Sheep Update!

Our Rwandan team is preparing to receive 100 new Merino sheep arriving from Kenya in the next few weeks!  New collaborations regarding our arriving flock are currently in development and will be announced soon. We are looking forward to creating more job oportunites for more of the "least of these" in Rwanda. Stay tuned...

Merry Christmas From True Vineyard Ministries!

True Vineyard Ministries has had a phenomenal year! Under God’s guidance the organization continues to advance. I want to take this opportunity to update you on our successes in 2014 and also share the exciting developmental plans He has laid before us for 2015.

Currently, we support 44 widows economically through a program called Handspun Hope in Northern Rwanda.  The women earn salaries from crafting organically dyed yarn, produced from the wool of our own flock of Merino sheep.  The yarn is then sold to socially responsible business partners and at our retail store, TheVineyard Marketplace in San Marcos, Texas.

Last year, we began collaborating with Kate Spade & Company, a national design and retail business based in New York. Kate Spade & Company began their own cooperative, employing 150 artisans in Masoro, Rwanda in 2014. These artisans assemble products for the Kate Spade & Company On Purpose brand. The ladies employed by True Vineyard created the yarn used for a selection of their holiday products, which debuted in the Jack Spade  stores on November 14! In 2015, we will continue our partnership to create the only products completely sourced in Rwanda for the On Purpose brand.

   Due to an increased demand for our yarn, we saw a need to increase our flock of Merino sheep. In November, we launched a capital campaign through social media to fund the cost of importing new sheep. This campaign was so effective that we were able to purchase 100 more sheep for our flock in just seven days!  These sheep are currently in Kenya under quarantine and will arrive in Rwanda at the end of this month. With such a tremendous blessing, we are in pursuit of more land, fencing and sheds. Enlarging the flock will also require hiring two additional shepherds, bringing our current staff to 60 full-time employees in Rwanda!

Most importantly, our objective is to provide positive emotional, mental and spiritual support to our ladies who continue to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress due to genocide, extreme poverty, homelessness, HIV and hunger. For the past two years a focused team has worked to develop an intensive counseling program for our ladies. In August, we hired a full-time Rwandese Psychologist, Olive Muhanimana, who has continued to improve our counseling program. Olive has also continued developing the Lay Counselor Training Program, established in 2013, which equips local leaders to administer trauma counseling. Last summer, the second class graduated from the 10-week course and now there are 38 Lay Counselors offering counseling in their respective communities. Homeless children, persons with disabilities and families who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS are just some of the recipients of the free trauma counseling.

In 2015 we will be implementing a microfinance program that will encourage long-term financial freedom for our 44 ladies. For women who apply and qualify, True Vineyard will be granting individual loans. This opportunity will equip the women to create personal savings accounts, develop leadership skills, maximize profits, and invest more fully in the future of their families. The loans will be repaid with a low interest rate, ensuring the funds will continue to grow and be available for future business opportunities. Once a woman achieves financial independence, she will be encouraged to pursue her own entrepreneurial endeavors. True Vineyard will then fill her position with another woman who is marginalized and is seeking to holistically improve her life. This cycle of employment opportunity for impoverished women will ensure long-term impact and involvement in the surrounding community.

Our continued accomplishments in Rwanda would not be attainable without the financial support of dedicated donors. We humbly ask for your financial support in 2015 through a widow sponsorship or a year-end gift. Gifts may be made online or mailed to our office address below. There is no gift too small as we follow God’s lead to ensure these women are equipped spiritually, emotionally and economically through Jesus Christ.

On behalf of the entire team at True Vineyard Ministries, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Blessings,

Diana Wiley

Executive Director

Grateful For God's Leading

True Vineyard Ministries has had a phenomenal year! Under God’s guidance the organization continues to advance. I want to take this opportunity to update you on our successes in 2014 and also share the exciting developmental plans He has laid before us for 2015.

Currently, we support 44 widows economically through a program called Handspun Hope in Northern Rwanda.  The women earn salaries from crafting organically dyed yarn, produced from the wool of our own flock of Merino sheep.  The yarn is then sold to socially responsible business partners and at our retail store, The Vineyard Marketplace in San Marcos, Texas.

