Eighteen years after the genocide of the Tutsis that took an estimated 800,000 lives, Rwanda’s national cycling team is gaining international recognition. The team’s members are all survivors of the genocide. Among the Team is Adrien Niyonshuti who will be representing Team Rwanda at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
American Tour de France winner Jonathan “Jock” Bayer came to Rwanda to coach Team Rwanda after witnessing promising talent at the 2006 Wooden Bike Classic held in Rwanda. The classic was named this after the wooden bikes native to Rwanda used to transport crops from farm to farm. These bikes have been banned on the main roads because of their difficulty to maneuver and stop.
The team’s success has had a positive impact on Rwanda’s citizens. Their success has helped to “change lingering perceptions of Rwanda as a broken, dangerous and impoverished place…it’s also helping to change how Rwandans view themselves.”
How often do you hear “rags to riches” stories of young men and women from poor areas of the United States making it to Ivey League institutions? Not often enough. How often do you here of a boy from a remote village in Africa making it to an Ivy League school? Never. Against all odds, South Sudanese native Paul Lorem has done just that.
Paul Lorem grew up in a small village of cattle herders in South Sudan. The village did not have any schools or a health clinic. When Lorem was 5, he got tuberculosis. His parents took him to a refugee camp in northern Kenya with the hopes of him receiving proper medical care.
Lorem attended school at the refugee camp where the instructors took immediate interest in him. He earned the second highest mark on the nationwide exam in all of Kenya after teaching himself Swahili. This achievement earned him a scholarship to a top boarding school in Kenya and then off to the African Leadership Academy in South Africa.
Now, Lorem is in his freshman year at Yale University. This is proving to be a new challenge because English is his 5th language. Yale Admissions Director Jeffrey Benzel states,
“On the one hand, these adjustments are greater for him than for many, but, on the other hand, he has already overcome far greater challenges than other students have just to get here.”
Lorem plans to return to Sudan upon graduation to help rebuild his country. Talk about inspirational.
Giving looks different for everybody. For some, giving means giving up money to help someone. To others, it means giving time. Still, for those special few, it means giving both.
My dad is one of those people.
He became a surgeon not to make loads of money. He did not become a surgeon for the status. He became a surgeon to help people. And helping people is what he does best.
My dad spent three weeks last month in Wolaitta, Ethiopia with the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons helping to train surgeons at the Soddo Christian Hospital in this rural part of Africa. This is the second of many trips to Africa that he plans to make to help a country with very little surgical ability become educated to help those who need it most.
The Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons was formed in 1997 in response to a profound need for surgical manpower in Africa. The shortage of surgeons in Africa is increasingly being recognized as a global health crisis having only 1 surgeon for every 250,000 people in populated areas and 1 for every 2.5 million people living in rural areas. And we thought we had a healthcare problem? So far, PAACS is the only international rural-based surgical training program in Africa with 18 general surgeons and 1 pediatric surgeons fully trained with many more to come.
To read more about PAACS, go to http://www.paacs.net to learn more about this amazing program and the surgeons who are changing the lives of Africans.
We all grew up watching cartoons. My personal favorites were Winnie the Pooh, Looney Tunes, and Bobby’s World (don’t judge, you know you liked them too). There was just something about getting to watch our favorite cartoon on Saturday mornings that made our childhood what it was.
Nigerian animator Adamu Waziri is trying to give this same childhood to Nigerian children in Africa. He created a new animated cartoon called “Bino and Fino”, which tells the story of a brother and sister living with their grandparents in an unnamed African city. Waziri states that he wishes to use the show as a way to teach children about African history, languages, and culture.
Typically, when you think of an African show, you might think of safari animals talking and singing (think Madagascar with me), but that is not what Waziri wants to accomplish. He wants to have a show that depicts the modern day middle class society of African culture.
“I want the program to teach kids and show that the stuff you see on TV of starving people isn’t the only thing (in Africa)- you have a middle class here who have the same aspirations as everyone else.” – Adamu Waziri, creator
The show has been aired in the UK, but has yet to be aired in their native country of Nigeria. The next step is to attract the funding and sponsors needed to get it aired in Nigeria.
