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Changing the Conversation: A new podcast!

You’ve heard us say before how much we learn from Africa. And we’re always looking for ways to share what we’ve experienced. So we’re excited to announce the launching of our podcast Changing the Conversation!

We believe the greatest asset we have is our love.  But how do we best love others? On our podcast, “Changing the Conversation”, we take time to explore a variety of topics to challenge our perspective in pursuit of better loving people and the world around us. We sit down with artists, writers, country leaders, CEOs and more to consider a different way of looking at a situation by taking the time to listen.

African Leadership Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to educating world-changing leaders all over the continent of Africa.  Mocha Club, an impact partner of African Leadership, focuses on creating a community of givers who can leverage their assets to support these leaders as they build healthy, more sustainable communities in Africa.

Episode 001: Why Are We Here?

Did you know there are 350 new podcasts launching EVERY DAY?! Emily Blackledge and Fallon Klug kick off the “Changing the Conversation” podcast by answering the question each new listener asks “Why are you here?” We hope that our common dreams of making the world a better place, our listeners will see these conversations as important & inspiring. Brought to you by African Leadership and the Mocha Club.

Listen here!

AFRICA NEWS, Economic Freedom, FROM THE FIELD, I NEED AFRICA, INSPIRATION

What really is the problem in Africa?

Extreme poverty affects 414,000,000 people in Africa. When you add war, drought, and refugee camps to this story, this problem becomes even more complex and overwhelming. As change-makers, we see this poverty as the villain and we want to fight. But how?

Poverty is complex. There are many reasons why it exists. There are many necessary interventions to eradicate it – like education, water, shelter and safety, healthcare, food, and jobs. There is no “one size fits all” solution. Because like you, each community has a unique history and set of circumstances. To leave a lasting impact on a community, you must learn and know that community. In order to eradicate extreme poverty, we have to work intentionally, community by community, dream by dream.

At Mocha Club, this is what we do. We interact with communities all across the continent and learn what makes them unique. We work intentionally with local leaders in these communities to hear their dreams of how they want to fight extreme poverty. And we join them in the fight.

Because real, lasting change starts with change-makers – both local leaders and people just like you. Men and women who explore ideas, resources and problems to enact creative solutions to the many faces of extreme poverty. And here’s the great news: the number of change-makers is greater than the number of people in extreme poverty. Every individual affected by poverty wants change – they are fighting this villain from the front lines. We are joining them in this fight. Together, we are bigger and stronger than 414,000,000!

Collectively, we have what it takes to fight extreme poverty; we’ve seen it. We know change-makers with specific skills, we’ve met local leaders who know their communities inside and out, we have friends with passion, conviction, and tireless enthusiasm for the fight. We are spread across the globe – in homes, villages, apartments and hostels. We are an international community of change-makers who leverage who we are, give what we have, use what we know, and learn what we don’t to fight extreme poverty and leave an impact we know will last across Africa.

So where do YOU fit in?

It may be taking a trip with us to hear from our local leaders directly and use your own unique skills to lend a hand. It may be leveraging your voice and social media to share about these leaders and their dreams with your family and friends. Or maybe it’s simply joining our giving community and supporting these leaders from right where you are.

Will you join our community of change-makers?

#mcjourney2018, AFRICA NEWS, Education, EVENTS, FROM THE FIELD, HIV/AIDS + Healthcare, Orphan Care, PERSPECTIVES

When Africa Comes to Nashville

A team of five Mocha Club members made a 25-hour trek to Nairobi, Kenya on Friday, August 3rd. For three of them, this was their first time to travel with Mocha Club to Africa. Their purpose was two-fold: to use their assets – their love, their experience organizing fundraising races here in the US, and their capacity to care well for others; and to learn from the ingenuity, the solutions, and the ongoing stamina of the leaders we walk alongside in Africa.

They stopped first in Mombasa, Kenya. This huge port town on the edge of the Indian Ocean is a major stop for many wealthy tourists in Africa. But it’s also the home of one of the world’s largest and last leprosy camps. We’ve shared a bit about Peter Ochiel, but these members wanted to see first-hand what it looks like to love and care for individuals rejected by their communities and ostracized because of a curable disease. They visited homes, they removed parasites from children’s hands and feet, they laughed and shared meals with the staff and families who give their whole lives in this corner of the world.

Next, they moved to the Huruma slum to spend three days with Irene Tongoi. Many of these Mocha Club members have helped organize a fundraising race here in the US to support the work Irene is doing in the New Dawn school. As she and her staff prepared for the second annual running in Nairobi, she prayed God would send her additional help and encouragement in the final few days. That help came in the shape of these members, several of whom knew exactly what it looked like to throw a race like this. Their contribution of organization, encouragement, and passion helped make this race highly successful.

