We’ve got another update from the Adjumani refugee camp where Mocha Club is providing zinc roofs for South Sudanese refugees!
Here, Tito, our South Sudan Country Director, shows Gabriel’s home in the camp. See the metal ridges on top of his house? Those are from members of the Mocha Club community — people just like you.
Ever doubt your mochas could make a difference? It only took one Mocha Club member to provide a roof like this one — each zinc sheet was $9. And we still need your help. Will you give up a few mochas a month to help continue our work with refugees?
But let’s take it back to the beginning — why roofs? Don’t refugees need food, water, medical care?
Mocha Club works through local Country Directors — leaders like Tito who live, work, raise their families, and are well known in the communities they serve. When we asked Tito how Mocha Club members like you could best serve the refugees fleeing South Sudan, he said in Adjumani, he kept hearing one thing over and over: a longing for something sustainable and long-lasting in the midst of near-constant uncertainty.
So they asked for zinc roofing to protect their families from the elements as long as they had to be there — a year, ten years, or perhaps even the rest of their lives. And you stepped in and met that need.
Through Mocha Club, you’re not just meeting physical needs. Tito recognized that the UN and other organizations were providing basic physical needs for refugees, but no one was focusing on their hearts.
Tito is holding trauma-healing workshops in the camps, helping refugees process what they’ve experienced and begin to heal. And once again, you, Mocha Club member, are behind him. The resources and materials he uses in those workshops? They’re from our Mocha Club members.
With solid roofs over their head and the community and resources to work through their experience, these families can truly begin to look toward the future. Thank you for your continued support of refugee families through Mocha Club. Your mocha matters.
We still need your help! Will you give up two mochas a month to help continue our work with refugees?
The fight against extreme poverty is not easy. War, refugee camps, hunger, rape, brutality – our South Sudan Country Director Tito has seen it all. He was conscripted by both the state and rebel armies of Sudan in his youth, lost family and friends to civil war, and has been forced to flee his home on more than one occasion.
Many of us would be ready to throw in the towel, tired of watching our country fall apart over and over again, but not Tito. He sees opportunity – a hope for his country as he is busy putting it back together. For more than a decade, Tito has been teaching local leaders how to engage with and improve their communities, even amid the harshest of conditions. And now, as so many South Sudanese are forced to flee their homes into neighboring Uganda – an estimated 800,000 so far, including Tito’s family – he is providing the comfort of a warm, friendly face welcoming many of them into northern Uganda’s refugee camps.
Tito is working diligently in several of these communities, starting leadership classes, holding trauma-healing workshops to help refugees process what they’ve experienced, and providing durable zinc roofs to those whose U.N.-issued tarps have failed to provide adequate shelter over their new homes.
And you, as a Mocha Club member, are right there standing beside him. Tito has transformed your everyday generosity into life change: the materials necessary for these workshops, the sheets of zinc that will protect refugees in their homes for a decade. You, me, Tito, members of the Mocha Club community around the world – we all play a role in providing a vital part of the healing process for refugees: HOPE. Your mochas matter in South Sudan.
REFUGEE: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster.
This definition has been my understanding of a refugee for years and the images we see on US television paint a grim reality that thousands endure each year as they are impacted by the trauma forcing them from their homes.
In February, I was able to go and visit Mocha Club’s Country Director and staff who are working in northern Uganda with refugees fleeing the war in South Sudan. As we began our drive into the camps, my heart was ready for what my head was sure I was about to encounter.
Our journey led us to Adjumani, Uganda where I first met Anthony, an older man with a kind smile who looked to be in his late sixties. He was standing in front of the tarped structure he now calls home. Last September, when the fighting got close to his village in South Sudan, he sent his mother, his wife, and his five young children to safety in Uganda. He stayed behind, separated from his loved ones, salvaging what he could of their farm until army rebels took over three months later, forcing him to flee.
As Anthony shared his story, I could see the fear and heartbreak he had lived through on his face. He was not sure what he would find as he crossed the Nile and made his way to the processing tent at Adjumani where all new refugees must go to get registered and ask about their relatives. Did his mother survive the trek three months ago? Were all of his children still alive? Would his wife be there? It’s a reality I truly can’t fathom.
Anthony’s story lined up with what I have seen on TV or witnessed in other camps before. I had expected Adjumani to be unfathomable: hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees; makeshift communities dotted with tarped roofs; tons of stories just like Anthony’s.
