I’m excited to share about this ministry, the work they’re doing, and the lives they’re changing. No. 41 was started by Tara Clapper and you’ll read a bit of her story here.
1. How did No. 41 start?
After a 2-week mission trip in December 2010, I followed my little broken heart back to Rwanda, begging God to use me in any way He saw fit. I didn’t have a plan, but I trusted that He did.
In June 2011, I moved into the Noel Orphanage, home to 500+ children ranging in age from a few weeks to their late 20’s. So many things I saw going on around me bothered me, but I decided to zero in on two, the oldest girls and the local school lunch program.
No. 41 started on a whim and a prayer in March 2012, with the intent of teaching these young women from the Noel Orphanage in Gisenyi, Rwanda (ages 18-25) not only to sew, a culturally relevant trade that would always sustain them, but to give back to their community through a feeding program supporting local schools.
2. Who do you serve?
We serve 32 young women; 21 women from the orphanage, as well as 11 from the surrounding village. We have 9 mamas better providing for their 13 children and 17 of our young women are now enrolled in university.
These great ladies serve 750 school students by providing a hot, healthy lunch everyday with the profits of bag sales.
3. What’s your purpose?
There are, roughly, 100 young adults over the age of 18 living at Noel; with no family and limited resources, the prospect of university or becoming gainfully employed is low. Along with that, confidence is low, dreams are small and hope is almost non-existent. It was important for me, not only to provide a means of sustainable employment doing a culturally relevant trade for these girls, but also to remind them that they were created by a great God, for an even greater purpose. We all have been given gifts and talents and once realized we should spend those helping others and that’s where the feeding program comes in.
4. What are the needs you have right now?
Our greatest need right now is in the set-up of the feeding program. We started the program thinking that we would be feeing 250 kids, only to find out that, over the course of a couple of months, the number had grown to 650 and the final count that we received, just weeks before starting was 750 kids! The increasing number of children called for more dishes, bigger pots, more cook staff, more stoves, more tables and seating. Our financial need is great, but we know our God is greater! You can read about our fundraising campaign here: http://tarajill.blogspot.com/2012/11/a-bit-of-backtracking.html
*Update 5/8/13: Now that the feed program is up and running, we are currently feeding 870 students and 36 teachers everyday. We employ 4 cooks, a night guard, and a general manager.*
5. What’s a challenge you face currently or see on the horizon?
I think our greatest challenge as No.41 continues to grow is to continue trusting Him in the midst of all the unknown. When this business began, we had very little money, a small dream, and a whole lot of faith. Today, ten months later, we have very little money, a large and growing dream, and even more faith. I have seen God move mountains for the girls and these children, but there is still a long way to go. Some days it feels overwhelming, some days it’s too much. But, the truth is I didn’t do any of this. It was never about my talents or my abilities and I want to continue walking in that which is beyond me, because I know that leaves plenty of room for the greatest moves of God.
6. How can people get involved in helping?
Donate. Spread the word. Sponsor a girl. Volunteer time and ideas.
7. Who can volunteer?
Anyone can volunteer! Short-term, long-term. In Rwanda or in the States. We are happy to talk with anyone interested.
8. If someone wants to become involved, who do they contact and how?
Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have one of the burlap bags Tara mentions that supports the feeding program. One of my favorite things about it is that it comes w/ the picture of the woman who made it and a little of her story. I have Clarisse’s picture above my kitchen sink and it’s my way of remembering to pray for her, for the work God’s doing there, and for continued provision. If you’d like to purchase goods, donate, or learn more about the girls that make up No. 41, go visit them at www.no41.org. In MIdland, you can find them at Pink Tumbleweed, 4410 North Midkiff. Or in Oklahoma City at Plenty Mercantile, 807 North Broadway Ave. Go show them some love!