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!
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.
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!
Everyone has a story. And in each individual’s story, they are their own hero – the central figure to their story.
In a neighborhood, to find out what the problems are or the solutions can be, the best way to do that is to listen to the stories of those already in the community. With time, as you build
relationship, trust is given and respect is built. Then, there comes a time where asking questions and offering ideas adds value to the task at hand. But for starters, listen!
Because like it or not, our neighbors are a part of our “we.” The people that live around my house, the colleagues that share my office space, the men and women, boys and girls that go to my church are a part of my community. And I believe there is value in every human being. So the value and strength of my community is directly tied to the people and potential that exists in each of the individuals there. By not knowing them, I can’t know what value, what beauty, what assets they bring to the community. And when the whole is only as great as the sum of its parts, then the whole suffers when the assets of the individuals are not recognized and used. So – get to know your neighbors!
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.
Have you ever dreamed of running a race in Africa? Do you have a heart to serve others around the world? Do you love to meet new people around the world?
Join our team for the Mocha Club Journey 2018 trip – Run for Hope!
This summer we are headed to Kenya! We will spend time with our partners at New Dawn Educational Centrein 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.
Dates: August3- August 13, 2018 (dates could vary 1-2 days on each side, depending on flight availability)
Cost: $3,700 – 4,000 (depending on single or double room occupancy)
Fallon officially joined the Mocha Club team in Nashville in early 2013, but has been a long-time member and supporter. As the Mocha Club Artist & Member Care Manager, she’ll make sure your trip to Africa is just one of the many ways you stay connected to the club! Fallon loves dancing, baseball (Go Tigers!), and leftovers.
REFUGEE: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster.
This definition has been my understanding of a refugee for years and the images we see on US television paint a grim reality that thousands endure each year as they are impacted by the trauma forcing them from their homes.
In February, I was able to go and visit Mocha Club’s Country Director and staff who are working in northern Uganda with refugees fleeing the war in South Sudan. As we began our drive into the camps, my heart was ready for what my head was sure I was about to encounter.
Our journey led us to Adjumani, Uganda where I first met Anthony, an older man with a kind smile who looked to be in his late sixties. He was standing in front of the tarped structure he now calls home. Last September, when the fighting got close to his village in South Sudan, he sent his mother, his wife, and his five young children to safety in Uganda. He stayed behind, separated from his loved ones, salvaging what he could of their farm until army rebels took over three months later, forcing him to flee.
As Anthony shared his story, I could see the fear and heartbreak he had lived through on his face. He was not sure what he would find as he crossed the Nile and made his way to the processing tent at Adjumani where all new refugees must go to get registered and ask about their relatives. Did his mother survive the trek three months ago? Were all of his children still alive? Would his wife be there? It’s a reality I truly can’t fathom.
Anthony’s story lined up with what I have seen on TV or witnessed in other camps before. I had expected Adjumani to be unfathomable: hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees; makeshift communities dotted with tarped roofs; tons of stories just like Anthony’s.
I’ve been in many places like this before – places where poverty, war and trauma are overwhelming and it looks like – it feels like – all hope is lost. In these camps, there is a tension that exists and becomes normal. Refugee vs. Peacekeeper. Refugee vs. Refugee. Refugee vs. Local. This tension is often even tangibly represented by a huge fence around the camp – not to keep refugees safe, but to keep them in. In this reality, a refugee is fighting to survive – they never even dream about thriving.
Adjumani is different.
As Tito, our South Sudan Country Director, showed me around, I began to see things I had not expected. I saw smiles, I saw community, I saw – HOPE. Tito pointed out opportunity, vision, dreams, and plans for a future here. He was breathing hope to life.
I struggled to reconcile what I had expected with what was right in front of me, then it hit me… these people’s lives had been entirely wrecked, forever altered. But they were finally at a place where they could stop running.
Hundreds of thousands of people like Anthony had fought to make it here. But when they arrived, they found kindness and were offered land next to their Ugandan neighbors. I was able to ask several Ugandans, “Why are you so willing to share your land, your schools, your economy with so many South Sudanese refugees?” Their response? “Because ten years ago, they did that for us.”
For decades, this region has lived with civil war, with night commutes and child soldiers. Where we see a line separating South Sudan and Uganda, they don’t see anything. They lived here long before that line was drawn; they’ve been neighbors for centuries; they’ve hosted each other in times of crisis. And they continue to do so — because when all else fails, community remains.
I now had a new understanding and appreciation for refugees. While what I saw was different than my expectations, it did not diminish the very real needs, which are still present. Remember those tarp roofs? Tito shared with us that they only last three months and an immediate need in the refugee community is to find a solution for them.Thanks to you and the Mocha Club community we have been able to provide zinc roofs for many of the refugee families.