I’ve been in many places like this before – places where poverty, war and trauma are overwhelming and it looks like – it feels like – all hope is lost. In these camps, there is a tension that exists and becomes normal. Refugee vs. Peacekeeper. Refugee vs. Refugee. Refugee vs. Local. This tension is often even tangibly represented by a huge fence around the camp – not to keep refugees safe, but to keep them in. In this reality, a refugee is fighting to survive – they never even dream about thriving.
Adjumani is different.
As Tito, our South Sudan Country Director, showed me around, I began to see things I had not expected. I saw smiles, I saw community, I saw – HOPE. Tito pointed out opportunity, vision, dreams, and plans for a future here. He was breathing hope to life.
I struggled to reconcile what I had expected with what was right in front of me, then it hit me… these people’s lives had been entirely wrecked, forever altered. But they were finally at a place where they could stop running.
Hundreds of thousands of people like Anthony had fought to make it here. But when they arrived, they found kindness and were offered land next to their Ugandan neighbors. I was able to ask several Ugandans, “Why are you so willing to share your land, your schools, your economy with so many South Sudanese refugees?” Their response? “Because ten years ago, they did that for us.”
For decades, this region has lived with civil war, with night commutes and child soldiers. Where we see a line separating South Sudan and Uganda, they don’t see anything. They lived here long before that line was drawn; they’ve been neighbors for centuries; they’ve hosted each other in times of crisis. And they continue to do so — because when all else fails, community remains.
I now had a new understanding and appreciation for refugees. While what I saw was different than my expectations, it did not diminish the very real needs, which are still present. Remember those tarp roofs? Tito shared with us that they only last three months and an immediate need in the refugee community is to find a solution for them.Thanks to you and the Mocha Club community we have been able to provide zinc roofs for many of the refugee families.
Oh, and Anthony? His family is one that will benefit from the zinc roofs – the roofs that are a result of your mochas. That’s me, Anthony, and his wife Betty in front of their current home, tarp and all. Soon that tarp will be replaced by the zinc sheets he has received. And for the next ten years, those zinc sheets – your mochas – will be the solid roof over his family in this community that has become their home.
I asked Tito what was next – for the refugees and for how Mocha Club could support them beyond a solid roof under which their families could lay their heads. He said he dreams of a place where they can rest their hearts as well. So he is beginning to teach these refugees how to walk through their stories of trauma and loss and begin to heal.
Mocha Club’s community leader writes…Mvera is home to 300 villages in central Malawi. It is pretty difficult to get water in this area — because it is a hilly area full of rocks, the water springs dry out during the dry season and boreholes are hard to drill. There are two wells: one that functions and one that doesn’t and has been broken for years. So the 300 villages in Mvera all rely on this one functioning well — including those who live 3+ miles away from it.
Mvera is also home to one of Mocha Club’s local community development classes. As the class spent time out in the community, listening to friends, neighbors, and local stakeholders, the gravity of the water situation became very clear — Lack of clean water is something that affects everything and everyone in the community.
Women and girls are often the ones forced to spend their days going back and forth to the one working well; women even keep mats at the well so they can rest while they wait in the long lines and the young girls miss school classes in order to help their families retrieve water.
The students in the community development class found that the local hospital was having a hard time keeping up with the rate of water-borne illnesses. It has even had to push expectant mothers out of the hospital because there is no water. In addition, new businesses don’t want to set up shop in a town without water either.
So the class went to work. They talked to local engineers, parts suppliers, professional builders and plumbers to get suggestions, cost estimates, and timelines. Fixing the old well — which they found out was dug in 1922, originally to 36 meters deep — was time consuming and expensive as it had gotten so full of sand and mud over the past 95 years that it now went only 7 meters deep. So they went back to work, consulting more members of the community and water experts. Turns out they had local resources to complete a piping project that would take water from the functioning well to a new purification tank further out and then, once treated, from the tank through smaller pipes to a distribution area easily accessible by 5,000 people.
They put together a proposal which included a plan for strategically piping water and purifying it for those communities in need. The proposal includes how they would utilize local resources and also the opportunity for funding to make this project become a reality and sent the proposal to Mocha Club’s local Country Director. It went through a few rounds of vetting — ensuring the project was feasible, practical, locally sustainable — now it is time to act.
Here’s where you come in — your mochas can become Mvera’s clean water. Your everyday generosity, together with the rest of the Mocha Club community, will be the reason 5,000 have safe drinking water, a functioning hospital, fuller schools, and new economic opportunities. And it will be the reason the next community, and the next community, and the next community after Mvera get clean water.
