One of the persistent challenges we face as an organization is communicating the intense desperation many families experience in Rwanda. For those of us who spend time in the United States, we take much for granted. While we may not feel like we have all the educational choices we would like, we must admit most students in the U.S. have the opportunity for a decent education. Further, American culture values education overall and we have social systems which support and nurture access to education.
This is not true in many countries around the world. How do we determine who gets to study at Hope Haven and who doesn’t?
The desire for parents to have their children study at Hope Haven Rwanda has heightened over the years as our reputation has grown. Some have even relocated to neighboring villages to try to secure a spot for their student. I cannot even begin to describe the difficulties our local team faces as they regularly field requests for enrollment from hundreds of pleading families.
We know that it is impossible to serve everyone, so we try to be as fair as possible. After prayerful consideration, for several years now, we have instituted a registration lottery.
If you are interested, I’ve included some emotion-filled photos, a video and a few details about our most recent lottery:
Families registered weeks in advance. When the window closed, we had 761 registrations. On lottery day, families gathered very early in the morning on our football field praying that their name would be drawn. Rwandan government officials, including public health monitors and law enforcement, were on-site and assisting throughout the process.
We drew 80 lottery numbers in the center of the field. After staff children, twin siblings and special cases were admitted we ended up with 99 selectees for the class of 2036.
Wait—think about that: 99 were selected after 761 initial registrations!
Of the 99 selected, 67 are from the lowest two poverty categories in Rwanda. To be in these categories means their parents are not on anyone’s payroll and they live on approximately $2 per day.
52% of the selectees are female, 48% are male. 69 of the families selected are new to Hope Haven, while 20 of them have a sibling at the school already.
“Casting lots” is what Scripture calls lottery processes like this, and according to my good friends at GotQuestions, the practice is mentioned seventy-seven times in the Bible.
A clear example of casting lots is found in Numbers 33:54: “You shall inherit the land by lot according to your clans…Wherever the lot falls for anyone, that shall be his.”
This system seems far from ideal, but it is the most equitable system we have come up with at this stage. We pray that God will continue to guide us each year as we continue to grow—900 students today will increase to 2,000 students over the next four years! We desperately need God’s wisdom to fulfill our calling.
I’d love to hear your ideas. Shoot me a message anytime. There will be many more difficult decisions like this for us as we rapidly expand, and we invite you to pray and partner with us on this exciting journey.
How does your faith inform your personal decision making?