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INSPIRATION

ARTISTS, EVENTS, INSPIRATION, Women at Risk

An Evening with Matt Wertz (and Mocha Club!)

matt wertz

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!


FALL 2017 TOUR

September 8: Atlanta, GA // VOLUNTEER!

September 9 : Nashville, TN // VOLUNTEER!

September 20 : San Antonio, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 21 : Dallas, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 22 : Houston, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 23 : Austin, TX // VOLUNTEER!

October 18: Indianapolis, IN // VOLUNTEER!

October 19 : Ann Arbor, MI // VOLUNTEER!

October 20 : Evanston, IL // VOLUNTEER!

October 22: Minneapolis, MN // VOLUNTEER!

November 1 : Denver, CO // VOLUNTEER!

November 2 : Los Angeles, CA // VOLUNTEER!

November 3 : San Francisco, CA // VOLUNTEER!

November 4: Portland, OR // VOLUNTEER!

November 5 : Seattle, WA // VOLUNTEER!

November 16 : Vienna, VA // VOLUNTEER!

November 17 : Cambridge, MA // VOLUNTEER!

November 19 : New York, NY // 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.**
AFRICA NEWS, FROM THE FIELD, INSPIRATION

Update from Adjumani Refugee Camp

 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?

JOIN MOCHA CLUB

Join Mocha Club today, and as a “thank you”, we will send you a free item from our store!
AFRICA NEWS, FROM THE FIELD, INSPIRATION

Your mochas matter in South Sudan

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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.

AFRICA NEWS, Clean Water, FROM THE FIELD, I NEED AFRICA, INSPIRATION, Uncategorized

Your mochas can become clean water.

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 5dffe47c3570533b449d773d_372x560Mvera’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!


 

INSPIRATION, MOCHATERNS, PERSPECTIVES, Uncategorized

Mochatern Monday 12.19.16 : Fare Thee Well

It’s been almost 4 months since I tried to enter the back door of Mocha Club and eventually found the front door of our lovely office. I drove 8 hours the day before from Virginia and all of my belongings for the next 4 months still filled my car. I walked into the office and began. As it often does, the time rushed past and now I have about a week left in Nashville. As I think back on these months spent in the South, I consider what I learned.

I learned a lot of things, but the most important one that will affect my work and life is about how to relate to other people. I deeply respect the way that Mocha Club staff members operate by working closely with African leaders. They make these leaders’ dreams their own and work with them toward their goals with a posture of humility and respect. I could go on about the many other things I learned through being here day to day, or talk about how every person at the office showed me kindness and included me, but that might make for a long post. So I’ll stop here and just say that as I pack my bags, I will be taking more with me than when I came—things that I cannot pack in my car, lessons that will stay with me all of my life.

I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote based on a quote by one of our partners in Africa. May you be blessed and spread the blessing.

 

But Then

“The name of that place is actually Tumbe . . ., which means a place for rejected people, but God spoke to us and told us these people are not rejected, they should not be called rejected, they should not live with the name of rejection, so we said we are going to call this place Blessed Camp.” –Peter O O’chiel (Action Ministry)

The first word of the first Psalm

In my English Bible reads “blessed.”

A foundation of identity, something I

Have always been without knowing.

Ignorance is hard to shake

But it is not the kind of knowledge we

Think we need that will save us.

We think we are damned—

And we’re right, sort of.

We think we are unworthy—

And there is a hint of reality in that bitter delusion.

We think we are rejected—

And we could not be further (and nearer) to the truth.

We are only these things before.

We are only these things without.

We are only these things outside.

But then Love.

INSPIRATION, MOCHATERNS, PERSPECTIVES, Uncategorized

I Want You . . . To Care About Economics

Economics is not my thing, not my strong point, quite frankly not my delight. Among all the subjects I studied in school, that one fit least well into the mold of my particular brain. I struggled to grasp the concepts presented during the last semester of my senior year of high school. I never took an Econ class in college, but I cracked open a book the other day and all things economics tumbled out: statistics and terms that I don’t use on a regular basis in my own financial context. Although I struggled to make sense of what the author conveyed at times,, I ultimately came away from the book as a grateful reader. Hang with me through the next few paragraphs and I’ll explain why.

