Browsing Category: Field Story

Treating others as a Guest of Honor

Convoy of Hope began hosting Community Events 25 years ago. Since then, we’ve helped thousands of Guests of Honor — from New York to Hawaii, Washington to Florida, and everywhere in between — in more than 1,200 cities in the United States. 

Guests of Honor are our neighbors, co-workers, the people we see at church each Sunday, the grocery check-out clerk, or the person asking for help on the corner. They are the families who need a hand-up during difficult times, individuals living on the fringes of poverty, and those who are barely making it paycheck to paycheck. They are people we all know and love and want to help. 

They are people like Carly. It had already been a long day for Carly before she attended the Wichita Convoy of Hope Community Event with her family. She’d worked eight hours at one job; after the event, she would be going to her second job. 

Carly and her family have attended the Community Event for four years in a row. She and her kids go to every area: haircuts, shoes, Kids Zone to receiving backpacks, and groceries at the end. The haircuts are particularly of value. The only time Carly’s daughters receive haircuts are when they attend Community Events.

When asked why she keeps returning, she says, “Convoy is one of the most understanding and respectful organizations. They treat you like a person. Like you’re just another person that deserves something. They don’t look down on you. They don’t treat you different. They don’t talk to you like you’re a 5-year old kid. You don’t get that. People in our situations don’t get that.” 

Her entire family feels connected to the event. In fact, her oldest daughter decided to be a volunteer this year. “We’re hoping by next year, we won’t need the services, and then we can all come back and volunteer,” Carly says. “They’ve helped us, so we try to give back if we can.”  

Carly and her family are striving to be like the Camposes — Guests of Honor who went to their first event several years ago when they were having a tough time. The flyer they received highlighted free services that they needed.

“When I came to the Convoy of Hope event, and every five or six meters is one person, smiling and saying, ‘Welcome. You’ve been welcome. God bless you.’ Wow. This is what I needed,” said Roberto Campos. “I believe the people received me and this changed my life.” 

Since then, the entire Campos family has volunteered at their local Community Event for five consecutive years. Coming full circle from receiving to giving back — showing other Guests of Honor in their community the same level of dignity and respect they were shown. 

Since 1994, Convoy of Hope Community Events have served more than 2 million Guests of Honor around the United States — people like Carly and the Camposes — who simply need hope in a time of need. To learn more about Community Events, visit convoyofhope.org/events

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Community Outreach / Field Story / Inspiration / Join the Convoy / Volunteering

Field Teams: Hope for a Sustainable Future

Convoy of Hope Field Teams come alongside communities and engage in work that helps them flourish. Teams from all over the U.S. work with the staff in several countries around the world to tackle projects that support Convoy’s various programs. These opportunities give volunteers the chance to offer hope and help in ways that not only affect the lives of one child or family, but the long-term trajectory of an entire community.

Since we began our Field Teams program in 2013, we’ve engaged more than 4,600 volunteers. These teams help in places like the Ngaramtoni Primary School in Tanzania, where teams serve kids who are in our Children’s Feeding program. 

According to Jackie Brawner, a Field Team volunteer leader who worked in this area of Tanzania, teams began working with the school by offering kids lunch every day and helping clear brush so they could build greenhouses. Jackie’s church, Bonita Valley Community Church, even funded two greenhouses for the school to grow their own food for lunch. The school can now sell any extra food they grow at the market to purchase other foods as well, which diversifies their students’ diets. 

With the help of Field Teams, we hope that one day this community will be thriving without need of our help. 

“I love that Convoy of Hope is focused on sustainability,” Jackie says. “We are able, as a team, to go into the places where Convoy of Hope is working and continue the work. And when we leave, because of the established programs they have there, the projects will be continued.” 

Since Convoy entered Ngaramtoni, we’ve held community meetings, helped identify income generating opportunities, addressed hygiene and sanitation issues, empowered mothers to do business, and taught students gardening techniques. The school is now poised to harvest and sell more than 10 metric tons of tomatoes per year, which will fund the lunch program in the future.

“Working with Convoy of Hope Field Teams is the greatest blessing of my life,” says Jackie. “To be boots on the ground and to see the work and effort that Convoy of Hope is doing to feed people and change lives is a priceless experience. On a Field Team, there will be guaranteed laughter and tears. You cannot come back the same. They are truly trips of a lifetime.” 

