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FROM THE FIELD

HIV/AIDS + Healthcare

You’ve got questions, THEY’VE got answers!

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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.”
QIn 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!

AFRICA NEWS, Education, FROM THE FIELD

Hannington’s Story

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 thehannington 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!

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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.”

FROM THE FIELD, HIV/AIDS + Healthcare, Uncategorized

The results are in…

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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.
·       Counselling: 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.

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FROM THE FIELD, MOCHATERNS, Uncategorized

Mochatern Monday 09.19.16 : What is Africa like?

Whenever you travel or experience something new and different, your return home comes with the inevitable onslaught of questions. Boil all those questions down, and everyone is asking essentially the same thing: What was it like? What did life look like there?

This gets at a desire that many of us, especially here at Mocha Club, share: to experience the lives of people who are different from us. What is Africa like? We want to know.

What do you do on a Tuesday morning in urban Kenya? What does Friday night look like in rural Malawi? Is it immensely different from life in America? Is it similar? Whenever it’s me on the receiving end of questions like these, I fumble around for answers, remember we all like showing more than telling, and then stick my iPhone in front of my listeners. This is what driving down the road on a Saturday afternoon in rural Uganda looks like. Cows being herded down the highway. Driving on the left side instead of the right, with innumerable speed bumps when you’re passing through every village. That’s not a baby you hear crying at 0:11 seconds—it’s a goat bleating. Those are the Rwenzori mountains in the distance; you’re heading east. It looks like rain. Of course, this is only a tiny moment—one minute and one second, to be exact. But moments like this can be invaluable to us. We get to step out of our own selves and be someone else for that minute. And when we go back to our own selves, the ones holding a phone or sitting in front of a computer in the United States of America, we find that Africa isn’t so far away after all.

ARTISTS, EVENTS, Uncategorized, Women at Risk

Volunteer with Mocha Club & Matt Wertz!

IMG_5103Mocha Club is heading out on the #GUNSHY tour with Matt Wertz this Fall! And we are looking for volunteers to help out at each show. Help support our friends in Africa by volunteering at the Mocha Club table!

We need 2 people to work the Mocha Club table and Matt’s merch table at each of the concerts listed below.  Would you be available? It will be a fun night sharing about Mocha Club and welcoming new people into our community. We can’t do this without you!

A fun bonus is that Mocha Club table staff get free admission to the concert!


GUNSHY FALL 2016 TOUR

September 14: Bryan, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 15 : Austin, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 16 : Dallas, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 17 : Waco, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 18 : Houston, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 20: Phoenix, AZ // VOLUNTEER!

September 23 : Hollywood, CA // VOLUNTEER!

September 27 : San Francisco, CA // VOLUNTEER!

September 29 : Portland, OR // VOLUNTEER!

September 30 : Seattle, WA // VOLUNTEER!

October 4: Salt Lake City, UT // VOLUNTEER!

October 6 : Denver, CO // VOLUNTEER!

October 8 : Lawrence, KS // VOLUNTEER!

October 9 : St. Louis, MO // VOLUNTEER!

October 19 : Orlando, FL // VOLUNTEER!

October 21: Charlotte, NC // VOLUNTEER!

October 23 : Charlottesville, VA // VOLUNTEER!

October 26 : Washington D.C. // VOLUNTEER!

October 27 : Allston, MA // VOLUNTEER!

October 28: New York City, NY // VOLUNTEER!

October 30 : Philadelphia, PA // VOLUNTEER!

November 10 : Ferndale, MI // VOLUNTEER!

November 11 : Grand Rapids, MI // VOLUNTEER!

November 12 : Chicago, IL // VOLUNTEER!

November 13: Minneapolis, MN // VOLUNTEER!

November 15 : Madison, WI // VOLUNTEER!

November 16 : Indianapolis, IN // VOLUNTEER!

November 17 : Louisville, KY // VOLUNTEER!

December 2 : Atlanta, GA // VOLUNTEER!

December 3 : Birmingham, AL // VOLUNTEER!


We’re looking for people who are…

  • Friendly, passionate, responsible, & organized
  • Able to take initiative in introducing Mocha Club to people
  • At least 18 years old

What Mocha Club table staff will need to do at the concert:

  • Arrive approximately 1 hour before the show to set up the Mocha Club table (instructions will be provided).
  • Explain Mocha Club to people who approach the table before, during, and after the event.
  • Be responsible for Mocha Club table items throughout the show (do not leave table unattended).
  • After concert, answer questions and help people fill out Mocha Club signup form.
  • Safely pack up all items at the end of the show and make sure completed signup forms are Fedex’d to us **no later than the next business day following the concert.**
Education, FROM THE FIELD

Happy Graduation, Denish!

Denish was a promising student in his primary school – receiving high marks and passing all his exams.  The next step should seem simple but for many children in Nairobi, Kenya, the journey ends here.

Denish is one of 9 siblings and for his father, this is quite a household to keep up financially.  Even working in the neardenishby Runda estate of Nairobi does not provide enough, and in this case, not enough for school.  When Denish heard of his passing scores from primary school, he was so excited to share the good news with his family. Unfortunately, the good news fell short when Denish’s father shared that he could not afford the school fees to send his son to school the next year. Denish wept.

The only thing that his father could offer him was encouragement to pray to God and trust that His will be done.

