Jon and Carla Reinagle are far from home. The Rolla couple, along with their three small children, have been serving the poor in the coastal town of Beira, Mozambique, since 2014. They are the founders of Equip Mozambique, a Christian organization that hopes to break the cycle of poverty through discovery, partnership and empowerment.
The couple met while studying at Missouri University of Science and Technology more than a decade ago. It was their interest in the foreign missions that brought them together. Carla graduated with a degree in English and Jon with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 2007. They got married and were soon on a plane to Mozambique to serve at orphanages. The two said that it was such a powerful experience that they stayed for three years. They returned home to Rolla in 2011 and worked at Missouri S&T but their hearts were in Mozambique. They did research on the country as well as programs and projects that successfully helped alleviate poverty and brought meaningful change to people suffering.
“What we’ve found is that after decades of civil war, Mozambicans need more than just classic charity and aid work that simply provides for the needs of today,” noted Carla. “That model so often perpetuates the poverty mentality in the recipients. Instead, what we are hoping to do is encourage and empower them to make a difference in their own lives and communities.”
Much of this is accomplished through Equip Mozambique’s sewing school called “Restoring Hope.”
“We train widows and single mothers how to sew and make that a livelihood,” explained Jon.
However, he added that they are doing much more than just sewing colorful aprons, bags and purses.
“I would say that the school is 60 percent about sewing and 40 percent about learning life skills,” he said. “These would include how to handle money, run a small business and run a household.”