Last year, we began collaborating with Kate Spade & Company, a national design and retail business based in New York. Kate Spade & Company began their own cooperative, employing 150 artisans in Masoro, Rwanda in 2014. These artisans assemble products for the Kate Spade & Company On Purpose brand. The ladies employed by True Vineyard created the yarn used for a selection of their holiday products, which debuted in the Jack Spade stores on November 14! In 2015, we will continue our partnership to create the only products completely sourced in Rwanda for the On Purpose brand.

Due to an increased demand for our yarn, we saw a need to increase our flock of Merino sheep. In November, we launched a capital campaign through social media to fund the cost of importing new sheep. This campaign was so effective that we were able to purchase 100 more sheep for our flock in just seven days!  These sheep are currently in Kenya under quarantine and will arrive in Rwanda at the end of this month. With such a tremendous blessing, we are in pursuit of more land, fencing and sheds. Enlarging the flock will also require hiring two additional shepherds, bringing our current staff to 60 full-time employees in Rwanda!

Most importantly, our objective is to provide positive emotional, mental and spiritual support to our ladies who continue to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress due to genocide, extreme poverty, homelessness, HIV and hunger. For the past two years a focused team has worked to develop a solid counseling program for our ladies. In August, we hired a full-time Rwandese Psychologist, Olive Muhanimana, who has continued to improve our counseling program. Olive has also continued developing the Lay Counselor Training Program, established in 2013, which equips local leaders to administer trauma counseling. Last summer, the second class graduated from the 10-week course and now there are 38 Lay Counselors offering counseling in their respective communities. Homeless children, persons with disabilities and families who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS are just some of the recipients of the free trauma counseling.

In 2015 we will be implementing a microfinance program that will encourage long-term financial freedom for our 44 ladies. For specific women who apply and qualify, True Vineyard will be granting individual loans. This opportunity will equip the women to create personal savings accounts, develop leadership skills, maximize profits, and invest more fully in the future of their families. The loans will be repaid with a low interest rate, ensuring the funds will continue to grow and be available for future business opportunities. Once a woman achieves financial independence, she will be encouraged to pursue her own entrepreneurial endeavors. True Vineyard will then fill her position with another woman who is marginalized and is looking to holistically improve her life. This cycle of employment opportunity for impoverished women will ensure long-term impact and involvement in the surrounding community.

Our continued accomplishments in Rwanda would not be attainable without the financial support of dedicated donors. We humbly ask for your financial support in 2015 through a widow sponsorship or a year-end gift. There is no gift too small as we follow God’s lead to ensure these women are equipped spiritually, emotionally and economically through Jesus Christ. 

On behalf of the entire team at True Vineyard Ministries, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Restoring and Growing the Flock

Thank you to all who have prayed for our sick sheep situation in Rwanda. God indeed moved a mountain last week by brining some veterinary volunteers to our farm on Friday.

Following an investigation, we discovered our sheep to have a parasitic infestation, resulting in anemia. Although this is a very common problem among livestock, it can be detrimental if left untreated.  Our routine treatment process has been quarterly but due to a long rainy season in Rwanda, treatments and supplements need to increase. 

We are grateful for your prayers over the protection of our flock.  We are happy to report that no more sheep have died since you started praying for us. Moreover, we continued to see God’s direct hand in restoring and replacing our lost 6 sheep. Sunday, the congregation of a tiny church in Ingleside, Texas raised immediate funds to replace the sheep.  They not only raised enough to replace them, they raised enough to purchase 11.75 sheep!

Driving home from Ingleside, I received an email from our contact in Kenya who imported sheep for us several years ago.  He shared about a truck of goats going to Burundi next week.  Fortunately, we have the ability to add a trailer to the back of the truck, which will hold up to 100 pure Merino sheep! If we move fast, we can purchase each sheep for $170, instead of $280 we would now pay per head!

