We’ve loved watching people get outside of their comfort zone to make a difference with the Purpose Project. Each project is about an apprehensive ambition — that thing you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had a reason or the courage to do so. By adding some purpose & raising money for people in Africa, your goal becomes a little less about you and more about doing something big & fun with your community. It’s been fun to share Carly’s Tattoo Project, Brittany’s Pink Project, and Lena’s Plunge Project! And up next… Kate’s Ubuntu Project — our first GROUP Purpose Project!
My name is Kate Woodward and this past year was my first year of college at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. All of high school I had been really involved in community service, but hadn’t really figured out how that would fit into my life in college until I joined a newly formed organization called the Belmont Community Leaders during my second semester. Essentially, I was signing up to help plan service projects and get other college students involved with local charitable organizations. Little did I know, this group would become my opportunity to get thrown into something much bigger than myself, finally helping me figure out where community service fit into my life in college.
Enter: Purpose Project.
I’ve been a member of The Mocha Club since 2011, but became more and more interested and invested in it this past semester. When I heard that they were launching Purpose Project and had hopes of getting college campuses to embrace the idea, I couldn’t have been more excited about the idea of getting to try it out first. This little bubble of excitement just started expanding inside of me until I felt like I would explode if I couldn’t do something about it. By some act of God, not even a week after I’d heard about Purpose Project, I all of a sudden had a stage for this new experiment when our group leader told us that we had the remaining month of school to plan, organize, and carry out a service project.
I came into this club a freshman, joining with upper classmen that I assumed would probably lead the projects. However, when our group met to discuss our project, I couldn’t start talking fast enough, and, to my surprise, I was met with intent listeners. I suggested that our group of seven girls rally our efforts to try and raise money for a cause we all felt passionate about and the idea was quickly accepted and our plans began to roll into action. We felt that as college students, we were being given a great privilege to expand our education, and decided that with that privilege came a responsibility for us to give other kids some of the same opportunities that had led us to where we were.
Because there were so many of us, we were sure that raising money would be easy. We set the highest Purpose Project goal thus far and decided we’d work to raise $2,400 to pay for the education of four African students for a year. In addition, we wanted to set a radical follow-through for this goal; something to show people we meant business. We decided we wanted to not only raise the money, but also understand what the lives were like for the students we were helping, so we promised to live on $1.50 per day for a week once we reached our goal. Go big or go home, right?
We chose the name “Ubuntu” for our project as a sort of symbol for what we were doing. Seven of us were getting involved in something huge, something none of us could do alone. Ubuntu means “I am what I am because of who we all are,” commonly used in Africa, and we felt that this was the perfect description of our group’s efforts.
I had initially thought that the most humbling part of this project would be living on $1.50 per day, but I was given a reality check as soon as we started fundraising. One of the biggest hurdles we had to tackle was the fact that we were trying to fundraise on a college campus, where most of our peers are about as reluctant to give up their money as a zebra is to give up its stripes. Long story short, we worked so hard to earn our funds that we could probably outdo one of the best car salesmen at a sales pitch.
(We documented both our month of fundraising & our week living below the line here.)
However, this is not to say people were unsupportive. After each fundraising event we did, we would be so moved and proud of our incredible friends, family, and team members for the amount of love and support that they offered us — whether in the form of money or encouraging words — that we would have to just sit in shock discussing what we had witnessed. I will admit that there were times I was afraid that we wouldn’t reach our goal, and towards the end I was almost convinced that we wouldn’t, but somehow we pulled through and were able to cross the finish line of our goal with our heads, hearts, and arms held high in triumph and pride.
We did a bake sale on campus and a percent night at a local ice cream shop to all go towards our fundraising goal.
Our end goal was to raise money to send four African students to school, and then to try and understand what it’s like to live the way that they do. If there’s anything I learned, it’s that we will never entirely understand what their lives are like unless we were to drop everything we have here and move to Africa to live in their shoes. However, one thing I can say that I understand 100% is that those children deserve every bit of effort we put into the project, their educations, and so much more.
“living below the line” = lots of bean & rice!!
at the New Dawn school in Kenya, the breakfast & lunch the kids receive (lots of beans & rice!) is often the only food they’ll get that day
We stood at the end of our project humbly offering four educations, but wishing we could offer the world. We reached the finish line of our project, but I believe that at the same time we were just beginning a much bigger project. It is my hope that anyone reading this will become a part of that project by starting his or her own Purpose Project. It truly is life changing.
Thanks Kate! Have your own idea? Submit them here or email info(at)themochaclub.org… we’d love to help!