La Crescent High School grad helps abused and at-risk women in Africa

Rachel Schuster heads for Swaziland on one-month mission trip

A few years ago, a former La Crescent High School teacher started a non-profit organization called Hosea’s Heart that helps abused and at-risk women in Swaziland, Africa, and what started out as one teacher’s goal is now a former student’s next step in life.

When Rachel Schuster was just a freshman in high school, her teacher, Mary-Kate Martin, told her stories about the women in Swaziland.

It didn’t take long for Schuster to realize that she wanted to help. Four years later, she is getting the chance to meet the women she has been helping for years.

For 17-year-old Schuster, it’s hard to believe that she is done with high school.

“It’s gone by so fast,” said Schuster.

Although time often changes goals and dreams, one thing has remained the same.

“My freshman year I told Ms. Martin that once I graduated I was coming, so I started filling out the application in November,” said Schuster.

Before heading off to college in the fall, Schuster will be going on a mission trip to Swaziland for about a month because of a former teacher’s passion to help others.

“I had her my freshmen year,” said Schuster.

Martin used to teach English at La Crescent High School, but during her time there, she taught students a lot more than that.

“Our teacher told us a lot about her trips to Africa,” said Schuster. “She would tell us about the girls and how their parents were selling them and they were profiting the money, so it was a vicious cycle and they couldn’t get out.”

“These girls were our age and having to sell their bodies for a bar of soap or a bite to eat one night.” said Schuster.

After hearing Martin talk about the treatment of women in Swaziland, Schuster decided to do something to help.

“Four years ago I started a fundraiser with a friend for these girls,” said Schuster. “The first two years we did soccer and the last two years we did football.”

To date, Schuster has raised about $4,000 for Hosea’s Heart.

“They bought a house there for about 18 girls. They live there and go to school and have shelter, and it’s all free,” said Schuster.

Schuster will get the chance to meet the women she has been helping for the last four years.

“I am most looking forward to working with the girls and building relationships with the girls,” said Schuster.

Schuster will also take supplies that have been donated over the years, including notebooks, pens and paper and games.     

She will return around July 19. News 8 keep in touch with her to get an update once she is back in the area.

Hosea’s Heart is hoping to raise enough funds to open a second “Hope for Life” home in Swaziland for more women in need. 

If you would like more information about Hosea’s Heart, check out its Facebook page at

You can also follow Schuster’s blog as she travels to Africa at