Already in 2019, 46 Field Teams have served in 10 different locations, from Moldova to the Mississippi Delta. These incredible volunteers have helped with numerous projects around the world in support of our mission — providing help and hope to people who need it most. 

Visit convoyofhope.org/fieldteams to learn more about Field Teams.

 

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Agriculture / Children's Feeding / Field Story / Join the Convoy / Volunteering
Fleeing for their lives, refugees are making their way to Europe where Convoy of Hope is helping provide resources, connection, and hope. Fleeing for their lives, refugees are making their way to Europe where Convoy of Hope is helping provide resources, connection, and hope.

Refugee in Bulgaria finds hope through Convoy

The Convoy of Hope team met Mustafa in the Harmanli refugee camp in Bulgaria in 2016. Mustafa fled his homeland in the Middle East because he was from a minority tribe who suffered from intense persecution. Mustafa was studying to become a doctor when he began to witness acts of genocide against those like him. With no other option, he chose to undertake the arduous route to Europe.

Mustafa had heard there were people who could help him on his journey and decided to contact them. These people assured him that he would reach Germany and be reunited with his wife in four days. After paying a large fee, Mustafa waited for their direction.

His first step was to ride in the trunk of a small vehicle along with nine other adults, hidden and crammed against each other. In the heat of the summer, and without being able to eat or drink for four days, Mustafa drew his strength from the thought of seeing his wife again.

Once the car reached the border, Mustafa was kidnapped by his own traffickers. They demanded an extra sum of money from his family back home before he could proceed in his journey. He was forced to spend seven days with 40 other men in a small room with no windows or light and one toilet. They weren’t given food or water during their ordeal and were forced to drink from the toilet to stay hydrated. Finally, his family paid the additional money, and Mustafa was set free.

Despite these incredible hardships, Mustafa was set on reaching Germany. He decided to continue his route through what he refers to as “the jungle,” which are actually the forests of Eastern Europe. Weak, starving, and cold, Mustafa was eventually caught and turned in to the police. After being beaten and held for two days, Mustafa was released.

Mustafa arrived at the refugee camp in Harmali, Bulgaria, and found the Oasis Center, where Convoy of Hope and its partners distribute food to refugees. For the first time in his personal nightmare, someone reached out in kindness. Mustafa now works alongside Convoy and our partners to distribute food and clothing to the rest of the refugees in the camp. He shared with us that he feels his hope has been restored.

***This story was originally reported in 2016. Three years later, with the support of Convoy’s partners in Bulgaria, Mustafa made it to Germany and was reunited with his wife. He has received asylum there. Some details, including his name, have been changed or generalized to protect Mustafa’s privacy.

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Advocacy / Field Story / Inspiration / News

World Refugee Day: Faaiza’s Story

Faaiza is eight years old. Her father holds her close, explains the plan one last time and then tearfully leaves her behind. She watches her parents and siblings make their way through the chaos of the Syrian border into Lebanon. Trucks rumble past and the crowd presses around her, blocking her view. And suddenly, Faaiza’s family is gone — and she is alone.

“My papers were not in order, so they let everyone in my family through except for me,” Faaiza recalls. “I was stuck on the other side of the Syrian border.” This is the life of a refugee. Faaiza’s neighborhood near Aleppo exploded into violence four days before. Having no time to prepare, they fled with all their hands could carry. Their only comfort was the fact they were alive and together — at least until they reached the border.

Stepping out of the view of the guards, Faaiza reaches down and pulls up a handful of dirt from her homeland — Syria. She rubs it on her face and hands, smearing it with the sweat from her long journey. Faaiza tears her clothes and completes the disguise. In just a few moments, she has reduced herself from the daughter of a middle class Syrian plumber to a beggar. With her hands outstretched and her eyes on the barbed wire fence — the only thing separating her from her family — she slips past the guards, crossing into Lebanon by herself. “God helped me find my family,” she says. “He didn’t leave me by myself.”

Convoy of Hope’s team met Faaiza a few years ago as we handed her a small space heater to protect her family from freezing temperatures. Her warm smile cut through the cold wind blowing about the dilapidated Beirut neighborhood where her family lives. For the last few years, Faaiza and her family have been scraping together the pieces of their lives. But, they now have hope for a brighter future. As our team says goodbye to Faaiza, the girl who navigated the border by herself, she turns to her mother and holds out the small space heater. She wants to offer it to another family in their neighborhood whose house isn’t as warm as theirs. Despite all she’s been through, Faaiza’s kindness has never waned.

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Advocacy / Field Story / News