#mcjourney2016, AFRICA TRIPS, FROM THE FIELD, Women at Risk

#MCJourney2016 Day Four : Women at Risk

The Mocha Club Journey team has landed back home safely in the States – back to the same work week but not back with the same heart posture. Each project partner we visited left us with a change in knowledge, perspective, & joy. One of our team members, Lizzie, shares about one such encounter…


From the Shadows into the Light: Renewing Hope for Women and Girls in Ethiopia


As we drive down the streets of one of Addis Ababa’s red light districts, dozens of young girls stand in the shadows against concrete walls, faintly illuminated by the cold glow of fluorescent streetlights. Girl after girl, with only a few feet separating one from the next, flash past us as we make our way down the rows of rundown shacks and dingy bars. Nebiyu, the program manager for Ellilta Women At Risk, takes us from one location to another, each street lined with dozens of sex workers waiting for their first customers of the night. I try to count how many there are, but quickly find it’s impossible – there are too many to count. In disbelief, I asked Nebiyu if there’s always this many girls out here. “No,” he explains, “it’s still early, and it’s a Sunday. There’s usually much more.”

This is life for thousands of women and girls in Addis Ababa. Figures estimate that there are as many as 150,000 prostitutes in the city alone, and the number is rapidly growing. Here, the price for sex runs as low as 10 birr, which is equivalent to less than 50 cents in US dollars. Women and girls who have entered into prostitution are marginalized, exploited, ignored; they are regularly victims of abuse, often living in poverty. So it’s a valid question to ask: Why would they do it?

In our culture, there is a common misconception that prostitution is a choice. However, I would argue that in most cases, prostitution actually arises from a lack of choice. In Ethiopia, many women come to Addis from rural areas across the country in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Over 80 percent of Ethiopia’s population lives in the countryside, where the average income is less than $1 per person per day. Desperate for work, girls will leave their rural homes and make the journey to Addis. However, without education or job training, many will eventually abandon hope in ever finding work and resign themselves to a life of prostitution with the belief that they have no other option.

For other women, sexual exploitation may be the only life they know. A vast majority of girls on the streets were victims of sexual abuse as children, with estimates ranging anywhere from 75 to 90 percent. Others are the product of intergenerational prostitution, where mothers involved in sex work will raise their daughters to follow in their footsteps. So the women we see standing on the street may not have been trafficked from another country, chained to a bed, and sold to strange men; but is there ultimately a difference between physical chains and psychological ones?

Regardless of how it begins, the outcome is often the same: frequent and often severe physical abuse, sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and addiction. One study found that 68 percent of prostituted women met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which falls within the same range as combat veterans and victims of torture. Women who are in prostitution also have a significantly higher death rate than women who are not.

It is apparent that the dangers are incredibly real but many perceive them to be inescapable. In a study conducted across nine countries, 89 percent of women involved in the sex industry are desperate to escape, but feel they are unable to overcome their circumstances due to economic necessity, addiction, a lack of employment options, coercion, or access to basic human services such as a home, education, job training, counseling, or treatment. This is where organizations like Ellilta Women at Risk step in to break the cycle of exploitation and abuse. Through their programs, Ellilta Women at Risk has renewed hope for over a thousand women, giving them a life of freedom and restoration.


The Program:

Ellilta Women at Risk (EWAR) is a holistic 21-month program for women who want to escape the commercial sex industry. Throughout the entire program, women are given access to free childcare and a monthly stipend, which frees them from the financial pressure to return to the streets to support themselves and their children. The first six months are dedicated to counseling, nutrition, and treatment. The following six months provides the women with training in a marketable skill, job placement, and any assistance if they wish to start their own business. After 12 months, the women will have successfully graduated from the program but will continue to have monthly check-ins for an additional nine months as they begin to search for new jobs or start their own business.

Ellilta Women at Risk has a partnership with Ellilta Products, which is a company that provides additional job training and employment to women in the Women At Risk program (to learn more about their story, visit www.elliltaproducts.com).


To ensure that their children are cared for throughout the duration of the program, EWAR also covers any school fees and provides daycare services, after school tutoring, psychosocial and medical support, organized activities, and summer day camps. This provides children with a safe place to live, play, learn and grow.


During a field study conducted in local schools and churches, EWAR found that the average age that a person enters prostitution is age 12. At this age, children who have grown up in an atmosphere where sex work has been normalized begin to view their bodies as a source of income. To prevent and protect these children from sexual exploitation, EWAR meets with local schools and churches to educate the community on the risks and damaging effects of prostitution.

From victims to leaders:

90% of the women who graduate from the Women at Risk program never return to prostitution. These women transform themselves from victims into survivors, and from survivors into leaders. Many go on to start new businesses, and often return to support and train other graduates. Relationships are renewed, families are transformed, and hope is spread through the entire community. EWAR has been so successful in their work that grassroots ministries from over a dozen African countries have duplicated their model and are now transforming the lives of thousands of women all across Africa.