Waziri states that it is time to “stop waiting for Disney to do it, do it yourself.” Move over Disney.
We love to tell you stories of the lives that are positively affected by our HIV/AIDS project. As you can imagine, there are very few patients willing to have their names and stories posted on the internet. The stigma that goes along with being HIV+ in Africa is still very evident, so many of our patients ask for anonymity.
We recently received an email from the director of HEKO and thought we’d share an excerpt of how 2012 has begun for them, challenges and all…..
As we welcome 2012, we also proudly reflect on the tremendous achievements we realized in our project activities through the improvement of Health and Nutritional status of people living with HIV/AIDS in the slums of Kibera, through your valuable financial support in the past year.
Our outstanding challenges, though many are within our reach. It is our prayers that we jointly continue to concentrate our efforts in enhancing and expanding the services by creating more opportunities of hope to the hopeless families devastated by the effect of HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Last year we experienced economic threats due to severe drought, calamities and inflation due to high cost of basic commodities which made it difficult for us to meet some of our targets. Kenya has been besieged by rocketing prices of key foods, fuel products and other basic needs. This runaway surge in the cost of basic living is probably an eye-opener to redefine our priorities in mitigating the negative impact of HIV/AIDS among the target population we work with.
I am confident that with your prayers and continued support we at HEKO will emerge victorious and a united team.
We love seeing the continued improvements to the Resource Center at New Dawn in Kenya.
As we told you last month, these containers, once stacked, connected, and read to use, will give the 160 high school students an area to study and a place where supplies and resources, such as computers, will be housed. It will also be used for group projects and classrooms.
Here is the most recent shot of the Resource Center. HUGE amount of work have gone into this much building and we look forward to seeing the final pictures — students learning and growing in that place!
(You’ve totally got to check out the difference between this month and last month. AMAZING!)
Thanks for your continued support of our Education project. It’s so fun to watch this process!
While our Women at Risk projects in Nazaret and Addis work to release Ethiopian women from the sex industry and teach them skills that allow them to make an honest living for their families, we now have a new mission as well.
The Nazaret project has recently hired a new team leader who previously also worked with youth in schools and churches. With her experience and contacts throughout the community, she is going to begin a prevention course and classes on the risks of prostitution and necessary life skills.
Many of the women currently in our rehabilitation groups felt forced into a life of prostitution because they previously did not have other hirable skills. Our new leader will be giving hope and another choice to many young women, hoping that they will pursue other avenues of income. With over 2,000 youth in schools and seven churches in the Nazaret area, we are excited to see the changes this prevention courses can make in the community.
Here at the Mocha Club, it is always nice to hear of other artists who are using their musical voices to make a difference in the world. Grammy award-winning producer Mark Johnson launched the Playing for Change Foundation in 2004 to raise awareness for global peace by breaking global barriers and connecting people of different races.
He went around the globe recording over 150 street musicians from over 25 countries. He recorded classic songs such as “Stand by Me” and interwove them into a single song. Most of the musicians recorded were street musicians such as Mermans Kenkosenski from the Democratic Republic of Congo who are playing music for the love of it. He says, “There are people who play music for fame, for money, and there are people who play for the love of it.”
The album “Playing for Change: Songs Around the World” debuted at number 10 on the Billboard charts in 2009. All of the proceeds go to building music schools in Africa in countries such as Ghana, South Africa, and Mali. So far the foundation has started more than 8 programs for over 600 children and has created over 150 jobs for these people in Africa.
March 22 was World Water Day and we loved celebrating it here at Mocha Club!
Mocha Cub is committed to 100% of our projects being community owned and operated. Every month, if you donate towards our Clean Water project, you are a part of us creating sustainable solutions for those in need of drinkable water in Africa.
In Ethiopia alone, three out of every five people lack access to clean water.
Women & children walk up to six hours a day to collect water, taking them away from work and school.
And where there are water solutions, 50% of the projects fail because of a lack of community involvement.
Here our director Barrett and Kiely, our staff member in Ethiopia, tell you about the future of wells and how you can be a continued part of the solution.