabeth
          Posted February 15, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

          They have some good recipes on the Rice and Beans blog – super creative ideas. I forget about a lot of the different kinds of beans that are out there. I may try to do the same thing – give up one meal a day to do rice and beans. Maybe I could find a few recipes that Jason will like! 🙂

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