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PERSPECTIVES

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.

MOCHATERNS, PERSPECTIVES

Mochatern Monday 12.05.16: So why the Mocha Club?

 

I’ve asked this question to a number of my colleagues here at Mocha since beginning my internship three months ago. What brought you to this organization? Why this nonprofit, rather than another? Why work at a nonprofit at all? I’ve phrased the question in different ways each time, but really there’s one thing I want to know: tell me, how passionate are you about what you do? How invested are you in Mocha’s vision? screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-1-38-10-pm

If you’re anything like me, you tend to approach nonprofits with a critical eye. There are many pitfalls that go along with aid work in developing countries, particularly when that work is cross-cultural in nature. (I’ll point you, not for the first time, to books like When Helping Hurts and documentaries such as Poverty, Inc because they’ve been so helpful to me in understanding such challenges.) Doing work that is truly good, helpful, and sustainable is never easy. So when I think about the initiatives I want to support, both financially and with my time, I tend to start with a bit of cynicism, and I ask a lot of questions.

An internship is, by nature, rather like just skimming the surface of an organization. So during my time here at the Mocha Club, I’ve tried to ask questions, to dive deeper. I keep asking: why are you here? Why work at a place like the Mocha Club? 

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-1-39-21-pmAnd you know what? My coworkers really believe in the work that the Mocha Club is doing. They keep looking back at me with excited eyes and telling me about what they love most. One talks about Mocha Club’s work with our artist partners, and how beautiful it is to work hand-in-hand and face-to-face with artists to unite their musical pursuits with the opportunity to support a good cause. Some talk about how the transparency of the organization makes it easy to see where your donations go; others speak on how much they believe in the value of the pastor training, orphan care, and the other projects that Mocha Club supports in Africa. I’ve had many conversations about the challenges of working cross-culturally—with, not for, the poor—and more than one coworker has voiced the importance of listening and of humility.

Forgive me if this all sounds like a pitch. Because here’s the thing: my internship with this lovely group of people is about to conclude—in fact, this is my last post on this blog. And this is what I’d love to leave you with. Believe in the good heart, the effectiveness, and the humility of the work that Mocha Club is doing in Africa. Believe in the people that send you emails, invite you to support new initiatives, and answer the phone when you call the office. When you join the Club, you’re joining a pretty special thing.

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.

#mcjourney2016, AFRICA TRIPS, FROM THE FIELD, INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES

Overcoming our circumstances

Driving through the urban areas of Ethiopia, rain is flooding the streets. Houses are made of mud and straw, there is little shelter, and the water runs into homes and businesses as they try to salvage what they can, hanging items on clothes lines and stacking on their shoulders and heads. I can’t help but to think about the struggle in that! Who knows how long it will rain, everything is soaking wet, once it is finished, they have to re-patch walls, hang up clothes to dry, and find a way to make up for the time their business was slow due to people taking shelter.

IMG_4393We allow our odds to define us, to tell us how we should feel, and how our actions will look. When one thing goes against our will, against our plan, interrupts our day or our lives, even if everything else is going our way, our moods change. A scowl forms, and we no longer feel a sense of joy. We lack understanding, want immediate answers, and refuse to look up until we do.

An Ethiopian woman is walking across the rock covered railroad in the rain with no shoes, sopping wet, but is grateful for rain water to clean herself off with when she reaches her destination. An Ethiopian man is ankle high in mud in the fields, praising God for the rain in order for his crops to grow. The Ethiopian Shepherd has a smile on his face as his flock now has water to drink from which provides energy to keep moving. And the Ethiopian children are splashing in the rain puddles, covered in mud and all you see and hear is a vibrant smile and innocent laughter. Where we see odds, others see blessings.

Written by: Brittany Mullins from Beneath The Skin

MOCHATERNS, PERSPECTIVES, Uncategorized

Make your Summer Count.

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My spring here at Mocha Club has been such an enjoyable and valuable experience. I have grown as a person through what I have learned both through action and observation.

