Browsing Category: Field Story

Home is where the hope is

Keys for first completely rebuilt home in Puerto Rico presented to homeowner.

Joany has lived through many hurricanes, but Maria was one of the worst — destroying many homes in the Puerto Rican village of Villa Esperanza, including Joany’s. From a friend’s home in another village, Joany could see everything being blown away at home.

“It was a really crazy experience, because coming back and not having anything and seeing everything destroyed, you feel like you have nothing else to hold onto,” Joany says.

Convoy of Hope arrived in Puerto Rico just days after Hurricane Maria struck the island and began distributing relief supplies to families in need. As the response transitioned from meeting immediate needs to longterm relief, Convoy began helping repair and rebuild homes destroyed by the storm.

Groups from all over the U.S. came to Puerto Rico in partnership with Convoy as Field Teams. The teams helped in the rebuilding houses around Villa Esperanza — from laying the foundation to the final coat of paint.

Joany’s house was the first of many to be completed in that area. As the Convoy team handed Joany the keys to her new home she was overcome with happiness.

“I started to cry,” says Joany of the moment she received the keys to her new home. “But I was crying happy tears, because I have a house.”

The continued support of people like you makes these moments of hope possible. For Joany and many others in Puerto Rico, home is where the hope is.

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Disaster Services / Field Story

Recovering from Harvey: The Mouton’s story

On August 25, 2017 Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast. Within hours of storm making landfall, Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team was on the ground distributing emergency supplies like food, water and hygiene items to survivors.

In an unprecedented manner, the storm lingered over Texas dropping trillions of gallons of water. According to officials with the state of Texas, around 800,000 homes were affected.

In the months following the hurricane, Convoy of Hope led volunteer teams in debris removal operations for homes that had been flooded. Currently, Convoy of Hope has transitioned into delivering building supplies to churches and long-term recovery groups. These organizations then distribute the supplies to affected families.

Jessie Mouton

One family affected by the storm was Jessie Mouton’s. Jessie, her husband and their two young sons — ages five and 18 months — live in Winnie, Texas. They had been in their new home less than a year before Hurricane Harvey hit.

“New baby, new house, flood — that was the timeline” Mouton says.

The family left their home on August 26, as they evacuated from the storm. Little did they know, they would not be able move back in until December 8.

The Mouton’s home flooded with more than 12 inches of water, forcing them to remove all of the drywall in their home. They estimate they lost about 75% of their belongings —including furniture, appliances and pictures.

While their home was being restored, the Mouton’s alternated between staying with family members, in a hotel and in a camper.

Mouton describes this process as being very confusing for her five-year-old son. She remembers him being very sad the first time he saw their home, saying it was “broken”. She agreed it was broken, but promised him they would put it back together.

With the help of their local church, the Mouton’s were able to receive the drywall they needed from Convoy of Hope. Mouton describes receiving the drywall as very “unexpected and overwhelming”.

As things are starting to get back to normal for the Mouton family, they recognize there is still work to do, saying they’re “all in until it’s all done”.

Learn more about Convoy of Hope’s response to Hurricane Harvey here!

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Disaster Services / Field Story

Matilda: Changing her story through Women’s Empowerment

Matilda and her son, Junior, live in the beautiful country of Tanzania. Each morning, Matilda opens up her shop, confidently expecting another successful day of business. But, not too long ago, life looked very different for Matilda and Junior.

Despite working long hours making and selling donuts, oftentimes Matilda would not earn enough income to provide for Junior or herself … forcing both of them to go to bed hungry. Junior watched his mom struggle, and with wisdom beyond his years, he would encourage her that the next day would be better.

After Junior enrolled in a school benefiting from Convoy of Hope’s feeding program, Matilda enrolled in the Women’s Empowerment program. From then on, everything changed!

Now, Matilda sells many different items in her shop! She makes enough money for today and has also learned how to budget to save for the future.

Because of friends like you, women like Matilda — and their children — are receiving opportunities through Convoy of Hope that enable them to live better lives.

Thank you for helping change her story.

Click here to help us empower more women like Matilda.

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Field Story / Women's Empowerment

Hope comes to Watts

Just days before Convoy of Hope Los Angeles, very few believed it was actually going to happen. Residents of the Watts community have often been over promised and under delivered and skepticism ran rampant. Though in the face of adversity, hope came to Watts on December 2, 2017.

Hope arrives 

When the reality that this event was — in fact — going to happen hit, hope and excitement filled the community.

“I was driving down the street, on my way to Convoy and these big, monster Convoy of Hope trucks drove right by me,” said Julian Toriz, LA native and Kids Zone Leader for the event. “I’m like ‘oh my goodness!’ Rolling deep, 3 big trucks — boom, boom, boom. I got out my camera. I’m trying to drive and I’m like ‘I got to document this’.”

More than 8,400 Guests of Honor attended the event that day. They received free groceries, shoes, haircuts, and health services. The local team that worked with Convoy of Hope to make the event a reality was amazed at the impact on the community.

Overcoming challenges

The Watts neighborhood of South Central LA is an area of high poverty and crime. The 2010 census revealed that 35.9% of South Central LA live below the poverty line — more than double the U.S. rate of 14.1%. Watts is home to 13 known gangs and four of the largest housing projects in all of LA – all in a two square mile area.

A large step for the Convoy of Hope team in making this event a reality was meeting with and getting the approval of the Watts Gang Task Force to establish a Day of Peace. According to Convoy of Hope Signature Events Director Steve Pulis, not only did this create an opportunity for the community to attend the event without fear of violence, but it established the event as a positive opportunity to help the community.

“When that group came on board and got behind it, we had more than their permission,” Pulis said. “We got the word out among not only gangs, but the entire community – this event is positive, it’s here to help and the gangs are good with it. It has everyone’s support.”

The event took place in Ted Watkins Memorial Park. This is a special place to Convoy of Hope as it was the site of the first Community Event in 1995, only a few years before the park was closed due to violence at a few large park events. The park was closed to large events for 20 years, until the Convoy of Hope event in 2017.

A day of miracles

Convoy of Hope’s Community Events are only possible through the support of volunteers from within the community and its surrounding areas. For most Community Events, the Convoy of Hope team aims to get between 1,200 and 2,000 volunteers. However, by the day of the Watts event there were only 400 volunteers registered and only 303 actually came.

Even with the low volunteer attendance, the event ran smoothly and every Guest of Honor was able to be served.

“It’s a miracle that we didn’t have any issues,” Pulis said. “People can complain anywhere. You can get in too long of a line at the check out of any store and you’re gonna have someone upset. Nothing here.”

Local team member and long-time Watts resident Cornell Ward referenced the biblical story of The Feeding of the 5,000 — in which Jesus feeds 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish — and said “I know what it feels like.”

Hope continues

Convoy of Hope is grateful for the opportunity to bring some hope to South Central LA, but the work is not done yet. Convoy of Hope has already planned to return to LA for another Community Event on December 1, 2018.

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Community Outreach / Field Story / Volunteering