10 Years of Hope

Time is a funny thing. Days can go by slowly, and yet the weeks can quickly blur into months and years. As I reflect on the last 10 years, I smile at how full and rich my life has been all Because of Hope. When we started BOH in 2011, we were 3 young college students with a heart for Africa and a lot to learn. As we waded into the unknown territory of starting a nonprofit, we embarked on a journey that would stretch us, challenge us, and forever change us.  

August 30, 2009

Driving down the red dirt roads, I gazed out the window, admiring the beauty all around. My heart soaked in the beautiful green landscape and the laughter of children who waved as we passed by. With every mile we traveled, my heart fell more in love with Uganda. We were greeted by women clothed in brightly colored dresses who welcomed us with singing and dancing. We saw their beautiful handmade jewelry, and we marveled at their talent and skill to turn strips of paper into beads. The women’s smiles were infectious and their joy radiant. 

WOCAP women smiling in Uganda

As we listened to some of the women’s stories, I sat stunned. So much joy; so much hope; and so much hardship. And yet, the joy of these women defied their circumstances, a hope deeply rooted in something greater. For many of these women, their hope is in Jesus and they trust in Him. I had never witnessed anything so rich, so tangible, so inspirational, a hope so visible and real. As I sat in this rural village of Namagera on August 30, 2009, I was overwhelmed by the living testimony of these women, not knowing they would change my life forever.

Two years later, we decided to partner with Widows and Orphans Community Action Plan (WOCAP) to work with these women. And it seemed only fitting to name our organization after the women’s incredible hope in Christ.

10 Years of Hope

The last 10 years have only affirmed what I saw that day in Namagera. 

When we started BOH in 2011, there was nothing “winning” about our starting formula. We were starting a nonprofit with little experience and no startup capital, in a country that was still recovering from a recession. In Uganda, WOCAP was struggling to keep operations going and to sell their women’s jewelry after a partner organization in the U.S. had fallen apart. And yet, despite obstacles on two continents, God was faithful.

Within months, God provided us with affordable housing, part-time jobs, and a free office space for BOH. In our first 3 months of selling the women’s jewelry, we sold nearly $10,000. And in Uganda, we got to jump years ahead in development, thanks to the established relationships and leadership WOCAP had built in 3 different villages.

Women in Uganda smiling with Because of Hope Founder Natalie Ruiz and her husband Daniel Ruiz.

In the years that followed, we would see God do the impossible. We have prayed for healing, and seen it. We have asked for free events and found them the same day. We have been desperate for funding, not knowing where it would come from, and yet it comes. During the pandemic, we have prayed for protection for our villages, and we have not seen a single case of COVID in our organization. And last year, God told us to buy food, and provided for our families in the face of food insecurity and hunger. He has been faithful.

I share this because this is what comes to mind when I think about the last 10 years. His faithfulness. God has carried our organization through seasons of drought and seasons of abundance, and He has been faithful in both. He has grown our organization to 7 different projects, offering the families of WOCAP opportunities in income, education, and agriculture. And He has changed my life in the process. In weaving together our story with the women of WOCAP’s, God has accomplished so much more than I ever could have imagined back on that August day in Namagera. And I stand in awe. 

Even Here

10 years later, I continue to be inspired by the resilient hope of our loved ones in Uganda. As I write this, Uganda is in a strict lockdown due to COVID-19, and food insecurity and hunger are a current reality for many. But even here, there is hope. We have been able to carry out additional food distributions and will continue to support our families through our projects. Together, we continue to press on, confidently knowing there is always hope, for He is always faithful.

Ugandan women and children smiling and waving.

We want to thank everyone who has been a part of this journey with us. God has used your encouragement, generosity, and prayers in deeper ways than I can communicate. You are part of the tapestry of our story and I want to thank you for this.

The last 10 years have not always been easy, but they have always been marked by hope. As we continue to run this race, may we run with endurance, reminded of the testimonies we have seen and confident in the God of all hope.

Written By Natalie Ruiz, Executive Director


  • Leslie Ooms

    I literally stumbled upon your organization the day you hosted a booth during Los Olivos Days this fall, 2021. A friend called me at home saying, “Leslie! There’s a nonprofit here representing Uganda! And I know you will love their jewelry.” I called up another friend and we drove over to Los Olivos. I did indeed love the women’s creations as my friend and I splurged on Christmas gifts.
    You see, I too have a nonprofit in Uganda. But you are so far ahead of us. We only received our Determination Letter from the IRS on the 21st of this month. It has been a two year struggle to achieve that during this era of Covid. During that time we also found it necessary to address the effects of the pandemic which was not on our radar when we embarked on this mission in 2019. Lacking the government infrastructure to help feed its people we stepped in quickly to ameliorate the dire effects of a severe lockdown and restrictions imposed by the government as it sought to limit the number of Covid infections. We partnered with Kids Around the World on two occasions for meal packing events. They are an amazing organization.
    I signed up for your emails and was so surprised to find that we share the same guiding light—Jesus Christ. But after reading your blog post I was no longer surprised that your organization thrives. You are a faithful follower of our God who is a faithful provider. God bless your work and the beautiful people you serve.
    Stay Blessed in Christ,
    Leslie Ooms
    Word Empowerment Ministries

  • Norm

    An inspiring story, beautifully worded, and obviously coming from the Spirit. I have seen you grow from a helpful and outgoing teenager in Westlake to head an international non-profit, recognizing along the way how God has worked in your life. You were gifted with the love and support of your home community, you have been grown by all the challenges you have faced and overcome, and it is wonderful to hear of the success of BOH. May your life continue to blossom and bear fruit in Uganda as well as here in the U.S.

  • Beth

    Natalie, it is so wonderful to read how the Lord has led you, encouraged you, and provided for these dear ones these many years. The LORD is faithful and so loving!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published