  I have grown in both confidence and understanding through this internship, and I am constantly learning. Each task has offered me lessons in persistence, patience, creativity, and balance. I get as much out of tagging scarves and typing names and addresses into Excel documents as I do when I write Mochatern Monday posts or craft pictures for social media. Everything I have done has been made better by the thought of how my duties are contributing to a larger, beautiful, giving picture.

  I have learned so much from the Mocha Club team- what it means to spend one’s life in service to others, what it means to care for people so very removed from our personal world, what it means to love people because they are people. There is something about these people that I don’t think you can find everywhere. Humility. Dedication. Faith. The belief that what they are doing really matters. The continual knowledge that people need them. It’s a beautiful way in which they live.

Intern at the Mocha Club!

 

INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES

Be Inspired : Robby with Robby Klein Photography

Our team at Mocha Club loves working and living in Nashville, Tennessee – a place known for it’s community and the inspiration from it’s members. These individuals are the best in their craft and we want to share them with you!  This blog series features locals that inspire us through their unique/beautiful/innovative…we could go on and on..approach to life, business and community.  We love their businesses and  want to showcase them in this new series – where simply,  we want to inspire others by what inspires us.

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Robby Klein :: Robby Klein Photography

1.     What motivated you to start your business and how has it grown since it began?

I grew up drawing and painting, my mom was an art teacher. Art had always been around me and part of my life. When I was 13 I stumbled upon a  very dinky digital camera, maybe a quarter of a megapixel in resolution. Although I never figured out how to take the photos off of the camera, I’ just delete them and keep shooting, I was hooked! Not long after I got a plastic film camera from Walgreens and started shooting film for the next year or so until I got a 1 megapixel canon digital elph for christmas one year. 

My story and evolution as a photographer continues in this smooth natural trend. The older I got the more I would learn and the more I lobed to shoot! In high school I realized I could make money shooting bands and my senior friends and soon after started into the world of editorial, shooting for magazines. My business grew up with me and again very naturally became a sustainable business. Everything changed when my wife and I moved to Nashville, that’s when things got real and I saw the most growth at the fastest rate!

2.     How has the Nashville community embraced your business?

Nashville has been wonderful! I took meetings my fist week in town and still to this day shoot for clients I met with that first week. I’ve also met photographers, much more seasoned than I, who have taken interest in me and given me more wisdom and guidance in how this works than I could have ever asked for! 

3.     Is there any way that your business has given back, to the community or in some other way?

I have tried to give back the knowledge and time that those seasoned photographers gave to me. I like to help young photographers and try and set them on the right path. 

4.     What is special about the way you shoot and why do you do it this way?

I like my shoots to be fun #1 and secondly I want them to be personal, I want my subjects personality to really shine through! For me if it isn’t fun then there is no point in doing it! I Shoot because it’s fun to me, I thoroughly enjoy it and I want people on set to feel that and join in!

5.     Where does all of your experience and knowledge of photography come from?

I have had people in my life that have graciously given their time to teach me this and that and give me advice and honest critiques on my work! That played a big part in it! After that it’s trial and error. I shoot ALL THE TIME! If I don’t have a job one weekend I’m grabbing an artist buddy and shooting him for fun and also to try new things. It’s pretty much practice for my client gigs. Always stay sharp and keep learning! 

ARTISTS, Member Spotlight, MOCHATERNS, PERSPECTIVES

Full Circle

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  I absolutely LOVE the nonprofit Mocha Club and everything they stand for. I first heard about Mocha Club ages ago at a Matt Wertz concert… My freshman year of college, the fall of ’08, a few of my friends and I roadtripped from Athens, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee to see Matt Wertz in concert. It was so fun- he always puts on an amazing show! He spoke about Mocha Club and what it meant to him during intermission, and I knew I just had to join.

  Fast forward to that summer. I was back home in Nashville and wanted to get an internship and give back to my community… so where did I land? At Mocha Club, of course! I was a part of that very first intern group, and it was a complete blast. To this day I will never forget one of the first things I did at Mocha Club… I was in a room with Barrett Ward, founder of Mocha Club and FashionABLE, and he wanted to narrow down the project areas and clarify their focus. So we sat there, discussed, prayed, and finalized the maybe 6-7 project areas down to the 5 that still remain today. It was such a great moment, and I felt so humbled to be included in that lasting decision. Hearing his heart behind each one of the projects was moving and made me even more impassioned for their cause.

