The seeds that would become The Rainbow Network were sown when founder Keith Jaspers worked with President Jimmy Carter during the foundational years of Habitat for Humanity. There he witnessed the transformational power of basic housing in the lives of America’s poorest families.
A trip to Nicaragua convinced Keith and wife Karen Jaspers that their mark on the world should be made in the jungles of Central
America. Across return visits, they learned that the same strength that allowed Nicaraguan families to exist on $2 a day could be harnessed to transform entire communities and even regions.
The Nicaraguan people were welcoming of change, and were willing to work hard – hand in hand – with the U.S. citizens who made the one-day trip to their country to help them build a better life.
In addition to embracing change, these poorest of the poor were readily organized by Rainbow Network staff, with many volunteering to take on added duties for the collective good of their neighbors. That volunteerism is the underpinning of Rainbow Network’s approach, significantly reducing program labor costs and allowing each donated dollar to be stretched to provide maximum educational, housing, economic and health resources. Through their service, much of the shared responsibility for Rainbow’s success lies with those who have or are benefiting from the programs.
The attitude of Nicaraguans embody the spirit of Luke 12:48 – “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.” The Nicaraguan people are naturally radiant in their hope for a better life. We at the Rainbow Network have been blessed to reflect and channel that light, which is a critical part of our success these past 20 years.