Dambisa Moya wrote this book, titled Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa, because she tired of seeing her native continent inundated in money that brought harm rather than betterment. (To clarify, the aid she mentions has little to do with international nongovernmental organizational (INGO) work. She refers to governments (generally Western) dumping funds on African governments.) Even if you’re not a “numbers person” this statistic might shock you: “Since the 1940s, approximately US$1 trillion of aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. This is nearly US$1,000 for every man, woman and child on the planet today” (pg 35). That’s 1,000,000,000,000 dollars. Twelve zeros. Wow.

Moya explains the situation by giving a brief history of aid and then explaining why aid has not achieved the goals it set out to accomplish. In a section titled “The vicious cycle of aid,” she enlightens the reader about how this happens:

Foreign aid props up corrupt governments – providing them with freely usable cash. These corrupt governments interfere with the rule of law, the establishment of transparent civil institutions and the protection of civil liberties, making both domestic and foreign investment in poor countries unattractive. Greater opacity and fewer investments reduce economic growth, which leads to fewer job opportunities and increasing poverty levels. In response to growing poverty, donors give more aid, which continues the downward spiral of poverty (pg 49).

Whew! If you’re anything like me, this sounds a little overwhelming. Thankfully, Moya doesn’t stop here. She gives more details about this corruption and its relationship to aid. Then she turns to providing alternatives for African countries: issuing bonds, finding investors, obtaining a credit rating, borrowing from institutions other than the World Bank in part to build credibility, and trading with other countries inside and outside the African continent. Moya spends a good amount of pages on current Chinese investment in Africa (which I found to be very interesting).

Ultimately, her recommendation is to cut out aid incrementally over a five year period until a country no longer receives any. She says that the general population of Africa won’t suffer as much as the reader might think because so much of the aid money is going to a small number of powerful people in African government positions anyway. If donor countries cut aid, African governments will be forced to stand on their own two feet and find ways to replace that money through the suggestions listed above.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, you’re reading this on Mocha Club’s blog, so chances are that you care about Africa and its people. If you truly care about something, you generally invest time, money, or some other element of life into it. I’m not about to suggest that we all need to be economic scholars in order to care about Africa. But what I am suggesting is that education is important. If you care about something and want to see change, educate yourself about that issue. Start by reading one news article per day or following organizations you care about on social media.

Even though I’m not a huge economics fan, this discipline is integral to international development, so it’s worth my time to invest in learning a little bit about it. Take the plunge, friends: Pick up that book, scroll through that article, ask a friend about their life experience. You never know; economics might just be your thing.

INSPIRATION, MOCHATERNS

Better when we’re together.

storyhouse-jpg

82 degrees. It’s fall in Nashville, and the leaves are letting go and falling to be crunched under our boots, but the temperature doesn’t know it yet. We’re fine with that, though, because today we’re putting on a house show, and we’ll trade cold fingers and toes for a light breeze.

We arrive at 4:30; doors won’t open until 6:30. We spread twinkle lights around the back porch, spread a rug, and call it a stage. The sound guys arrive at 5, with a minivan full of equipment. We set up borrowed tables, spread someone else’s tablecloths, put out the snacks we bought at Kroger last night, hoping-praying we’d be reimbursed soon. We spread blankets gathered from three different houses as the bands run through soundcheck. Friends and friends of friends begin to come in the back gate just as they’re finishing, and we turn on the collaborative Spotify playlist.

This is what being a college student in Nashville looks like: concerts in the backyards of our houses, nights where everything we need is borrowed. Everything pauses when the band starts to play. For a few hours we sit and listen, marveling at the talent of the friends who perform and the good hearts of the ones who welcome us in. And then the concert is over, we pack up all the things, and a few of us head to Cookout for milkshakes and french fries. Homework is ignored, but so much good work is done.