The next school year came and as Denish joined his dad in the labor business, he watched his fellow students from the previous year walk to high school in their new uniforms. Denish felt sad and jealous. But one day he saw something else: bright yellow school uniforms to another high school in the area.  He asked his dad to inquire about this other school and his dad didn’t hesitate.  The following morning, Denish’s dad walked into the office at New Dawn Educational Centre and shared his son’s passing test scores. The staff was impressed and admission for Denish was granted!

Thanks to New Dawn and it’s partners like Mocha Club, Denish was not only able to open space for him to learn but the financial means to take care of his fees.

Today Denish has graduated high school and looks forward to the opportunity to further his education at the university.

“When Jesus say yes, nobody can say no. To this far I have reached, I’ll never be a shamed to say that its all about God, and Glory to Him in the highest.”

FROM THE FIELD, Women at Risk

Women at Risk: Healing From the Inside Out

When thinking about organizations in Africa, you may be thinking, “How are people selected to be in these programs?”

The process of selecting women to be apart of the Women at Risk program is not a quick or easy process. The women are chosen based on their desire to leave the prostitution industry and their desire to leave it in the past. Here is a closer look into the process of how women’s lives are being changed.

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First, social workers visit the women on the streets and in bars during the night, hoping to talk to them and build relationships with them. During the night visits, the social workers look for women who are desiring to leave prostitution and find a way out.

The beautiful thing about this is that the women are met right where they are. In the streets. In the bars. Just as they are. 

The social workers get to know them right where they are and invite them to come to the center for more relationship building. Finally, if the desire to get out of prostitution is authentic, they are invited for a final interview.

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Next, twenty women are accepted into the program and begin structured counseling. Many of the women receive one-on-one counseling to make their rehabilitation a success!

During this counseling, the women are loved on and cared for not just physically, but mentally and spiritually.

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In the final phase of the program, skills training, the women choose a skill to pursue and grow in. Trades include designing and tailoring, food preparation, and hair styling. Eight of the women also chose to start their own businesses and employ themselves. Training in finance was provided for these women, so they can learn the necessary skills to be successful.

One of the most impactful parts of this program is that during the rehabilitation process childcare is provided! In the Nazareth Project in Nazareth Town, Ethiopia, there are 54 children and mothers being cared for. Out of the 54 children, 11 of them are under the age of 4. The children receive day care and participate in a summer camp.

Without the help and care for the children, the mothers would not be capable of going through the full process of the Women at Risk program.

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Women at Risk is not only just for women, but it also helps children receive the loving care they need!

So when you participate in giving to The Mocha Club, you are not only helping women change their lives for the better, but you are helping families become whole again.

#mcjourney2016, Economic Freedom, FROM THE FIELD, Women at Risk

“I know the best is yet to come this is just the beginning.”

Geni has attended the counseling program at Women at Risk and completed it after five months. Currently, she has moved on to the skills program & is using her talents & new-learned skills to move forward to economic freedom.

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Geni chose to take training in tailoring at the center for three months and has shown very good performance in her work. She started sewing different cloths in different styles to sell. Her friends and other people around her in the project encouraged her by buying her products. Fortunately, everyone liked her products and Women at Risk decided to buy her a sewing machine so that she can start a small scale sewing business in order to generate income by her own!

Geni has started her small business in a rental house and is doing well! She has already started saving money. Moreover, Geni’s child moved on to grad one in school with good grades and she is very happy about it.

Geni said “I know the best is yet to come this is just the beginning”. She thanks Ellilta Women At Risk and YOU for renewing her hope.

Support women like Geni

Receive a FREE item from the Mocha Club store when you join!

 

#mcjourney2016, FROM THE FIELD, MERCHANDISE, Uncategorized, Women at Risk

NEW! LIMITED-EDITION : Ethiopia Necklace

The Mocha Club store has a beautifully new addition to it’s inventory : the Ethiopia Necklace.

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Last month, a team from Nashville traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya on the #MCJourney2016. While in the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, the team stopped by to visit our project partners at Women at Risk. These women formerly worked on the streets in desperate circumstances to take care of themselves and their families. Women at Risk came alongside them to provide food, care, and ultimately, a new way of life. One of the opportunities of employment is through jewelry making.

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When you buy the Ethiopia Necklace, you provide counseling & job skills training to a woman in the program. You are also helping to support her family through your purchase.  Made from re-purposed artillery & scrap metal, you can take a piece of Africa with you.

This is a very limited-edition piece with only a few in inventory. Purchase this exclusive piece today and share the story of Mocha Club with a friend.

Get this necklace as a FREE gift when you join the Mocha Club at $18/month!

 

 

FROM THE FIELD, Orphan Care, Uncategorized

Potato, Potahtoh.

Working in a place like the DRC takes patience and vision. Assess the circumstances alone, and you might just leave.

The success of any work relies on building relationship first.  Without a direct connection to and investment in the people at work in Africa, efforts fall short.

IMG_6868Sister Alvera leads the Flame of Love Orphanage.  She has cared for these children for a long time because, while this group of orphans is small, their lives are significant. Last fall, we invested financially in the immediate need for a new dormitory and kitchen.  Construction has concluded.

 

Months back, Sister Alvera and DRC Country Director, Denis championed sustainability efforts IMG_6876and assessed the purchase of farmland to both teach students agricultural skills and grow produce to sell.  Denis and Sister Alvera are determining that this agricultural program could make enough money to significantly reduce the orphanage’s overall operations costs.

Today, the orphanage is growing a potato farm that helps feed the orphans in Sister Alvera’s care!