  As an intern at Mocha Club, we created the Campus Rep program. So, naturally, as I transitioned back to campus life at the University of Georgia, I also became one of the first campus reps. I set up booths all over the place and championed Mocha Club’s message. I spoke a fraternity and sorority chapter meetings, and even had a leadership team. At the first ever Mocha Club meeting, my boyfriend of just a week at the time (now husband), was the only male to attend. (When I learned that he was already a Mocha Club member, joining at a Micah Dalton concert around the same time I joined, I just knew he was a winner!)

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We recently got to volunteer with Mocha Club at a Dave Barnes + Matt Wertz concert in Atlanta, where we now call home. It was a complete full circle moment for us. We were crazy and signed up knowing we would have a 6-week old baby at home. We were exhausted, but oh so thankful to continue to partner with Mocha Club. Thank you to those of you who give to Mocha Club- know that your dollars are well spent: jobs are created, bellies are filled, thirst is quenched, and love is shared.

Written by: Caroline Fausel

**Interested in volunteering with the Mocha Club? Email info@themochaclub.org!

INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES

Be Inspired: Stephen Rose with The Peach Truck

Our team at Mocha Club loves working and living in Nashville, Tennessee – a place known for its community and the inspiration from its members. These individuals are the best in their craft and we want to share them with you!  This blog series features locals that inspire us through their unique/beautiful/innovative…we could go on and on..approach to life, business and community.  We love their businesses and  want to showcase them in this new series – where simply,  we want to inspire others by what inspires us.

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Stephen Rose :: The Peach Truck

What motivated you to start your business, and how has it grown since it began?

The Peach Truck was started out of a natural problem. I grew up in Peach County, GA, which is where Georgia Peaches are grown. That meant eating fresh peaches right off the tree every summer. Moving to Nashville, I figured we’d have some good peach options during the summer being just a state away. That wasn’t the case at all. I needed to figure out how to get my hometown’s peaches to Nashville. It started as a small side business my wife and I ran, and has now grown to 50 employees during the summer. The vision hasn’t changed, though. Get Fresh Georgia Peaches to people right off the tree, and create an incredible experience while doing so.

How has the Nashville community embraced your business?

I couldn’t imagine a more welcoming community to start a business. From the chefs who put us on their menu, to the shop owners who allow us to set up, to the community who supports us by buying our peaches, it’s been a remarkable experience. Nashville wrapped its arms around us from the beginning. We couldn’t be more grateful.

Is there any way that your business has given back, to the community or in some other way?

We work with a couple food banks in Nashville to make sure that our peaches get to folks who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them. It’s hard to believe, but our town has areas that are literal food deserts, with no access to fresh produce. To be able to donate our top quality peaches to people who don’t have access to fruits and vegetables the way most of us do is an incredible honor.

What is special about the way you sell peaches and how it brings community together?

We always strive to create a memorable experience. Everyone who works with us does so because the believe in what we do and they’re passionate about our product. We’re always collaborating with restaurants and companies around town that we align with. Everything we do strives to celebrate summer and what it means to so many. We hope when people think about summer in Nashville, they think about The Peach Truck.

Where does all of your peaches come from and why do you buy from them?

We are the Nashville arm of Pearson Farm. I’ve known the family that runs the farm my entire life, and we developed the idea of The Peach Truck together. For them, they wanted someone who would treat their peaches the same way they do. It’s almost tragic that they can prune the trees perfectly, thin the peaches perfectly, pick them at the perfect time, and a grocery store who gets them holds on to them for too long and they develop that mealy taste grocery store peaches are known for. It’s much too hard of work to let that happen. We make sure our customers get the peaches within a couple of days of being picked, which is a logistical nightmare, but it’s the only way for people to taste the same peach I did when I was growing up. It’s truly a match made in heaven.

