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The Power of Yes

As Mocha Club President, Emily Blackledge is constantly on the move meeting with leaders, pastors, donors, and friends of our organization — those that want to learn more about life in Africa, how we are involved & how, as a community, we get to work together to make an impact in this world. After several encouraging and inspiring conversations last week, she shared with us her musings of what she wants this “work” to be about…

I want to expand the margins and boundaries we build around us. I no longer want to fight against something…but for something. I want my life to be about the positive – the propelling movement into the future, not the raging battle against the negative. I believe by being for the positive, it is in fact more powerful than standing against something. I want to say “yes” more often. “No” is limiting; it fights against something; it defines the negative. “Yes” is powerful. It invites as opposes to divides. It speaks to what we have, not what we lack. It’s a powerful tool for inclusion. It’s a means to fight for, to stand for, to work toward. It means I have something to offer – my “yes” defines what I can give or be or extend. I want to say “yes” as often as possible. Yes to opportunity, to possibility, to movement. Yes.

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Your mochas = trauma healing

We have exciting plans to make your mochas matter this coming year. Our local leaders on the ground spent the past few months dreaming up ways to fight extreme poverty in their communities and here’s just a little of what you can expect this year:

  • A completed water well in Malawi, providing clean water to 200 households.
  • 18 new asset-based development courses, teaching local leaders how to dream and plan for their communities.
  • Trauma-healing groups in four different Congolese communities for children who have experienced the trauma of war.
  • About 100 students from Kenyan slums receiving a secondary school education.
  • A farming project in Congo providing a sustainable source of food for an orphanage in Goma.
  • Around 40 new women being rehabilitated from a life stuck in the sex trade in Ethiopia.

You’ll notice that a few of the things on our list for 2018 revolve around trauma-healing. And it may give you pause. Isn’t that what professional counselors are for? Why do our local leaders consider this part of a plan to fight poverty? How exactly can my mochas matter through such an intangible means? Aren’t things like education and healthcare and orphan care more impactful and urgent in fighting poverty?

All good and valid questions. But here’s why our local leaders choose this as form of intervention and poverty alleviation: Trauma-healing is healthcare. It is orphan care. It is education. It is economic development. And it is something highly relevant in war-torn countries like Congo and South Sudan where we work.

How is it all those things? Take our Congolese Country Director for example. In 2017, Denis worked to train a group of community leaders how to identify and address trauma in children. Then those leaders went back to their communities and implemented what they learned — one is a director at a primary school who began “healing clubs” for the kids in his school, one lives near an IDP camp and created a support group for traumatized children in the camp, one gathered a group of police and soldiers and taught them how to better identify and respond to the children they encounter in their jobs.

The children at that primary school now have access to mental and emotional healthcare that will be vital to their ability to develop and continue their education in a school environment. The children in that IDP camp may be orphans who have witnessed unimaginable violence and now have a “family” to support them. The children who come into contact with these members of the police force will benefit from someone in a position of authority who understands them and can see past their actions. All of these things are necessary foundations from which to fight extreme and generational poverty — growing a generation of children capable of flourishing despite their trauma and becoming compassionate adults actively rebuilding their communities, economically, physically, and emotionally. This isn’t possible when that generation is bogged down by extreme trauma.

As a part of Mocha Club, you are a force behind this process. Your mochas make each of these things possible. They reach children, they reach influential adults and community leaders, and they impact the future in ways you can’t even imagine. You are fighting extreme poverty by alleviating the trauma that stands in the way of development.

(And don’t worry — part of training these local leaders is helping them recognize the limits of their abilities as lay leaders and know when to turn it over to professionals to avoid doing any harm.)

ARTISTS, EVENTS, HIV/AIDS + Healthcare, Uncategorized

Mocha Club + Jordy Searcy + YOU!

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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!


SEPTEMBER 2017

September 8: Jackson, MS // VOLUNTEER!

September 9 : Mobile, AL // VOLUNTEER!

September 12 : Fayetteville, AR // VOLUNTEER!

September 13 : Waco, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 15 : Dallas, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 16: Abilene, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 17: Texarkana, TX // VOLUNTEER!

September 22: Athens, AL // VOLUNTEER!

September 29 : Salem, OR // VOLUNTEER!

September 30: Columbia, TN // 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.**
ARTISTS, EVENTS, Uncategorized

Mocha Club + Nathan Angelo

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*Brand new* Mocha Club artist, Nathan Angelo has announced his 2017 Fall Tour and we are excited to be joining him! We hope to see you at a show as we share about our friends in Africa & ask others to join us in fighting extreme poverty!


TIMELESS TOUR 2017

August 9 : Vienna, VA

August 10 : Pittsburgh, PA

August 12 : New York, NY

August 31 : Isle of Palms, SC

September 1 : Atlanta, GA

September 2: Charlotte, NC

September 6 : Lexington, KY

September 7 : Nashville, TN

September 8 : Greer, SC

September 27 : Chicago, IL

September 28: Indianapolis, IN

September 29 : Chattanooga, TN

October 5 : Columbia, SC

October 6 : Bluffton, SC

November 1 : Asheville, NC

November 11: Dallas, TX

November 16 : San Francisco, CA

November 18: Augusta, GA


Interested in becoming a Mocha Club artist advocate? Email Fallon – fklug@themochaclub.org.

HQ, Uncategorized

WE’RE HIRING!

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We are hiring a new position for our team : Member Care Coordinator. This person will be the first point of contact with the organization and is responsible for creating a warm welcome to new members & friends of Mocha Club! Read more responsibilities & expectations below.