The morning after the night drive, Nebiyu drove with us to the Women At Risk program center in Nazareth, a city about 2 hours outside of Addis. Our van came to a stop in front of a colorful gate surrounded by high walls. The dark images in our minds of countless young girls hidden in the shadows melted away as the guard opened the gate and we walked into a bright courtyard filled with lush greenery, mango trees and orange hibiscus flowers. Several stations with sewing machines and vibrant fabrics were set up in the sunshine, and we were instantly met with warm smiles and the sounds of laughter. It was immediately obvious to all of us that this place was a safe haven; a world away from the life that these women once lived.

The transformative power of this program in the lives of these women, their families, and their communities cannot be overestimated. I will never forget these women, their stories, their strength or their bravery. I will never forget the smiles on their faces or their tears of joy. I will never forget the love they pour into their families and each other, or the love they have fought to pour back into themselves.

Partner with Mocha Club in supporting Women at Risk!

#mcjourney2016, AFRICA TRIPS, HIV/AIDS + Healthcare

#MCJourney2016 Day Three : HEKO


Four days have flown by already on #MCJourney2016, but somehow we’ve seen and heard more than words can summarize. We as a group have been talking about our experience so far, and we all relate to the beautifully frustrating struggle to communicate to our loved ones about this trip. Translating this mix of joy, despair, gratitude, conviction, grace, and overwhelming hope into words is no easy task.

I have to be the first to apologize to my friends and family for inadequately describing the nature of our journey as a whole. When asked in casual conversation why I was heading to Africa with the Mocha Club, I’d often say a quick response like, “To continue work with ongoing service projects” or simply, “With a non-profit.” Let me be so clear: this is no mission or volunteer trip. This journey is more like a learning trip or a listening trip; a let-me-know-your-story-so-I-can-genuinely-love-you-well trip. We joked today that it should be called a RelationTrip because that really is our whole goal. 

We are here to create and sustain relationships with African organizations who work within and through community members. We are here to listen to them tell us their greatest needs, and to hear directly from them about how to meet them in ways they know will best for the community. The “work” the Mocha Club has led us to do here exemplifies a quote I recently heard from Alexander Shaia: “Service is really going out with open hands and realizing that we’re standing in the presence of a magnificent other who is going to teach us.” Boy, we have learned so much in these four days. 

As a Mocha Club member, I had heard of each of the projects we would be visiting but I knew little about the stories behind them. What a gift it has been to sit down with founders of organizations like New Dawn Educational Centre and Heritage Kenya Organization (HEKO) to hear them explain, from the very beginning, how their visions came to life here in Kenya. 


We spent yesterday afternoon at HEKO in the Kibera slum. Kibera sits in the center of Nairobi where over 500,000 people live in extreme poverty with little to no access to food, water, education, or physical/mental health care. Founders Peter and Monica Odero, residents of Kibera, recognized a growing issue specifically surrounding women with HIV/AIDS as the disease became more prevalent in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Societal stigma left many of these women abandoned by their husbands and completely shut out from family members who viewed HIV/AIDS as a (often inaccurate) reflection of immoral behavior or infidelity. Their homes were taken away, and these women were left with no way to feed their families or care for themselves. 

HEKO exists today to provide women with HIV/AIDS access to counseling to cope with their circumstances, nutritional education to ensure their medications work effectively, and physical activity to foster a community who moves and finds joy together. HEKO’s overall focus is to empower women with HIV/AIDS as they learn new skills to create products through which they earn a sustainable living.


Listening to each woman’s story served as evidence of a yet another miracle in an unlikely place. Women receiving support through HEKO have seen major health improvements and some have even watched their children graduate from college. They have found light in dark circumstances, and community when they were once neglected and alone. And to think, this history of redemption all began when Peter and Monica chose to fight for a group of women who’d been told they were irredeemable.

Our time at HEKO was beautiful because it allowed us to peek into the darker corners of the lives of these women, particularly those who are afraid to share their diagnosis with neighbors and friends. But it also convicted me and begged to me to consider: Who am I overlooking? Whose gaze do I struggle to meet because I don’t “feel comfortable” loving them?  Instinctively, I want to wave my angry finger the families of these women — the relatives who left them with nothing — and tell them, “How dare you? How could you forget them?” But in truth, I have blindspots too. I’ll admit I have a hard time looking at the man on the corner with a handmade sign as he asks for help. I am fully aware of the thousands of people struggling to survive in my own community, and yet I carry on as if they’re not there. So many women in Kibera have a life and a hope because someone chose to seem them. What if we also made an effort to see those people and places we’ve kept behind our self-constructed walls?