Clean Water, INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES, Uncategorized

Be Inspired : Mark, author of Zen Pig

Our team at Mocha Club loves working and living in Nashville, Tennessee – a place known for it’s community and the inspiration from it’s members. These individuals are the best in their craft and we want to share them with you!  This blog series features locals that inspire us through their unique/beautiful/innovative…we could go on and on..approach to life, business and community.  We love their businesses and  want to showcase them in this new series – where simply,  we want to inspire others by what inspires us.

Zen Pig Love w: Stanza

What motivated you to start your book, and how has it grown since it began?

When my wife and I had our first child, Noble, I wanted desperately to guide him away from many of the mistakes I’d made and toward virtues like gratitude, mindfulness, and compassion – ideas and practices that have changed my life radically for the better. But once I was submerged in children’s media (like all parents eventually are), there wasn’t really anything I could present to him that nurtured those seeds.  So much of children’s media revolves around being a prince, or a princess, living in a castle, or being in a mystical land, there’s definitely a place for that, it’s not a knock.  But “Zen Pig” is here to show kids that you don’t have to be a princess, or a prince, or live in a castle to be happy; and that you don’t have to escape to a fairy tale land – there is infinite beauty and wonder to discover in THIS world in THIS moment.

How has the Nashville community embraced your business?

I want to be completely clear about this, I am utterly blown away, honored, and humbled by how much support Nashville has given the “Zen Pig” series and myself.  Local residents and retailers are the reason “Zen Pig” is still here and it’s success is all theirs.

What’s the story behind the name, “Zen Pig”?

The title of the series, and name of the main character is simply a testament to the philosophy it teaches and the result of mindful living; peace, serenity, and resilient happiness.

What is unique about your books, and what inspires them?

There is no deficit of children’s books, that’s for sure.  But I think “Zen Pig” has begun to stand out due to it’s focus on ideals that all parents wish for their children, minimalist design, and very specific philanthropic cause which teaches children the joy of giving.  Also, people seem to really enjoy the way the books feel, which I think is funny because I said the same thing when I received my first copy for approval!

Tell us about the good you are doing and your partnerships with local missions?

All the good that is manifesting from “Zen Pig” is 100% because of the readers and retailers, not me.  Releasing less than 5 months ago, THEY have already provided over 8000 people clean water for 1 year…it’s unbelievable.  I could not be more grateful – truly.  African Leadership and Mocha Club has been such a tremendous partner in all of this.  The difference between this non-profit and the many of the others we had considered partnering with is astounding.  They have provided transparency, support, and incredible kindness!

 

**Give to clean water now and buy Zen Pig at http://www.ZenPigBook.com!

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HIV/AIDS + Healthcare, PERSPECTIVES, Uncategorized

“…From being frustrated and broken to inspired and powerful.”

Wondering what you are supporting when you support the Mocha Club and its mission?

You help support the HEKO program, a program for mostly women who are suffering from HIV/Aids. Through this program, they receive counseling and nutrition education on how to take care of themselves with this disease.

Here is the story of one member of the HEKO program that has been impacted in a meaningful way through YOUR support!

Dorcas Atieno Oluoch was 44 years old when she began herdorcas new life as a single parent of six after being stigmatized and discriminated by her husband upon learning of her positive HIV status. Soon after, he abandoned her and the children and moved in with another woman.

When Dorcas joined the program after learning about it from an awareness workshop organized by HEKO through elder Peter Odero and his wife Monica, she instantly felt encouraged. The program helped her change her life and make a positive change for herself and her children. She moved from being frustrated and broken to inspired and powerful.

At HEKO, she says she learned the importance of good nutrition and how to manage stigma and discrimination. She was also trained in micro-business finance for self sustainability.

She later formed a group at Kiberia DOs office and became a leader for the community. Today Dorcas lives a normal life with her children and volunteers in her community with social health work.

Thank you to everyone who supports the healthcare efforts of our organization at HEKO.

By joining Mocha Club, you too can change the life of a person just like Dorcas!