Mocha Club Members, THANK YOU!
Not a member yet? Want to help provide clean water to Mvera and other communities? Will you give up a few extra mochas this World Water Day?
Join today and we’ll send you a Mocha Club water bottle as a thank you!
Have you ever thought about how the places you live and work and enjoy were once just an idea in someone’s head? Think about your school, your home, your favorite coffeeshop. They all began with a dream; a hope to support the life and joy of your community.
During MC Journey 2016, this awareness transformed our 12-day trip into a deeply meaningful experience. Each and every place we visited held a special memory — chatting with students and teachers at New Dawn, dancing with the women at HEKO while rain fell around our shelter, sitting on the sunlit porch at the Women at Risk recalling the darkness of the drive we took the night before — but more than anything, I loved hearing stories of how and why it all began.
Before our visit to each organization, we sat across the table from their founders as they graciously shared their personal journey leading to the realization of a need in their community. We had the privilege of hearing how places like New Dawn, HEKO, and Women and Risk were once dreams, turned into reality, and sustained by the support of every Mocha Club member. Can you imagine walking into a place for the very first time with that understanding of its history?
The hardest work you will do on your MC Journey will be to let go of your expectations and be fully present during every conversation, every story, every offer of service given to you. You will most certainly do more listening than labor. You will come to find that you are there not to serve, but be served. You will so clearly see how one cup of coffee supports African leaders with a vision for loving their community. You will see how one cup plants hope in many who felt hopeless, and how another empowers them to live independently in health and financial stability. But most importantly, you will be filled to the brim with a joy so moving I can hardly put it into words. Go. Go and see the power of a mocha.
Has it been life-long dream to travel to Africa? Do you have a heart to serve others around the world? Do you love to meet new people and find friends with common interests?
If you answered YES to any of the above, join the Mocha Club Journey 2017 trip to Africa this summer!
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.
Dates: June 11- June 22, 2017 (dates could vary 1-2 days on each side, depending on flight availability)
Curtis Stoneberger has been a long-time friend of Mocha Club and currently stands as the Executive Vice President of the organization. His first trip to Africa was a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Mocha Club Artist, Sidewalk Prophets. He enjoys rides on his motorcycle, family time at his cabin, and music.
Fallon officially joined the Mocha Club team in Nashville in early 2013, but has been a long-time member and supporter. As the Mocha Club Artist & Member Care Manager, 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.
If you’ve supported our education initiatives through Mocha Club or have ever participated in Ellie’s Run for Africa , you supported students at New Dawn Academy who have now graduated! With joy of new students starting school, there is also joy celebrating the students that are moving on to bigger things!
The lead up to graduation starts with final exams. In previous years, the students would take their exams at the school per normal but this year they were advised by the government and department of education to take the exams at a nearby teacher’s college. Transportation in Kenya is not as accessible as that in the States and so with the help of supportive parents, the students traveled to take their exams together:
“The parents chipped in and supported towards the transportation of students to and from the exam venue. They hired a bus that made it easier for the entire exercise to be concluded with minimal hitches. This required special/extra arrangements for the transport and meals. The candidates’ parents agreed to take up the cost for hiring transport to and from the exam venues. The school provided lunch for the candidates.”
And then came the big day!
“Several students gave short remarks regarding their experience at NDEC, all in appreciation of the opportunity to have been part of the family. The teachers too appreciated their time of interaction with the students and encouraged them to pursue opportunities to further their education and career objectives with the assurance that God would be with them all the way into the future.”
The staff at New Dawn wanted to gives thanks for the support of all who participated in Ellie’s Run and the donors from Mocha Club! These students couldn’t have done what they did without you.
Peter Odero, founder of HEKO shares with us some insight from an interview he had with a couple on social health disparities on stigma and discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS.
Q: Why do people not like going for HIV/AIDS Testing?
A: “Many people do not like going for HIV/AIDS Testing for fear of disclosure if tested positive. Stigma and discrimination is still a major factor among families and communities. People tested positive are still a subject of isolation even at such a time like this when a lot of information is available in the public domain because of the negative attitude people received about HIV/AIDS. Some facilities employ unqualified staff who have poor approach to clients. There is also fear of not getting proper attention among family members and even during counseling sessions.”
Q: Why do people default on ARVs?
