As I come to the last days of 2020, I want to slow down to reflect on what I have experienced and learned from this unique year – individually as a person and collectively as an organization. My personal bent – our bent – here at Courage tends to always be one of eternal optimism. We see the good in people and situations even when it looks bad. We view our “cup” as overflowing even when it isn’t full. Our narrative is one of water-walking faith where an unseen God directs our path. We believe in miracles and answers to prayer for we have seen plenty of both in the 15 years this organization has existed.
Then 2020. This year has brought experiences, conversations and thought patterns never before encountered in my 60 years on this planet. This global pandemic seems to have taken over our thoughts, our conversation and most news outlets. It has been a determining factor in our decisions to travel, to gather… to even hug.
Moving forward, what do we do with all this new information and experiences?
For me, for us, at Courage it has us planning for the “what if’s” – what if’s like:
What if travel is shut down again and volunteer teams can’t come?
What if schools & colleges close again forcing us to have 20 additional residents’ “home” at Courage House?
What if one of our staff or residents contracts the virus?
What if donors stop giving because they have lost their jobs?
Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
This is my mantra for the new year. I want us to keep being who we are… optimistic and full of faith. However, I also believe we must take time to plan and be prepared for the “what if’s”. This is wise in light of what 2020 has taught us.
Here are the contingency plans we are making.
1. We need to have a surplus of beds, clothing & supplies for when we say yes to bringing a new girl home or for when there is a closing of schools/colleges – whether that is a pandemic or summer break. We have classrooms that can be converted to personal living space in light of an emergency but we don’t have a surplus of beds, clothing & supplies. We would like to have 10 additional beds and personal items by the end of January. Estimated Cost $2,000
2. We need to bring on additional part-time staff members in the event one of our staff members gets sick, has to take leave due to family emergency or contracts the virus. With the 5 additional part-time staff members, we could then bring them on full-time in the event of an emergency. We would like to recruit, hire and train these 5 individuals and ready to on board them by the end of February. Estimated Cost $3,000
3. We need to have a cash surplus of 2 month’s operating expense in the bank. As I mentioned above, we live by faith – which means we don’t have any large government or foundation grants. Our budgeted is prayed in each month and given by people just like you – people who have a heart to see children and young women rescued and restored from the evil of sex trafficking. You and God have never failed us. However, we believe we need to be proactive. With that in mind, we have applied for a grant with the United Nations as well as other foundations who believe in the mission and vision of Courage Worldwide. We are also asking for your help to accumulate these 2 months of operating costs. We never want any of our girls to miss a meal or a staff member miss a paycheck. We are asking you to prayerfully consider giving towards this savings account so that we have a surplus in the bank in the event of emergencies. We would like to have this by the end of February. 2 Months Operating Expense $50,000
These are the 3 priority contingencies that we are focusing on right now. Our Executive Directors for Tanzania will be meeting with our Board of Directors, Executive Team and staff members to continue having conversations and making plans for the worst case.
1. Double our capacity of victims we can serve. We want to bring home more girls! That is why we do what we do. We currently have 30 residents at Courage House. We want to increase that number to 60 girls (and their children) by the end of 2021. We are so excited that a donor has committed to raise money for an additional residential building to double our capacity. We then will need operation costs for 6 months with additional staffing and furnishing to make this a reality. Estimated cost $30,000
2. Enhance our educational offerings at the Courage School. For safety reasons, our under 18 residents attend school on campus at Courage House. We need additional educational supplies – from books, to desks, and new school uniforms – to elevate their learning experience. We also in 2021, want to hire an Educational Director to oversee the school and to ensure the highest level of education for our residents. Estimated cost $16,500
3. Open Courage Café. Our girls need jobs! They need ways to earn money so that they are never vulnerable to traffickers who persist in exploiting any weakness or vulnerability. We have the land, we have the building and we have over 18 residents who wish to be trained in this career. We just need the supplies needed to open the café. Tables, chairs, coffee maker, food prep, etc. Estimated cost $15,000-20,000
4. Increase Merchandise Inventory for Online & in the Café. One of the ways we planned for a decrease in giving was to increase our merchandise sales of items the girls hand make. However, when the US shut down and we couldn’t hold events, we launched the online store in December. We need to increase our merchandise offering for online and also for when we open Courage Café. Estimated cost $5,000
5. Host More Community Anti-Trafficking Events & Trauma Trainings. Not only do we want to service this victim population well with our Courage House residential program and school, we also want to stop this evil from happening! We want to get into more schools, churches, community meetings, any gatherings where we can educate the community as to this crime and the negative impact it has upon its victims. Estimated cost $5,000
Here in the United States, COVID has also negatively impacted our vulnerable children. We have less and less families who are signing up to be foster parents. I have talked with many of my social worker friends who say they have no place, no home, no family for these vulnerable children. This breaks my heart. We at Courage continue to have conversations with various state agencies here in the U.S. to prototype Courage House and bring these children home. Please keep us in your prayers as we continue this dialogue.
We continue to support our former residents as they navigate independence. We offer them free counseling as well as assistance with things like rent, childcare and transportation. We are so proud of them and the choices they are making. We believe in them as they learn to believe in themselves.
This is our happy place! The place of believing and planning. The place of faith.
However, 2020 has been a good teacher. We will plan for the unexpected. I do believe this is wise, but we will also keep dreaming big dreams for these amazing young ones we serve!
I can’t thank you enough for your prayers and financial support. We think of you as partners in this enormous dream God put on my heart to build homes for these children and call them family. Please consider giving.
Founder and CEO, Courage Worldwide