Each Artisan has a story, and every story is truly beautiful.
Samuel is 20 and is one of the newest COPO members. As an artisan, Sam has been working to create something new: the Neza bracelet! Sam says “I chose the name ‘Neza’ because in Kinyarwanda, it means ‘done well’ or ‘nicely,’ and when we make these bracelets, everyone does their very best!” Sam says he has always enjoyed creating. “When I was younger, I loved using my hands to make toys out of paper boxes. When I went to high school, a friend taught me how to make these bracelets.” He says that it was a great feeling to know he could to create something of value. “On a mission trip to Rwanda, the owner of COPO noticed the bracelets I was making and asked me if I would be interested in joining COPO to make them,” Sam says. “I love and enjoy my work at COPO, and I believe God has a lot planned for us here!”
Joselyne is 28 years old and is married with one daughter. As a young mother, the money she earns from COPO helps her to provide for her family. Her role at COPO is to create elephants and giraffes. She says she loves working with COPO not only for the fellowship and worship, but because it is a way for her to give back. “Our leaders challenge us to take the money we earn and find ways to bless others in our community,”Joselyne says. She loves the products that she makes because “everything is made with love and we use our gifts and talents to glorify God!”
Solange is 32 years old and is from the village of Kirenge. She is married to Daniel and together they have 3 children. Her favorite color is green and her favorite bible verse is John 3:16. Prior to COPO, Solange was a farmer. She lived in a tiny house that had no separation between her family and the animals they owned. Since starting with COPO, she has been able to build a new house to live in as well as another space for the animals they own. Solange has also been able to start her own small business that sells food as well as help the needy in her community.
Leonill is 24 years old. She is married to Alisa and together they have 2 sons. She loves all things red and yellow & her favorite snack is plantains. Prior to COPO, Leonill was a teacher at a local primary school. Since joining COPO, she has been able to purchase medical insurance for her family, purchase new clothes for her family, and provide her children with books for school. She has also been able to purchase 3 goats and 8 rabbits for her family, that will be able to reproduce and be sold for additional income. Leonill found Jesus when she was a young girl. She saw the ways of her parents and knew there was something more. She started meeting in small groups with friends and came to know the Lord and was able to be a light for her own family.
Sonya is 27 years old and is from the village of Mutara. When she was 3 years old, her father was killed in the genocide. She had to stop going to school at an early age to help her mom take care of her younger brothers and sisters. Several years ago she met her husband, Prosper, and together they now have 2 children. Prior to COPO, Sonya earned about $1/day working in local crop fields. Since working with COPO over the last few years, she is now able to purchase clothes for her family, rent land where she can grow her own crops, and purchase animals that can reproduce and sell for a profit. Sonya enjoys the fellowship with other women that COPO brings and she also enjoys sharing her earnings with those in her village who have nothing. Her dream is to stop renting land and be able to purchase her own land she can use to grow her own crops. She also hopes to buy her own bicycle for transportation.
Denise is 29 years old and is from the village of Karenge in Rwanda. She is married to Emmanuel and together they have two children. Before COPO, Denise had never worked a job and only cultivated her personal land. Her COPO earnings have allowed her to purchase new clothes for her family as well a rabbits that she can breed and sell. Her dream over the next year is to increase her income and grow the amount of animals she owns. Denise grew up in the church with her mom and used the church as her refuge from her rough family life. After marrying her husband, they have since joined the church in her village where they are continuing to grow together in faith.
Francine is 37 years old and is from the village of Kumuyumbu. She is married to Isumael and together they have 3 children. Francine’s favorite color is red, and she loves to eat bananas! When we asked Francine what COPO means to her she explained how it was an answered prayer. She now has more financial assurance and is able to help purchase food for her family. With her earnings she has been able to purchase a goat, which has since produced babies that she has been able to sell for a profit. She also is now able to afford to send her children to school. Since joining COPO and becoming a born-again believer, she has joined her church and has seen a major change in her household and marriage. Francine receives joy by seeing her children go to school every day and not seeing them sick anymore from having no food to eat.