Nights like this remind me of something that I hope I’ll remember long after I graduate: sometimes, it only works if we all work together. And isn’t that half the fun? Isn’t it even better if the ground is covered in blankets you don’t own and the seven strands of string lights come from four different people? When the after-concert Cookout party consists of the bands, the photographer, the hosts, the ones who donated time and apple cider and the rug for the stage, and the friends who just came to support?

When we look at our lives, aren’t the sweetest moments the ones we worked for together?

Speaking of Nashville nights…Come to The Well at Green Hills on Friday, November 11 at 7pm to enjoy a night of stories and songs in support of Mocha Club, much like the night I just wrote about, and hear the artist pictured above + some more great songwriters & storytellers! 

https://www.facebook.com/chrisrenzemamusic/

http://www.randwalter.com

https://www.facebook.com/marsongs/?fref=ts

INSPIRATION, MOCHATERNS

“They Do This,” But We Don’t Have to Do That

The People of the Other Village

hate the people of this village

and would nail our hats

to our heads for refusing in their presence to remove them

or staple our hands to our foreheads

for refusing to salute them

if we did not hurt them first: mail them packages of rats,

mix their flour at night with broken glass.

We do this, they do that.

They peel the larynx from one of our brothers’ throats.

We devein one of their sisters.

The quicksand pits they built were good.

Our amputation teams were better.

We trained some birds to steal their wheat.

They sent to us exploding ambassadors of peace.

They do this, we do that.

We canceled our sheep imports.

They no longer bought our blankets.

We mocked their greatest poet

and when that had no effect

we parodied the way they dance

which did cause pain, so they, in turn, said our God

was leprous, hairless.

We do this, they do that.

Ten thousand (10,000) years, ten thousand

(10,000) brutal, beautiful years.

_____

Part of me doesn’t even want to write anything about this poem by Thomas Lux because I want it to settle on the reader and get minds whirring on their own. But I will share a few thoughts since this is, after all, a blog and not a “share a poem” newsfeed.

I came across this poem in college and it moved me deeply. It cuts through so many excuses humans make for how we treat each other. This poem was written as a war protest poem and could easily lead to a discussion about that topic, but instead I want to look at how the poem calls out a mentality that many of us have but choose to stifle or ignore. How easy it is for us to live our days trading tit for tat with our enemies. How easy it is to say, “They started it.” How easy it is to retaliate because we do not want to look weak. Extending grace and forgiveness is an act of moral strength, not weakness. “They do this,” but we don’t have to do that.

Consider the many facets of your life. Where do you contribute to brutality? Most likely you aren’t putting shards of glass in your enemies’ flour bags, but where are your words stinging someone’s heart? Where are you putting yourself and your selfish reactions first? I ask this not to guilt trip anyone. There is always grace! I ask this because politicians can do great good, but they cannot create world peace through charters and laws (though we need them). We, the masses, have a role in creating peace, too.

There are at least two kinds of steps that we need to take to bring more healing into this world. First, take steps of reconciliation to close the gap between you and the person you hate or dislike. Second, take steps to close the gap between you and someone with a different type of need. Helping another person is not a matter of the “haves” and “have nots,” though it is tempting to think of the situation in this framework if you view yourself as the one with more power. (Yes, one group might have more of one monetary or spiritual asset, but the point is that we all lack in some capacity.) Instead, see yourself as an equal partner. You might have a little bit of money and someone else might have a way of life marked by joy. Give and receive. Make the next year or ten thousand more beautiful than brutal. “They do this,” but we don’t have to do that.

 

*Poem found at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/48485

**Thoughts in this post influenced by When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert and this Mocha Club video.

INSPIRATION, MOCHATERNS

Mochatern Monday 10.10.16 : The Day of Small Things

It’s the way the sunlight drapes itself over the tops of the bushes in front of the office. The way the little chipmunk just scurried by. It’s hidden in plain sight: the sun rose this morning, maybe when you weren’t looking at its brilliant artistic talent strewn across the sky.

Did you see it?

That brief moment where something happened? There it is again . . .

