During our last blog post, we updated you all on new events unfolding in Rwanda as it related to COVID-19. There have been some positive developments in the life of our organization in Rwanda since then, and we wanted to take a moment to share with you.
COVID UPDATE: CENTER REOPENED
At the time we last posted, Rwanda had just entered another restrictive lockdown in order to help mitigate a recent surge of COVID-19 cases. (Check out our last blog here for a refresher). This lockdown meant that we had to close our center, which was a hard reality for our organization, especially in terms of keeping up with recent high order demand and the upcoming holiday season.
We are incredibly grateful to everyone who came alongside us during this time through orders, donations, prayer support and more to ensure we could keep our organization running.
We are also especially thankful to our wonderful customers who have been patient and gracious to us as we have endured production delays and other challenges due to the lockdown.
Fortunately, the lockdown lifted at the end of July, and our center reopened after a six-week closure. Our ladies have returned and are now working hard to make up the lost time and meet our current order demands. To ensure everyone is kept safe and healthy, we are still currently operating at a limited capacity in accordance with local regulations, as well as conducting random testing. Additionally, vaccines are finally becoming more widely available in Rwanda and we are thankful that a majority of our ladies have already chosen to get theirs.
Amidst what has been a tough market for many, we are thankful to report that we have some of our largest orders ever right now, particularly for sweaters.
This means that our ladies have a lot of work—though it doesn’t come without its challenges, as we now need to scale rapidly to meet demand. Our teams are strategizing the best production methods to complete all of these orders on time and with the highest quality.
One of the ways we are exploring doing this is by hiring additional staff to keep our processes running smoothly. For example, as of September, we have already doubled our knitting staff through the end of the year! We are grateful to be able to extend these new jobs to temporary employees and invite them into our Handspun Hope family.
While we have been blessed with these orders and the ability to provide more jobs, we are still reliant on the combination of both order donations to do all that we do.
As a result, the added expense of increased operations and staff is something we are now praying through how to address. Please join us in our prayer for our wisdom and discernment as we navigate this blessing of large orders coming in on the heels of a production delay. We are asking God to help us leverage this season for His Glory and impact in Rwanda!
CAMPAIGN UPDATE: THE WILL BARNHILL CENTER OF HOPE
Earlier this year we completed fundraising for The Will Barnhill Center of Hope, our new counseling center designed to help us continue providing life-changing trauma counseling and mental health support for both the women of Handspun Hope and our surrounding community. (Read more on our blog.) Since then, construction has been underway. We experienced a few delays in this process due to the COVID restrictions, but we are now completing the finishing touches.
As a result, we are thrilled to announce that we are planning on conducting a soft grand opening of the center in early November!
We were originally hoping to host a large grand opening ceremony where we could invite members of our community and local leaders to participate, as this is a hugely joyous occasion for our organization and those we serve. However, the ongoing pandemic and resulting restrictions have made this difficult. Instead, we’ll first conduct an initial ribbon cutting ceremony so that our ladies can begin using the space for individual and group counseling sessions. We’ll then plan a larger celebration down the road once it is safe to do so.
As you may remember, part of the fundraising efforts for the Will Barnhill Center of Hope included hiring three new counselors, including another licensed psychologist. Our lead counselor, Olive, is currently spearheading recruitment efforts to fill these roles. Please join us in prayer for the right candidates to come our way and help love our ladies well.
We are amazed at how this project is continuing to come to life and believe that God will use it to have tremendous healing and restorative impact throughout Rwanda. In addition to providing counseling for our ladies, we also have plans to use the center to reintroduce our lay counselor training program.
It will also help facilitate the development of a new addiction counseling program to serve the immediate needs of our surrounding community.
We’ll continue to keep you updated and share more photos as this unfolds—stay tuned!