Matt Wertz has announced his 2017 Fall Tour and we are excited to be joining him!
As always, we are looking for Mocha Club members to volunteer at a show and help share about our friends in Africa asking others to join us in fighting extreme poverty!
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!
We are excited to announce another new Mocha Club artist, Jordy Searcy! This Fall, we will be joining him as he tours around the nation and we are looking for Mocha Club members to volunteer at a show and help share about our friends in Africa asking others to join us in fighting extreme poverty!
We need 2 people to work the Mocha Club 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!
A word from Mocha Club President, Emily Blackledge:
You’ve heard us say it over and over: you can make a difference simply by giving up the cost of a few mochas a month. But we’ll be the first to tell you – there’s no comparison between what you give and what you get.
While your lack of caffeine is temporary, your impact is not. Why? Because Mocha Club is dedicated to making sure your mochas matter long-term. Here’s how:
1. Collaborative Relationships : “We” is our favorite pronoun.
If you have been engaged with an organization or visited some of their work and you only hear “us,” “them,” “theirs,” or “mine,” it is a telling example of a group divided. Without shared values, a common vision and dreams, the work being done belongs to only part of the group. In the long run, these projects and partnerships tend to end poorly. Mocha Club’s strategy is different. Your mochas help provide education for local leaders in the form of a community development course of study — a course co-created by representatives from multiple African countries that takes these leaders through the process of identifying, prioritizing, and addressing community needs. The local community development class in Mvera that proposed the water project we told you about on World Water Day spent months surveying neighbors, friends, family, local businesses, schools, and more to get to a consensus on the greatest need in their area. Not the greatest need for one part of the village or the greatest need to one segment of society or even the greatest need as assessed by Mocha Club – the greatest need for the community as a whole, identified by the community as a whole. A community ceremony was just held to lay the foundation stone for the new water project. Here you see traditional leaders, church leaders, police and the Malawi Defence Force, government officials, and local residents. All turned out to collectively celebrate the beginning of the project. Mvera’s original well was built by missionaries and not owned by the community. This time around, “we” is who owns the project – everyone was involved in naming the need and finding a solution, each household will register to use the water and contribute a monthly fee to pay for upkeep and maintenance, and a local committee will be nominated to oversee the project’s continued success. When Mvera residents are still enjoying clean water decades from now, it’s your mochas that made it so.
2. Meaningful Impact: We know who calls the shots.
And it’s not the group of us sitting in offices here in the United States. One of the reasons Mvera has a water shortage is because it is in a hilly area full of rocks and the water springs dry out during the dry season. The other reason is man made. Mvera is in the Dowa district of Malawi – a district that Leonard, our local Country Director, tells us was “the first district in Malawi created by colonial masters” and means “a place of wild animals.” The well in Mvera was originally dug by missionaries. What was once 36 meters deep and fully functional turned into 7 meters deep and not at all sufficient for the community. Local Malawians didn’t determine its location, they weren’t trained on its upkeep, they weren’t involved at any point of the well’s life cycle. During its research, the community development class in Mvera discovered several potential needs during a social analysis – employment, education, health care. But because they approached the situation from a place of “we,” the community of Mvera determined on its own that the most pressing problem was the water shortage. It makes perfect sense — why would a group of people from a different culture, speaking a different language, be able to determine the best course of action for a community halfway across the world? How would my community know if the next best tool for the Mvera community is a grade school or a water well or a pig farm? Your mochas matter because the people calling the shots are the ones on the ground, the ones that know their communities inside and out.
3. Creative Solutions: We build with what we have.
An accurate understanding of reality is important, but leading with the worst qualities doesn’t really inspire anyone’s participation. We already know that without everyone’s engagement, without “we,” development isn’t sustainable. When strategy is focused on what is working – assets to build on, tools that already exist – you can do things you had no idea could be done. For example, in researching the options for a water solution in Mvera, the local class discovered that they already had much of what they needed – river sand, rocks, quarry stones, manpower, and expertise. They consulted professional builders in the community, engineers, the local electricity supplier, a pipe company, and the local government. Once this project is complete, they’ve already dreamed of building on it and expanding access to more and more people. Building with what you have attracts others (and their talents and resources) to join the dream. Asset-based development makes your mochas matter long into the future.
I am glad to report that the Mvera water project is progressing well. After the laying of the Foundation Stone, people in the community began the work and it has been very successful. Right now the community is mobilizing locally available resources for the construction of the tank (water reservoir). Here are photos showing the laying of the foundation stone and the actual work beginning. – Leonard Chipangano, Malawi Country Director
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.