When these members got back, they organized a time to share about their trip – and Peter Ochiel was in town – so it was a reunion of sorts. While they were together, we circled back to their original purpose: in what ways had their gifts been helpful in Kenya? Peter’s reply was encouragement. Their presence was seen in this community as such an honor. Their love and encouragement and willingness to touch the skin of an outcast brought joy, and laughter, and dignity. Their touch was a tangible expression of the hours of work Peter puts in every month. As to what they learned, Kathryn mentioned how simple an act it was to engage and ask questions about someone’s story — but also how profound. Fallon nodded her head and added “it’s so simple to give the love I have to another.”

Success was experienced by them all. Community – a sense of belonging and being known, a place where the pronouns used are “we” — was deepened.

Read more from these members and see their trip in pictures here.

#mcjourney2018, AFRICA NEWS, AFRICA TRIPS, CAMPAIGNS, Clean Water, Education, FROM THE FIELD, HQ, Orphan Care, PERSPECTIVES, Uncategorized

#MCJourney2018 : meet Fallon!

And last but not least, it’s time to introduce the remaining team member of the Mocha Club Journey 2018!

Lastly…

Meet Fallon!

Hey friends! I’m the trip leader for our journey this August! I officially joined the Mocha Club team in Nashville in early 2013, but have been a long-time member and supporter.  

As the Mocha Club Artist & Member Care Manager, I’ll make sure your trip to Africa is just one of the many ways you stay connected to the club! I love dancing, baseball (Go Tigers!), and leftovers.


The Mocha Club Journey 2018 team is headed to Kenya!  We will spend time with our partners at New Dawn Educational Centre  in Nairobi, Kenya and participate in their second annual Run For Hope 5K! All proceeds from the race help support operations and send kids to school at New Dawn. We will also be visiting another Mocha Club partner, Action Ministry and their founder, Peter Ochiel who serves a leprosy community in Ukunda. Our trips provide an opportunity for Mocha Club members and their friends to visit Africa and witness firsthand how giving to Mocha Club & supporting local leaders creates thriving communities, while having a chance to serve the African people.

 

 

#mcjourney2018, AFRICA NEWS, AFRICA TRIPS, CAMPAIGNS, Education, FROM THE FIELD, I NEED AFRICA, INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES

#MCJourney2018 : meet Allison!

We are excited to introduce you to another person on our Mocha Club Journey 2018 team! 

Up next…

Meet Allison!

I’m thrilled to be heading to Kenya and I wish I could take all of you with us! I have been a Mocha Club member for 9 years and have loved learning the stories of our friends in Africa and hearing about their generosity, creativity, and ingenuity as they build schools, educate kids, and so much more. When I visited Kenya in 2009, I was inspired by many people (see ancient blog posts here from MC projects in Kitui and Nairobi) but felt especially connected to the students at New Dawn because of their courageous personal stories. As a MC volunteer, I helped raise funds for them for many years with friends in Nashville, and I’m so excited to visit them again and walk in classrooms and talk with teachers.

More about me… I’m the Managing Director of the Nashville Office of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We fundraise to support St. Jude’s mission of finding cures and saving children through wonderful volunteers, corporate partners, and brilliant committees who host dinners, concerts, marathons, radio-thons, walks, golf tournaments, a rodeo, and much more. When I’m not working, I love yoga, cooking, gardening, and walks with friends in my Nashville neighborhood. I was also recently described as “A Nashville food blogger without the blog,” because I love trying new restaurants and always have a new favorite.


The Mocha Club Journey 2018 team is headed to Kenya!  We will spend time with our partners at New Dawn Educational Centre  in Nairobi, Kenya and participate in their second annual Run For Hope 5K! All proceeds from the race help support operations and send kids to school at New Dawn. We will also be visiting another Mocha Club partner, Action Ministry and their founder, Peter Ochiel who serves a leprosy community in Ukunda. Our trips provide an opportunity for Mocha Club members and their friends to visit Africa and witness firsthand how giving to Mocha Club & supporting local leaders creates thriving communities, while having a chance to serve the African people.

**If you would like to donate – either to Allison’s trip or to sponsor a New Dawn student – click the links below!

       Sponsor Allison’s trip                                                         Sponsor a New Dawn student

AFRICA NEWS, I NEED AFRICA, INSPIRATION

Loved people love people

Loved people love people
A note from Mocha Club President Emily Blackledge.

 I often get asked why I do this work…why Africa?