A: There are many factors that cause people to default on ARVs:
False Prophesies: There are a number of healing churches which pose to have a healing strategy for people living with HIV/AIDS. People who are desperate are easily swayed and believe in such and deliberately decide to drop their adherence to ARV drugs.
Traditional Healers: Some people who are HIV positive easily believe in traditional healers and choose to default and go for traditional option. This is also common practice among slum dwellers.
Stigma, Discrimination or Denial: This is a common occurrence practiced among pregnant mothers who turn HIV positive after volunteer on HIV pregnancy test. Their spouses or immediate family members discriminate against them and many times are subjected to fear and become discouraged from taking their ARVs. At this stage, there are some who face hostility and resistance after disclosure of status.
Fatigue from Medicine: Majority of people on ARVs suffer from the burden of being under so many drugs prescribed due to opportunistic infections. Taking such drugs alongside ARVs causes fatigue and discomfort which result into default on ARVs.
Food and Nutrition: Dietary issue in nutritious meals go with ARVs given the fact that some of these drugs have clear warnings “do not take without food”. There is fear of taking ARVs in an empty stomach. This means that most people living below poverty level are at risk of defaulting.
Q: With all the facilities and information on the ground, why are some people not accessing these facilities?
A: “With all the facilities and information available on HIV/AIDS, people are still not freely accessing these facilities because majority are still having a feeling of fear, despair, and isolation when an HIV test result is positive. Stigma and discrimination is still causing a lot of challenges to the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS in the society. Some facilities are also not equipped with the right personnel to effectively handle cases where one is tested positive. Information of HIV tests are supposed to be personal and confidential to help restore confidence on the affected individual.
There are many cases where families or individuals have not yet received the correct information about HIV/AIDS. There are also many negative beliefs and assumptions about HIV/AIDS that has led to non-compliance attitude among community members.” Q: In your own opinion, what is the quality of life for people on ARVs?
A: “Many people on ARVs have accepted their new status and are living positive with HIV/AIDS despite challenges around them. Majority no longer suffer from fear and discrimination that characterize people tested HIV positive. They participate fully with the rest of their family members in the day-to-day socio-economic activities for their well-being to have sustainable resources to make them stay in treatment for a lifetime as they cope with local social disparities.
In my opinion, and in the eyes of majority, there is a sharp contrast between people on ARVs and the other people living with HIV/AIDS who are not yet on ARVs.”
Q:What would you like to be done differently from what is being done now?
A: “There is a need for a more collaborative approach to help deal with HIV/AIDS pandemic in our society.
More intensive door to door approach on families and individuals would make more appeal in terms of education and general management and control of the spread of HIV/AIDS.
There is a need to invest more on poverty reduction to create an enabling environment for self-reliance among families and individuals infected and affected by the impact of HIV/AIDS.”
Without help from the Mocha Club, these people would not get the help they need to live a full and happy life with HIV/AIDS! Join the Mocha Club today!
I was born on 11th November in Githogoro, Kenya, as the third child in a family of five. My parents were both laborers in the coffee estates that surrounded the region.
When I was eight, my mom died from an unknown disease. Due to the family’s economic status, it was not possible to get appropriate medical attention; hence, the diagnosis of the illness that took her life remained unknown. I was class one (grade one), my two elder brothers, Nicholas and Phanuel were in classes three and four, respectively, while the two younger siblings, Freedom and Philip, were in baby class (pre-school) at the time. It was apparent that my parents valued education and took initiative to ensure all of us attended school.
Following mom’s burial, things took a negative twist. Dad bore the sole responsibility of fending for all five of us, which was hardly sufficient to place a single meal on the table. Our family was living on rented premises which made things far more difficult. Basic items such as clothing became a luxury alongside anything else. A day with one meal was considered an extremely good one.
Because of the intensified hardships, my eldest brother, Nicholas, dropped out of school to assist Dad in hustling. The combined effort did not yield sufficient income, so eventually the remaining four of us dropped out of school as well, each turning to the endless search for a meal. There were disappointing times when he came back home empty handed. This got us even more desperate.
Not long after, Dad came home with some news of a high school that was being started in the neighboring Huruma village. Many who had been out of school for years and could not afford the secondary education were interested when it was confirmed that the school was offering free education. This was music to our ears! The only requirement was for students to bring to school a bundle of firewood for cooking of our lunch. I was in high school at New Dawn Educational Centre with no fees required, no school uniform necessary and as if that was not enough, there was free porridge (uji) and the popular beans/corn meal (githeri) provided for lunch. Who would ever resist that? A miracle of miracles!
