After reading "H is for Hope," Ben Zimmerman hopes to go to
"H is for Hope" is an alphabetical tour of the work Rainbow
Network does in
Rainbow Network was looking for a way to provide churches with a resource
for teaching issues of social justice to their children, and the book seemed
to be the perfect venue, says Ryan Owen,
And Jackson, a longtime supporter, seemed to be the perfect author. "Louise is a masterful storyteller," he says.
"Labor of love"
This one, however, is a "labor of love," providing her with no
royalties. In fact, she paid her own way to
Despite years of financially supporting the organization and learning
about the impact it had in
There, she saw vibrant villages like Ciudad Sandino filled with sturdy homes with roofs that don't leak and tile floors, families running successful businesses, children attending schools, medical clinics and more.
And she saw poor villages like Ciudad Dario, dotted with shacks and filled with hungry people who have never seen a doctor or learned to read.
The difference is Rainbow Network, which provides ways for communities to
flourish through assistance with housing, food, water, education, medical
care and microloans for businesses. "I wanted to see the final
She saw the results in the face of a woman who worked in a sweat shop to support her young siblings after their parents' deaths. The woman went from suicidal to successful with the help of a microloan to start her own small shop, and she is now sending her brother to college.
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She saw a woman who now provides for her family as a dressmaker, and men
whose sawmill turns a profit from both planks and sawdust. "It's the
stories I didn't know before,"
A Christian context
Jackson hopes that churches will use the book and its stories in Sunday school classes for children ages 8 and older to learn about need and how to respond to that need within a Christian context.
Ben and sister Kelsey, 8, believe the book would work well in their Sunday school classes at National Avenue Christian Church, which has supported Rainbow Network for several years.
Kelsey says she likes the real-life examples of how children are helped. "Like they give them shoes. ... I really liked how Rainbow Network really helps them a lot," she says.
"B stands for Barefoot children who are too poor to buy shoes," the book reads.
"You can do one whole lesson on this," she says.
Chase Heilman has wanted to shoot photographs for Rainbow Network for
years. The 2005
Those friends brought him into contact with Owens, who saw the quality of Heilman's work and invited him to be part of the project.
He loved the "optimism" of the people he spoke with in the Rainbow Network villages. "Everyone seemed to be in a mind-set that they were going to be successful," he recalls.
Heilman hopes that his photos reflect both the need and the optimism. Some of the photos didn't make it in the book, but are available to view on his website.
His favorite is a startling photo of a nearly starved dog, its skeleton clearly visible and its sad eyes heartbreaking. Dogs like that, he says, were a common sight in the poorest villages, while the villages that have been working with Rainbow Network had healthy dogs whose tails wagged as they ate scraps from a family's table.
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"The health of the dogs in the community is a way to showcase the health of the community itself," he says.
"You have to think about your audience more," he says. "You have to convey a message to people who don't have the experience of adults."
At the same time, he hopes the book and his photos will help those
children "understand there are people who don't have what they have in
It is a lesson Heilman also learned. "People have tiny problems in their lives compared to what you see down there," he says. "And this is just one country" experiencing that level of poverty. "You have to put things in a broader context."
Both author and photo illustrator share a passion to help the poor people
It has already stirred a passion in Ben and Kelsey Zimmerman. Kelsey would
like to put together an "action plan" to collect money and food for