My answer is simple: loved people love people. And for me, that answer is not specific to Africa. Sure, I work at an NGO that focuses on Africa, but I have a lot of hours in my day that aren’t spent at work. I serve at my church, I care for a family, I volunteer in the inner city.

In each case, my “why” is always the same: I am loved, so I love.

Being loved is an asset. It’s a gift that I have been given. And I don’t believe we are given gifts for ourselves alone. I have been loved, and I have been loved well. So out of that love, I have much to give.

I see that modeled so well when I travel across Africa.

Places and people who do not know me, welcome me in, offer me food and drink, give from what they have. Why? Because it has been done for them. Somewhere along the way, someone loved them, offered them food and drink, welcomed them in.

It’s a mark of humanity that I want to champion in all parts of my life. I can only give from what I have – and love is my best asset. The love of Christ compels me.

Loved people love people.


Throughout the rest of the year, we’ll be showcasing the ways we see loved people love people across our network. We’d love to hear from you! Why do you give or volunteer? How have you been loved? Share your story with us online — hashtag #LovedPeopleLovePeople & #mochaclub and we’ll send you a Mocha Club magnet!

AFRICA NEWS, Education, FROM THE FIELD, HQ, I NEED AFRICA, INSPIRATION, Orphan Care

War, poverty…and thriving?

War and poverty have written much of Congo’s story.

But there’s a church in the countryside taking back the narrative. They are rewriting their story as that of a thriving community.

How? Your everyday generosity allowed Pastor Jean to dream of a new reality for the children in his community. Then you gave him the chance to learn how to make it happen.

Your support of Mocha Club helps equip local leaders like Pastor Jean.

What was this community like before? Pastor Jean explains, “I saw in the streets many kids. Children filled our church every morning. Some wept. They’d never smile and would get aggressive. Joy was missing and it was difficult for me to see. I tried to help them, bring joy to them with songs and dances, but it was not enough.”

Pastor Jean dreamt of helping the children in his community, but he didn’t know how.

 Thanks to you, he received training in child trauma-healing. He learned how to help children thrive despite the trauma around them.

“It was a blessing. It opened my mind and made me strong in this ministry, which is not only a pillarto my church but that will help many children in this place. We’ve become friends with these kids and have helped them commit their lives and pains to Jesus who can take care of us. Now I know the trauma these children live with and how to lead them. Now they can get healing in my church, in my family, and in our environment.”

In a place where thriving seems impossible, Pastor Jean is changing the storyline. His church has become an agent of change for traumatized children, a place where the next generation can heal and grow and thrive together.

He has been the difference to his community, and you have been the difference to him. Together, we are building Africa’s dreams.

AFRICA NEWS, FROM THE FIELD, HQ, Uncategorized

Learning your A-B-C-Ds…

We sat down with Mocha Club President, Emily to discuss the strategy of how Mocha Club educates local leaders in Africa & it’s all about your A-B-C-Ds:  Asset-Based Community Development. Through many years of working with African friends, we have seen (and learned) how powerful it can be when you look at what you have instead of what you lack. And it’s a good way to look at life, in general!

Read along with our conversation with Emily…

How do you use asset-based community development to think holistically?

Asset based development starts with what you have instead of what you lack. It’s a perspective, a mindset, a way of thinking about the world and your place in it. This mindset creates a positive posture from which to approach any topic or situation. And its open-ended question of “what do I have?” naturally allows you to explore answers from multiple angles. Not only do you create a list of things you know intellectually, but you also use your passions as strengths and consider what you can do with your hands. This question and mindset allows you to bring all of yourself to a situation or  problem and create the most holistic response.

Why focus on assets instead of problems?

Both are important. Problems arise by knowing where you want to go and what stands in your way to getting there. Equal to the creation of progress is knowing what you have to work with. “Assets” is just a fancy word for what you have. So when we choose to focus on what we have instead of what we lack, we can begin to see where we currently are and all the avenues for moving forward. It propels progress. Progress brings development – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

What transformation happens in a community when you start to look at what you have instead of what you lack?

Positivity. More than anything else, when you start a conversation with what you have – you begin on a positive note. This alone can help spur progress and development. Just like all elements of confidence and assurance, when you look at your surroundings and can see something positive – or at least start with something positive, you invite progress and development. When you consider the circumstance from all of your assets – you think holistically about the circumstance – you often notice elements of yourself or those around you that you might have missed otherwise. That knowledge can bring transformation.

Where can ABCD be used outside of a community in Africa? (relationships, self care, school, etc.)?