Oh, and Anthony? His family is one that will benefit from the zinc roofs – the roofs that are a result of your mochas. That’s me, Anthony, and his wife Betty in front of their current home, tarp and all. Soon that tarp will be replaced by the zinc sheets he has received. And for the next ten years, those zinc sheets – your mochas – will be the solid roof over his family in this community that has become their home.
I asked Tito what was next – for the refugees and for how Mocha Club could support them beyond a solid roof under which their families could lay their heads. He said he dreams of a place where they can rest their hearts as well. So he is beginning to teach these refugees how to walk through their stories of trauma and loss and begin to heal.
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 Mvera’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!
Have you ever thought about how the places you live and work and enjoy were once just an idea in someone’s head? Think about your school, your home, your favorite coffeeshop. They all began with a dream; a hope to support the life and joy of your community.
During MC Journey 2016, this awareness transformed our 12-day trip into a deeply meaningful experience. Each and every place we visited held a special memory — chatting with students and teachers at New Dawn, dancing with the women at HEKO while rain fell around our shelter, sitting on the sunlit porch at the Women at Risk recalling the darkness of the drive we took the night before — but more than anything, I loved hearing stories of how and why it all began.
Before our visit to each organization, we sat across the table from their founders as they graciously shared their personal journey leading to the realization of a need in their community. We had the privilege of hearing how places like New Dawn, HEKO, and Women and Risk were once dreams, turned into reality, and sustained by the support of every Mocha Club member. Can you imagine walking into a place for the very first time with that understanding of its history?
The hardest work you will do on your MC Journey will be to let go of your expectations and be fully present during every conversation, every story, every offer of service given to you. You will most certainly do more listening than labor. You will come to find that you are there not to serve, but be served. You will so clearly see how one cup of coffee supports African leaders with a vision for loving their community. You will see how one cup plants hope in many who felt hopeless, and how another empowers them to live independently in health and financial stability. But most importantly, you will be filled to the brim with a joy so moving I can hardly put it into words. Go. Go and see the power of a mocha.
This summer, I went to a faraway place. The dirt covers your feet there, the mountains loom large and the children shout “mzungu!” (white person) as you pass. I went to Bundibugyo, a small town in rural western Uganda, and it did not leave me where it found me.
While in Bundibugyo, I learned to say about forty words in Lubwisi, the local language. I learned to say hello, goodbye, and thank you. I could say chicken, cow, and goat. I was a far cry from any sort of real conversation. I learned to buy chapati (a tortilla-flatbread-pancake sort of thing) from the lady chapati maker on the corner, though I too often forgot to greet her before placing my order. I learned my way around the market, through stalls of cabbage, tomatoes, fish, beans, and rice, always struggling to figure out how Ugandan shillings worked in my American-dollar brain. Though I was welcomed and loved by both the community I lived in and the organization I joined, as I drove eastward to the Entebbe airport on my way out of the country in late July, I knew I’d barely scraped the surface.
I think this gets at one of the biggest things I realized, in those weeks in Uganda: the immense length of time it would take to really become a part of the community. You can’t simply pop over the Rwenzori Mountains from Fort Portal and start enchanting all the locals with your enthusiasm, your willingness to help, or your care for children or elderly people or pregnant women. No, it takes a bit more than that. Because even if you’ve got the Lubwisi down, you’ve got an accent too; and do you really know the culture yet? Do you know why western Uganda is the way it is? Do you fully appreciate all the nuances of life there? And let’s not forget you’re a Mzungu, a white person from a place very far away. Sit, sit and watch for a bit. Listen, listen a while before you speak.
This lesson is one that has served me well, even after returning to America, and into my internship here at Mocha Club. Much of the work that Mocha Club supports is done in places like Bundibugyo, places where joy and brokenness and sorrow and gladness live side by side. The Home Again Children’s Home, for instance, a ministry supported by Mocha Club that provides a home for over 70 children, is in Kaihura, Uganda—a town I drove right through on my journey back to America.These are places with need, but they are not places devoid of of histories, of traditions, of language, or of people who love them. The joy for us comes when we listen, when we wait, and when we join in the work that is already being done.
That’s the real privilege, isn’t it? Even here in the States, somewhere around 8,000 miles from a place like East Africa, we who are a part of the Mocha Club get to join in this work. We get to go to shows, contribute a few dollars a month, see photos, and hear stories of the work already begun—with, not for or around or in spite of,the people in places like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda. We join in. And maybe that’s all way more humbling than we expected—but oh, see how much better it all is, and watch how much we learn.