Applications are due Friday, April 28th with an immediate start date.

Apply by email with your resume to info(at)themochaclub.org.

>> JOB DESCRIPTION & REQUIREMENTS HERE <<

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!


 

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Meet our new President, Emily Blackledge.

We’re kicking off the new year with an announcement that Emily Blackledge has been promoted from within by the Board of Directors and will now serve as the organization’s new President.

Emily Blackledge most recently served as the Vice President of International Program for Mocha Club. She has been part of the staff since 2010 and involved with the organization since 2005. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she completed her undergraduate degree in International Political Economy at Belmont University, then spent time in Washington DC working with the President’s Initiative for Workforce Development. Blackledge received her Master’s degree in International Relations and African Studies from Boston University before returning to Nashville in 2008. She has taught international development and international politics at Belmont University and was the Sam Walton Fellow in charge of international projects for the Belmont chapter of ENACTUS before joining Mocha Club in 2010. Emily and her husband Rob live in Nashville with their son Fletcher.

“Emily has played an integral role in our international operations since 2010, and the Board and I are confident in her leadership capabilities. We look forward to working with her in this capacity,” says Chairman of the Board Jerry Heffel, formerly the President of The Southwestern Company.

“My previous role allowed me to travel and see first hand the great impact Mocha Club members are having in communities across Africa. My new role will allow me to share those stories even more here at home, to tell more people about the very real impact of their everyday generosity – something I’ve seen and experienced up close the past several years — and of our collective power to ignite change. I couldn’t be more excited about that going forward,” says Blackledge.

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, Mocha Club will host an Open House at their office in Brentwood. The public is invited and encouraged to come meet Emily and learn more about the future of the organization.

Donuts & Mochas Open House
Wednesday, January 25, 2017 • 7:30am – 9:30am at the Mocha Club Offices
500 Wilson Pike Circle, Suite 117 Brentwood, TN 37027

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.

Uncategorized

Mochatern Monday 11.21.16 : Through the Back Door

Much of what I have learned recently came through reading books: a history book, how-to books on qualitative research, that one economics book, books on how the spiritual intersects with caring for others. And then there are all the words I’ve gratefully received from the people around me that work in the nongovernmental (NGO) sector. However, just because I’ve learned a lot doesn’t mean my application is on point.

In my first blog here, I wrote about learning that we ought to work “with” and not “for” the poor. In the world of education, it is easy to say, “Got it! I passed that test. I know that information. Let’s move on.” But good learning is so much more than that. These foundational pieces are meant to be built upon, not disappear. They are so important that we might have to check every once in a while and make sure the foundation isn’t cracking.

I considered sharing a poem I wrote recently called “Envision a Heard World.” In it, I basically critique the position that advocates for material things to be sent to those who need them, instead of also acknowledging their nonmaterial needs. I say that dignity never arrives in a box. So far so good. At the end of the poem, I wrote: “Please do not be deaf, too. / Hear our voices, / Close your eyes of self-determined vision / And hear our need to be heard.”

When I wrote this and read through it again the first few times, I saw nothing wrong with it. This time, though, I realized that I used my voice to cloud the voices of those who want to speak for themselves. Not good. In fact, that goes against everything I want to do and achieve. There is a time to advocate or speak on behalf of someone when you are acting as a mediator, but this is not an appropriate way of doing that.

One of the important things I learned in creative writing classes in college is that form needs to match function. If you are trying to say something, use a format that works with the point you are trying to make. I broke this rule when I used quotations in this poem, inserting my own power over the voices of those I did not even speak to. Those words were never said outside of my head. If I appeal to my audience in my own voice on behalf of others, perhaps that could be done in a way that does not trample on their own words.

So this is my confession. I am still learning and always will be. But I hope the cracks in my foundation are being filled with good cement so that I can build and advocate in a way that reflects the people I’m trying to love. This is also my warning, a little piece of advice to myself and others: don’t let words like this slip in through the back door of your mind and out of your mouth or onto a page. Yes, speak for yourself. And speak with others and sometimes about their stories when appropriate. But do not speak for them. They are capable of that. And if they need a megaphone, maybe your role is just to hand it to them without saying a word.

 

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Mochatern Monday 11.14.16 : Good Work

There are a lot of people rejoicing today and a lot of people in pain. Two presidential candidates were up for election; the result was, for many, an unexpected one. Many rejoice, many are in tears, and perhaps all are overwhelmingly disillusioned by a campaign season that was paved with hatred and discord. So while America can’t seem to agree on much, perhaps we can all agree on the importance of this question: is there a way for us to be less divided?img_6056

There are many things we may never agree on—and really, what a blessing to have the freedom to disagree. But I’m glad to be sitting at a desk at the Mocha Club office this morning, because it’s reminding me that there are so, so many things we can agree on. Orphan care is important; education is vital. Extending a hand to friends, both near and far, is beautiful. The way Mocha Club enables us to hear the stories and know the hearts of people in countries very far away: that’s special. There is work to be done, and we have the power to join in that work, with our attention, our volunteering, and our monthly donations, even the smallest of them.

Many of our friends in African countries do not have the luxury of peace amid changes in political power. For some of them, one-party governments often resemble dictatorships, elections come with rumors of rigging, and changes in power are accompanied by violence. No matter your views on last week’s results, let’s rejoice in a transfer of power that is peaceful, and let’s focus our energies on the good work still left for us to do.