If you have been moved by the work Peter and Monica Odero do through HEKO, you can contribute to their efforts today. Like right now! Peter assured us yesterday that the small sacrifice of one cup of coffee most certainly improves the lives of these women. More than this, when we empower one woman, we also guarantee a future for her children and we encourage growth throughout all of Kibera.

To learn more about how you can support this cause and many others, head to: http://www.themochaclub.org/journey


Mochatern Monday 06.06.16 : Mocha Club Sessions

Hello Mocha Club!

I hope you are having a wonderful Monday! If you got a chance to attend the Mocha Club Sessions then you know how awesome it was. I got to work the merchandise table, but hearing every artist perform blew me away. It was amazing seeing everyone come together for a great cause and I am so glad I got to help be a part of it. Stay tuned for the next date of Mocha Club Sessions because you will NOT want to miss it. Follow along and share your photos : #MochaClubSessions

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Being an intern here at The Mocha Club is pretty awesome because you get to do fun things like this. Never would I have imagined ever getting to experience things like this. I am so excited to see what the rest of the summer here has in store for me!

Peace and blessings,


Mochatern Monday 5.31.16 : Worry fixes nothing

Hello Mocha Club!

Today’s blog is inspired by a quote I found that has really been on my heart lately.

“If something is wrong, fix it. But train yourself not to worry, worry fixes nothing.” – Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorite authors and this is one of his best quotes, in my opinion.

This quote fits me, and others, so well because when I do something wrong or mess something up, I worry about it for about a week. No, seriously. If you ask any of my friends or family members, they would tell you the same thing. I don’t stop worrying about that mess up until I have it fixed. If I get in an argument with a friend, I dwell on that and only think about how to fix it until it is fixed. I am guilty of putting others before me all. of. the. time. And if I do something to make that person mad, I worry about it. Basically, to sum myself up, I am a worrier. A huge worrier.

After reading the quote a few days ago, it really got me thinking. So what if I make a mistake? I can fix it. So what if I make a D on a test? I will do better on the next one and study harder. Don’t worry about the little things! Life goes on. It is no big deal, and you can fix it. But don’t dwell on it. Because, like Hemingway said, it fixes nothing.

Peace and blessings,


UPDATE : Anna from “One Woman’s Story”

IMG_3398A couple weeks ago, we shared Anna’s story with you – a woman who fell into prostitution in the streets of Ethiopia in desperation to support herself and her daughter. Through the worked done by Women at Risk and supported by members of the Mocha Club, Anna was rescued off the streets & started participating in the program. She received counseling, child care for her daughter, and a safe place to be.

Today, we received an update from the staff at Ellilta -Women at Risk about Anna and her progress through the program.

Anna is currently in the structural counseling program, but she also started working some job skills washing clothes and cleaning a barber shop in order to support her income. She started living with her sister to share expenses for the house and meals and things were going very well. Then one day, she found a written letter from her sister saying “Am gone search me no more”. She also received a call from her mom who was sick and needed looking after. These challenges postponed Anna from attending the rehabilitation program and was absent for two days without informing to the social workers and they decided togo to her house to know the reason why she was absent. Anna was completely surprised but also excited when she saw the social workers – in the midst of feeling worthless & like no one care for her, the visit by E-WAR staff encouraged her and she realized she DID have someone who cared for her.

After hearing Anna’s story, the staff decided to contribute some money to help pay for her rent so she could support her mother. Currently Anna has returned to the program at Women at Risk and is using her job skills training to prepare fast food meals to sell.

“The challenges I faced makes me to come up with solutions so am no more afraid of any challenges.”

Support women like Anna

*Out of respect & safety of our partners, names have been changed.


Welcome, our new summer Mochatern : Meet Katherine!

It’s summertime! And we are excited for what this season holds for the Mocha Club. We have lots of events lined up to share our passion to work in Africa and partner with incredible people across the world to make lives better for those in need. Our mochaterns are a big part of making an impact in Africa, by simply joining our hearts in the work we do. We are excited to have Katherine join our team!

FullSizeRenderName: Katherine Daniels

Hometown: Brentwood, TN

University/Year/Major: Middle Tennessee State University. Senior. Leisure Sports and Tourism Studies major with a focus on event planning.

Favorite Place: New York City

Walk up song: What Do You Mean by Justin Bieber

Nashville bucket list: take the country music stars homes tour, visit every museum in Nashville, and go to CMA Fest.

How do you take your mocha: it has to be medium roast coffee with hazelnut creamer. SO yummy!

Guilty pleasure: binge watching Friday Night Lights

Why are you excited about interning with Mocha Club: I am excited to intern with Mocha Club because it is a new experience for me, I know that I am going to gain more knowledge of the Mocha Club as well as helping with the events, and getting to meet new people!

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#mcjourney2016, AFRICA TRIPS, Uncategorized

Mocha Club Journey 2016 : Meet the team!