Our True Vineyard Ministries team has continued to fervently pray for this thrilling opportunity.  Given the situation to purchase more Merino sheep at a reduced cost as well as a very large impending order from a national retailer, we are asking that you prayerfully consider helping us with our campaign to purchase more sheep at the reduced cost of $170.  A donation of any amount will be appreciated towards this effort.

With your permission, we will post names and gifts and keep you well-informed of our sheep count in progress.  Our wish is for this to happen very quickly so we may share this trailer that is already traveling through Rwanda.

Tax-deductible contributions may be designated for sheep and given on the online at www.truevineyard.org.

Thank you so much!


Diana and the True Vineyard team

Left To Tell

Immaculée Ilibagiza huddled with seven other women in the 3' x 4' bathroom of her pastor’s home, silently praying and clinging to her rosary beads as she heard Hutus shouting her name outside the door.

“We know she’s here somewhere,” they yelled,
 stomping through the house, overturning furniture like a tornado. This wasn’t the first time the Hutus had come searching for her — and it wouldn’t be the last.

“Every time they came looking for me, I thought I would be found. I thought I would die,” Ilibagiza said.

She was never found, and she didn’t die. Ilibagiza — a member of the Tutsi tribe — survived for 91 days in the hidden bathroom, while genocide raged outside the pastor’s home and throughout the small, central African nation of Rwanda.

“The only thing that got me through was my faith in God,” she said.

Ilibagiza was a 23-year-old electrical engineering student when the genocide began. It was April 1994, and she was home from the National University of Rwanda for Easter break.

Suddenly, the Rwandan president’s plane was shot down over the capital city of Kigali. The assassination of the Hutu president sparked months of massacres of Tutsi tribe members throughout the country. Not even small, rural communities like Ilibagiza’s were spared from the house-by-house slaughter of men, women and children.

Ilibagiza’s father urged her to run to the local pastor’s home for shelter. There she sat for three months, praying with her rosary beads. The beads were a gift from her father, who was a director of Catholic schools.

Food was scarce at the pastor’s home. In three months, Ilibagiza dropped from 150 pounds to 65 pounds. Though her body atrophied, her mind and spirit remained strong. Using a Bible and a dictionary, she spent countless hours in the cramped bathroom learning English. She was already fluent in Kinyarwanda and French.

After 91 days of terror, Ilibagiza’s prayers were answered. She was liberated from her bathroom prison cell only to face a horrific reality: Her entire family had been brutally murdered, with the exception of one brother who was studying abroad. Nearly 1 million Tutsis were massacred during the 100-day genocide.

“Deep inside of me, I knew my family had died while I was hiding in the bathroom,” Ilibagiza said. “I also knew they were in Heaven, and they had died in the most honorable way trying to protect their family.”

In 1998, Ilibagiza emigrated to the United States to work for the United Nations promoting peace. During that time, she shared her story with coworkers and friends who encouraged her to write it down.

Ilibagiza’s first book, “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust,” was published in March 2006 and quickly became a New York Times bestseller. The book, which has sold over 1 million copies, received a Christopher Award, “affirming the highest values of human spirit.” A movie based on her story is in the works.

Ilibagiza, 43, has received honorary doctoral degrees from several universities and has been honored with numerous humanitarian awards, including the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace.

Altogether, Ilibagiza has written seven books about the Rwandan genocide, faith and forgiveness. She travels the world speaking at conferences, events, schools and churches.


True Vineyard Ministries will welcome Immaculée to St. Edward's University in Austin on September 6 and to the Oblate Center on September 7.  Tickets on sale at www.truevineyard.org.

Genocide Survivor and New-York Best Selling Author Comes to Central Texas!

Immaculée Ilibagiza is New York Times best-selling author of Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.  On September 6 True Vineyard Ministries is honored to bring Immaculée to Central Texas for two very special speaking engagements!


Left to Tell recounts Ilibagiza's experience during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. She survived hidden for 91 days with seven other women in a tiny bathroom. During the horrific atrocities of 1994, Interahamwe soldiers killed most of Illabagiza's family. 