Writing 35 thank you cards this week to some generous Mocha Club donors reminded me of how important it is to be aware of these moments. The task consumed time and wasn’t the most brain stimulating exercise. But it was worth my time and focus. Why can I say that? First off, who doesn’t love receiving a hand addressed envelope in the mail? Maybe just getting a letter gave someone that happy feeling when they wonder what’s inside. (If you’ve never felt that feeling, you need to get a pen pal ASAP.) Hopefully the letter reminded them that they are appreciated – that what they do has a positive impact on the world. How lovely that I got to be a part of bringing that thought to someone’s mind!

Here’s the point of this little ramble: Celebrate “the day of small things.” (Hint: that’s every day.) Some days just don’t feel fun or exciting or joyful or enjoyable. I get it; I live this human life, too. But muster the courage to find a window, look out, and consider whether there is something there worth noticing. Whether it’s your friend down the street, raindrops on the windowpane, or the tree branches dancing in the wind, there is something to inspire gratitude. And if your office or classroom doesn’t have a window, I’m sorry (I’ve been there too), but I’d bet that you can find something good in the article you’re reading, the décor in your officemate’s cubicle, or in the lines of the paper you’re writing for that college class.

Here at the Mocha Club, we’re all about everyday generosity. It starts with a small gift that gets transformed into food for an orphan, medicine for some who is sick, clean water, etc. Never believe the lie that a small gift of time, money, or energy cannot bring meaningful beauty into someone’s life. Here’s to the day of small things, to discovering joy in the mundane.

*For some inspiration, check out Alli Rogers’ song, “The Day of Small Things.

I NEED AFRICA, INSPIRATION, MOCHATERNS

Mochatern Monday 09.12.16: “Sit, sit and watch for a bit. Listen, listen a while before you speak.”

This summer, I went to a faraway place. The dirt covers your feet there, the mountains loom large and the children shout “mzungu!” (white person) as you pass. I went to Bundibugyo, a small town in rural western Uganda, and it did not leave me where it found me.

While in Bundibugyo, I learned to say about forty words in Lubwisi, the local language. I learned to say hello, goodbye, and thank you. I could say chicken, cow, and goat. I was a far cry from any sort of real conversation. I learned to buy chapati (a tortilla-flatbread-pancake sort of thing) from the lady chapati maker on the corner, though I too often forgot to greet her before placing my order. I learned my way around the market, through stalls of cabbage, tomatoes, fish, beans, and rice, always struggling to figure out how Ugandan shillings worked in my American-dollar brain. Though I was welcomed and loved by both the community I lived in and the organization I joined, as I drove eastward to the Entebbe airport on my way out of the country in late July, I knew I’d barely scraped the surface.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 1.35.09 PM

 

I think this gets at one of the biggest things I realized, in those weeks in Uganda: the immense length of time it would take to really become a part of the community. You can’t simply pop over the Rwenzori Mountains from Fort Portal and start enchanting all the locals with your enthusiasm, your willingness to help, or your care for children or elderly people or pregnant women. No, it takes a bit more than that. Because even if you’ve got the Lubwisi down, you’ve got an accent too; and do you really know the culture yet? Do you know why western Uganda is the way it is? Do you fully appreciate all the nuances of life there? And let’s not forget you’re a Mzungu, a white person from a place very far away. Sit, sit and watch for a bit. Listen, listen a while before you speak.

This lesson is one that has served me well, even after returning to America, and into my internship here at Mocha Club. Much of the work that Mocha Club supports is done in places like Bundibugyo, places where joy and brokenness and sorrow and gladness live side by side. The Home Again Children’s Home, for instance, a ministry supported by Mocha Club that provides a home for over 70 children, is in Kaihura, Ugandaa town I drove right through on my journey back to America. These are places with need, but they are not places devoid of of histories, of traditions, of language, or of people who love them. The joy for us comes when we listen, when we wait, and when we join in the work that is already being done.

That’s the real privilege, isn’t it? Even here in the States, somewhere around 8,000 miles from a place like East Africa, we who are a part of the Mocha Club get to join in this work. We get to go to shows, contribute a few dollars a month, see photos, and hear stories of the work already begunwith, not for or around or in spite of, the people in places like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda. We join in. And maybe that’s all way more humbling than we expectedbut oh, see how much better it all is, and watch how much we learn.