T minus one month and we will be heading out on the Mocha Club Journey 2016!

This summer we are headed to Ethiopia and Kenya!  We will spend time with our partners at Women at Risk in both the capital city of Addis Ababa, and in Nazareth, a town a few hours outside of the city. We will also visit New Dawn Educational Centre and Heritage Kenya Organization (HEKO) in Nairobi, Kenya. Our trips provide an opportunity for Mocha Club members and their friends to visit Africa and witness firsthand what giving up a few mochas a month can do, while having a chance to serve the African people. The trip will be 12 days long and we team up with the local indigenous leaders in each country to serve alongside them in the orphanages, schools, and other various projects that Mocha Club supports.

We have assembled & would like to introduce you to our team…

Trip Leaders:


Curtis Stoneberger has been a long-time friend of Mocha Club and currently stands as the Director of US Programs. His first trip to Africa was a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with MC Artist, Sidewalk Prophets. He enjoys rides on his motorcycle, family time at his cabin, and music.




Fallon Klug officially joined the Mocha Club team in Nashville in early 2013, but has   been a long-time member and supporter.  As the MC Manager of Administration, she’ll make sure your trip to Africa is just one of the many ways you stay connected to the club! Fallon loves dancing, her puppy Henry, and leftovers.



IMG_2833Meet Allie.

I am a Mocha Club member and a graduate student currently living in Lansing, Michigan. I love hearing people’s stories and having a heart for children led me to pursue a degree in school psychology. I love to spend as much time outside as I can (even if that’s only April-October in Michigan!). I find joy in: coffee, music, books, dancing (poorly), and helping others feel seen, heard, or appreciated.



Meet Lizzie.

I live in Nashville, Tennessee. I grew up in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, but I guess I finally got tired of the rain so I packed up my car and moved to the south! From 9 to 5, I work as a personal banker for consumers and small businesses. The rest of my time is filled with friends, Mexican food, sailing, Netflix, runs in the park, and politely asking strangers if I can pet their dog. I’ve been a Mocha Club member since 2010 so I’m incredibly excited to be joining them on this trip and so grateful for the opportunity to visit all the places and meet all the people behind the amazing projects they support.



Meet Brittany.

I am the Executive Director/Founder of a Nonprofit called Beneath The Skin. We provide Peer to Peer mentoring and resources to youth and young adults who struggle with anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, etc. in order to support, equip, and guide them on a path of self-love and worthiness. I have an incredibly supportive Husband who travels as a touring musician full time, he had the opportunity to meet Katie with the Mocha Club which in turn, allowed us to get more involved. I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to go on this adventure and learn from the incredible people of Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as the group I will be traveling with! The Mocha Club is truly changing lives and to play even a small role through supporting their mission and giving back is the least I could do! 



Meet Robby.

I was raised in south Louisiana, surrounded by the arts! Drawing, painting and music were all big parts of my life. When I was about 13yrs old, photography stepped into the picture (do pun intended..)!

I fell in love with taking photographs at the same time I fell in love with a cute blonde in my grade that some years down the road for some crazy reason said yes to marrying me!

We moved to Nashville during our first year of marriage to continue the pursuit of wold domination via. entertainment photography and once we arrived in music city, we really hit our stride! 

4yrs later, we live in East Nashville with our 2 kids Charlie Brown (Chocolate Lab) and Dwayne Michael “Carter” III (Golden Retriever). I’m working mainly in the entertainment, celebrity and editorial worlds of photography, traveling often and enjoying every minute I get here in Music City!

Website : robbyklein.com



 Meet Steve.

Booking live concerts and personal appearances, managing day-to-day business affairs, and assisting artists and other talented entertainers with long-term strategies for their careers is what I’ve called work for the past 23 years.  I spent almost 19 of those years working for a nationally recognized booking agency and artist management group.  However, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long and it’s hardly felt like work… at least most of the time.  Yes, the business side of the industry can try anyone’s patience, but I cannot express how grateful I am to have had this privilege of working with some of the most creative and artistic people in the world.  I think seeing, hearing, and experiencing things that reflect God’s image to the world around us, whether the artist acknowledges it or not, is truly something special.

Originally from Los Angeles, I lived there until 2008 when my family and I moved to Dallas.  After spending eight valuable years in Texas, we moved to Nashville in October of 2015.  Although I continue to travel throughout the year to oversee Stonewood Entertainment’s concerts and special events, my greatest joy is spending time with my wife Jen, our five children (Piper, Elijah, Ryleigh, Micah, and Josiah) and our new community of friends and neighbors.  And when I’m not at home, I enjoy playing basketball, camping, reading, listening to music, trying new desserts, and riding motocross.  Tell me about an adventure and an opportunity to see God at work… and you’ve got my attention!