Please watch one of Immaculée's earlier interviews here. Her story of faith and how she found forgiveness has inspired countless individuals.
Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear an incredible message on faith, love and forgiveness from this recipient of the 2007 Mahatma Gandhi Reconciliation and Peace Award. A limited amount of tickets and sponsorship opportunities are now available at truevineyard.org.


An exclusive Patron of Peace Reception will be held prior to Immaculeé's speaking engagements with a personal opportunity to meet Ms. Ilibagiza as she is presented with an Ambassador of Peace award.


We hope to see you in Austin or San Antonio on September 6 and 7!


Blessings,


Diana Wiley
Executive Director

Exciting News!

It is so great to be able to write you today with some very exciting news! I hope you will be as thrilled as I am for the women of True Vineyard Ministries and for the progress that is being made in Rwanda!

For over a year, I have been working closely with the Corporate Social Responsibility division of Kate Spade & Company in New York. Our management team has worked very meticulously to improve the quality of our yarn and bring it to the standard of excellence for which Kate Spade & Company is known.

Several months ago Kate Spade & Company started their own cooperative in Rwanda, employing 150 artisans in Masoro, Rwanda. At the beginning of May, their organization launched their On Purpose brand, promoting products made by the artisans of Masoro. The goal of this new initiative is to develop a viable resource for their organization while promoting artisans in Rwanda. Women employed through this program will be knitting hats and scarves out of our high-quality Merino yarn beginning later this month. The first of these products will hit the shelves of Jack Spade, their men's line and brand store, for Holiday 2014!

This is especially exciting for both organizations, as this partnership will allow Kate Spade & Company to produce their first products completely sourced in Rwanda! They have done similar projects in Bosnia and Afghanistan, but all raw materials were imported from China, as are all the other materials for products currently being assembled in Rwanda for On Purpose. It is a huge step for Kate Spade & Company and a very exciting time for us. We are confident that this will be an ongoing and growing relationship as we begin to create yarn for their other brands. Additionally, this project is already driving other organizations to seek True Vineyard as a raw materials source in Rwanda! We have seen and felt the hand of God's guidance all the way through this process.

It is very exciting to announce that this order created a need for us to employ 7 more widows - a new total of 44 women and their children being served by True Vineyard Ministries. As you can imagine, employing a total of 44 women in the space where we originally employed 10 is challenging. We cannot wait to move into our new workspace, Gihunga Center, in Susa Village!

In a few weeks, a team of 19 people (our largest team ever) will be traveling to Rwanda where, God willing, we will see the completion of construction for Gihunga Center. We are looking forward to a day in the near future when we can finally move operations to our very own property. The team will be working with local workers on the construction of a large gazebo and beatification of the grounds at the new center. The women love to work outside, and we want their new center to be a beautiful and aesthetically peaceful place to come to work. I know the team would covet your prayers as they are preparing for their journey.

I am also seeking prayers over a growing issue we are seeing with some of our women.

When we first began our work in Rwanda, we built 10 houses for 10 widows. As God opened up the opportunity to hire more women, we made the decision that it was more important to employ as many as we could rather than employ a few and build them houses. While we have no regrets about this decision, we are seeing a developing issue-unsafe living conditions for many of our ladies.

Our focus has always been about empowering the women we employ to take care of themselves and their families. However, due to some challenges and government building restrictions for new homes in Rwanda, this has become an extremely difficult task. Would you pray with us as we seek wisdom over this issue?

Lastly, I would like to tell you about a very exciting guest we have visiting us this fall. Immaculée Ilibagiza, New York Times best-selling author of Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Genocide will be in Austin and San Antonio, respectively on September 6 and 7 for two very special speaking engagements for True Vineyard Ministries. Immaculée hid and survived for 91 days inside a tiny bathroom with 7 other women during the horrific 1994 Rwandan Genocide. I encourage you to read her book and join us in September. Tickets will go on saleJuly 1 through our website at truevineyard.org.
 
Thank you very much for your continued prayers. We are grateful.

Diana Wiley
Executive Director