YOU can use this concept of asset based in anything – your relationships, yourself, your job. I am always shocked where I find it. For example, I was recently reading a course book on trauma counseling where they spoke specifically about using asset based tests to work with their clients on what they have to bring to their circumstances, not only focusing on their need or lack or trauma. I’ve talked with college students about using ABCD when determining how to split up a group project. Wouldn’t you rather ask the person who LOVES numbers to be in charge of the budget or numbers doc than the person who can write sheet music?! And with children – it works really well to build self confidence to start with what they can do and what they love to do than what they are struggling with in school. How do you work with what you have to solve the issues that keep you from getting to where you want to go.

AFRICA NEWS, FROM THE FIELD, HQ, I NEED AFRICA, INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES

Using Your Gifts to Make a Difference

It’s easy to feel helpless when it comes to the bigger problems in the world. You may look around and see all that’s wrong, and want to help, but feel unsure of where or how to begin. You may even dream up a solution, and then your brain interrupts…but I don’t have x, y, or z, so I can’t. You may think you lack what you need to make a difference. That’s a normal thought.

But it’s not true. Through asset-based community development, you can make a difference right where you are.

What’s asset-based community development?

Asset-based community development is working with what you have, rather than being hindered by what you lack.

A community in Africa might lack clean water. The multitude of issues that arise from that one problem — water borne diseases, girls missing school to gather water, and more — make it seem even more complex to address. Installing a clean water well is expensive and time consuming, creating an overwhelming hurdle for many African communities.

However, asset-based community development allows you to look at these problems in a new way.

In Africa, our leaders are trained to look for their assets first. When you partner with Mocha Club leaders, you help this important work happen. Leaders may find they have a community member trained in water engineering, or maybe they discover easy access to piping, or are able to connect with a local storeowner willing to donate a water tank. By educating community members on the direct benefits of clean water, many may volunteer their labor. Leaders may even find that stones, sand, and construction tools are all readily available locally.

Little by little, you help a practical and doable solution take shape.

This is how Mocha Club operates all our programs. You may see poverty around the world and think, I don’t have the money or the time it takes to make a difference. But what might be possible when you consider your assets?

Do you have a passion to help others and the determination to follow through? Do you have some spare change you can set aside during the week? What specific gifts do you have that can be used to tackle poverty? Do you have friends who can combine their efforts with yours?

You are uniquely gifted to make a difference.

So, what would happen in your world if instead of getting stuck in …but I don’t have x, y, or z so I can’t, you reframed your thinking to …I have a, b, and c, so let’s get started?

Consider your assets. You may find you’re closer to making a difference than you think.

Not a member of the Mocha Club giving community?
Join Today!

AFRICA NEWS, FROM THE FIELD, HQ, I NEED AFRICA, INSPIRATION, PERSPECTIVES, Women at Risk

Are you listening?

Quick – think of a country dealing with trauma.

Where is it? Probably somewhere there is war. Somewhere the trauma is tangible and palpable. The kind of place you hear about on the news. Right?

That wouldn’t be wrong. But your mochas helped us address trauma in peaceful Malawi.

Why? Because when we listened to our Malawi Country Director, Leonard, here’s what we heard:

“Gender-based violence is a big problem in Malawi. Probably around 40% of women and children face it. It retards development – women are not willing to take up leadership positions because they are filled with fear due to trauma that results from gender-based violence. Many girls are being raped by those who are supposed to protect them and remain quiet for fear of reprisal, resulting in poor performance in school and dropping out. It is taboo to talk about in the public. Right now there are many women and girls dying in silence. Most people have not reached a point of gathering courage to report these matters to police.  

So what we are doing now is helping fellow Malawians by training and equipping pastors on trauma issues so they are able to assist those who are traumatized. The good news is that people in Malawi trust pastors and church leaders most and are able to share their secret stories with them. We also are encouraging pastors to break the silence in their churches by talking about issues of gender-based violence. Trauma-healing isn’t only needed in war torn countries like South Sudan and Congo. It is needed everywhere.” 

40%. Can you imagine almost half the women and children you pass by today experiencing this kind of abuse? Would you have imagined that you had the power to affect change for them? Because that’s what you did.

Mocha Club believes that change is possible and it starts with investing in the right people. By helping one person lead well, you can help an entire community prosper. So we listened to Leonard, who was hearing a very real need in his community – and that’s how you, Mocha Club member, paved the way for local leaders in Malawi to learn how to listen, respond, and offer safety in instances of gender-based violence.

Haven’t joined the Club yet? For less than $1/day you can educate world-changing leaders to build healthier, more sustainable communities in Africa — just like the ones in Malawi combatting gender-based violence. Join us today.

JOIN US.