My experience at New Dawn transformed me totally. I came in hopeless, but I was filled with hope. We found a mom in Mama Irene Tongoi, the school director. She was so assuring that a lot of good would come out of our lives. Mama Irene ensured that we received a holistic education; intellectually as per the curriculum, socially by meaningful and impactful interaction amongst ourselves and the community around, as well as spiritually through the word of God. We had regular devotions and sessions of what was known as ‘vision conferences’. These spiritual forums provided opportunity to be affirmed and assured of God’s love and purpose for our lives. Our confidence was boosted and the sense of hopelessness gradually faded away. Where else would students be treated to good meals and even offered food to carry home for the next meal for the family? We were loved.
To my greatest amazement, upon completion of high school, I topped my class with a grade “B-” and qualified to join public university. And Mama Irene contacted me with grand news: a donor had showed up and was willing to pay the university fees for anyone qualified to join university from our class! God again provided the resources in my time of need.I was enrolled in a five-year degree course at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geomatic Engineering and Geospatial Information Systems (GIS). All this was accomplished with the help of the scholarship.
I appreciate God’s work through the ministry of New Dawn and all the well-wishers who contributed towards the transformed life that has become mine. You did it not only for me but for the many others that have walked along the same path.
“Give me bread today and tomorrow I will ever be at your door knocking, but give me education, the key to life, and you will have transformed the world.”
In a place where there is a high percentage of individuals & families suffering from HIV/Aids, the real suffering occurs when the community turns its back on those in need instead of stepping in to support their own. In the Kibera slum in Kenya, Peter and his staff at HEKO are striving to reverse this problem. In a place where the church should be stepping up to lead & “care for the poor” in this situation, this place that should be one of rescue & restoration is actually virtually useless and detrimental.
Peter and his team conducted a study with the local church to find some answers; these were the results:
The majority of church members have felt the extent of the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
Gossip is the main source of how they know who has the HIV and AIDS.
There is significant loss of membership and tithe/offering returns.
Level of stigma is unbelievably high.
Level of awareness on transmission is very low.
Limited church initiated programmes on care and support.
Use of condoms are highly condemned and this position is non-negotiable.
Screening and testing for HIV is highly opposed.
Churches have not developed any activities or associated plans for the People Living with HIV/AIDS or family households affected by the HIV pandemic.
Church leaders and many parents are not prepared to tackle the issues, except the youths who feel free to share sexual experiences and discuss challenges with each other.
Lack of human material and capital resources including training, capacity building, material acquisition, curriculum development particularly on the sex education for youth, visionary leadership and resources acquisition to care and support OVCs and PLWHAs.
So, there is a vacancy in the space of help & support and Peter and his staff at HEKO are stepping right in. Here are the services they offer:
· Health and Nutrition Education:
General well-being of the person and the value of good balanced diet to PLWHA on ARVs-ART.
· Food Relief and Social Support:
For the support of PLWHA, OVCs and Home Based Care givers for improved livelihood.
· Sports and Recreation:
To help improve good body health and social relationships among different target groups irrespective of status, age, tribe, culture and religious affiliations.
· Economic Empowerment:
To PLWHA, OVCs, Care Givers linked to opportunities for income generating activities.
To PLWHA, OVCs, family household, drug addicts and other risky behaviors and negative lifestyle.
· Life Skills:
Psychosocial skills required in all aspects of young peoples lives that is critical to controlling HIV/AIDS among the youths as well as other aspects of education that highlighted participatory methodologies of the empowerment in all the activities and processes of decision making that concern the youth.
· Discordant Couples:
Special counselling service to couples where only one partner is infected or living HIV positive.
· Alcohol and Drug Abuse:
Small changes can make a big difference in reducing harmful effects and chances of having alcohol-drug related problems among the youth. Drug and substance abuse is linked to the rising crime rate, HIV/AIDS prevalence, schools unrest, family dysfunction, poverty and other malaise in the community. The youths are deliberately and tactfully recruited into the drug culture through personal factor, uncontrolled media influences and other related social exposure.
HEKO’s presence in the community is vital to closing the door on stigmatization, opening the door to community building, and ultimately ending the HIV/Aids pandemic. When you support Mocha Club and it’s healthcare initiatives, you are part of this eradication. Thank you.