We partner with people through business and community development to break the cycle of poverty.

Celebrating Past and Future: A Letter from the Executive Director

May 31st, 2013

It was with great joy for the journey behind and ahead that the 1010 Project celebrated its 10-year anniversary on May 10 with volunteers, interns, service learning participants, staff, board members, and many friends, both old and new. Whether you were there in person or in spirit, we are deeply grateful for each and every one of you who has joined the 1010 story.

The SchaapsMany of us, including founders Andrew and Melia Syed, shared fond memories of 1010 experiences and relationships  over a remarkable decade. We also heard from Josephine, who sent us a special video from Kenya!  We are grateful for such a wonderful and dedicated group. Most of all, we were filled with thanksgiving as we celebrated God’s faithful provision for The 1010 Project over the past 10 years!

To cap off the evening, Bruce Swanson, Director of Transformational Ventures, and I announced an exciting transition and vision for the future. We’ve accomplished a great deal in a decade of partnership with Kenyan social entrepreneurs, yet we strive to do more. The 1010 Project USA will join forces in June with T-Ventures, an organization that transforms poor communities through business development and job creation. This partnership will enhance our work and increase our impact.

Like The 1010 Project, T-Ventures respects local leadership and expertise, strives to create sustainable business models, and uses resources thoughtfully and efficiently. With this organizational strength, we will be able to serve our Kenyan and stateside partners more effectively than ever—with increased access to business education, mentoring, consulting, resources and more.

The 1010 Project USA name will dissolve and I will join the T-Ventures team. The 1010 Project-Kenya is now an established non-profit organization in Kenya and its work will continue. My new position at T-Ventures allows me to focus on serving alongside innovative Kenyan leaders–and to facilitate opportunities for others to do the same. Josephine will remain as country director of The 1010 Project Kenya, and together we will strive to grow and thrive, to accomplish the goals set by 1010 Kenya leadership.

Service Learning Experience 2009

On this new leg of our journey, we need your support. The capacity-building and business development we will continue in Kenya requires a lot of time, resources, and know-how, and there are many ways to be involved.

We humbly and prayerfully ask you to continue your financial and volunteer partnerships with us toward a future filled with stronger schools, community organizations and businesses. Donations through T-Ventures’ parent organization, WorldVenture, can be earmarked specifically for enterprise development in Kenya. We guarantee that they will be used in the same manner in which you give: responsibly and with great care.

erace poverty teamAs Bruce said at the event, the success of this transition will be dependent on ALL of us–not just “us” the staff of Transformational Ventures, but also you, our invaluable network of friends and partners.

We are indeed stronger, and more abundantly blessed, together.

  Anticipating an amazing decade ahead and eager to share the journey with you,

In Faith and With Gratitude,

Melissa Schaap

1010 T-Ventures Stronger Together

The 1010 Project’s 10-Year Celebration!

April 30th, 2013

You are invited to The 1010 Project’s 10-Year Celebration!

invitation.3

Please RSVP by May 1st at:
http://the1010project.pingg.com/10yearanniversary

Greenhouse Grant for Humble Hearts

The 1010 Project is excited to announce that we have been awarded a grant from the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation that will fund a greenhouse for Humble Hearts School for the Deaf! The greenhouse will provide a nutritional food source for the students, a sustainable revenue stream for the school, and training opportunities for many of the students.

beatrice_and_the_poultry_expert_show_us_the_chicken_coop

While a portion of the produce grown will be used to feed the school’s students, the majority will be sold, creating a dependable and sustainable source of income. The greenhouse will function as a hands-on classroom where students interested in agriculture will learn under the guidance of a professional horticulturalist. By overseeing the production of farm goods from seed to market, students will gain valuable job skills training in agricultural production as well as business development.

Humble Hearts aims to use a portion of the profits saved over multiple harvests to purchase at least one more greenhouse. Beatrice envisions that the two greenhouses will help stabilize the financial status of the school, allowing them to continue to improve the facilities and admit some of the students on its waiting list. Additionally, she hopes to employ some of her graduating students within the greenhouses so that they might save money for college or gain practical skills to start businesses of their own. “We feel so humbled and blessed to have such great minds working with us,” says Beatrice. “I personally feel like am entering into a higher learning level. This project feels different from anything I have done before. I look forward to being guided by God and all who are assisting with this project both here in Kenya and in the US. God bless.”

Wrapped in Hope: Rehema Day Care and Orphans Centre

March 8th, 2013

Update: Rehema Day Care and Orphans Centre

Rehema Group ShotRehema Day Care and Orphans Centre is a community-based organization that serves over 600 impoverished children and orphans in Korogocho, the third-largest slum in Nairobi. Rehema is a haven within the community where children can come for encouragement, empowerment, protection, and skills development. Erastus Omukhango, the Director of Rehema, has made it his life’s work to fight against poverty and advocate for the rights and needs of the children he serves.

Over the past ten years, Rehema has engaged in a variety of income-generating activities to fund its operational costs. These IGAs include tailoring and dressmaking, carpentry training, and fish farming outside of Nairobi. Currently, Rehema is operating a scarf-making business, which has received a warm reception by the community. Erastus reports that the scarves have a ready market and anticipates that sales will continue to grow.

Rehema ScarvesErastus has also been developing a proposal for selling chicken eggs to the community. In addition to generating revenue, a consistent egg supply would allow Rehema to provide more nutritious and substantial meals for the children it assists.

Season of Love: February Updates

February 8th, 2013

Thank you for all your love and support of The 1010 Project throughout 2012 and the holiday season! We are excited for a great 2013, and the continued growth of our partners in Kenya.

humble hearts and peace!At the January meeting of our Kenyan partners, Humble Hearts School for the Deaf announced that the extra revenue from the poultry project has allowed them to launch a liquid soap making business.  Amos, who runs the poultry project, can now afford to send his 3 children to school. DSCN1496Humble Hearts is working to expand the number of chickens to increase their profit margins.  They have plans to begin a loaning system for Humble Hearts graduates to improve their livelihoods and save money for college. They are also planning to make Humble Hearts a learning resource center and provide trainers at a minimal fee to assist others in startup poultry activities. Talk about spreading the love!

The 1010 Project has some exciting plans in the works both stateside and in Kenya  and we can’t wait to share them with you!  Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!

Shop for a Cause Sales Increase to $33,000!

December 18th, 2012

beadforlifeAt The 1010 Project, we love it when a plan comes together, and this year’s Shop for a Cause came together as a resounding success! On November 30th and December 1st, nearly 700 people passed through Denver First Church to discover unique gifts, learn about fair trade, and support a huge range of organizations on the front lines working toward market-based solutions to end global poverty. Many of these organizations address social issues in the Denver area as well. We were encouraged and inspired that so many people decided to use their holiday purchasing power to make a difference in the hearts of communities around the world.

The foundation for our event was laid by our 49 amazing vendors, each with their own mission, who banded together to show their support for socially conscious business and economic empowerment. The vendors represent artisans and organizations in Kenya, Haiti, Nicaragua, Uganda, Nepal, India, Peru, right here in Denver, and a dozen more regions across the globe. Unlike the usual holiday shopping rush, customers at Shop for a Cause had the opportunity to learn about the people who made their gifts and to be inspired by their stories.

The same spirit of learning and collaboration was also the driving force behind Saturday’s Seminar, entitled ‘Make a Difference!’ The panel was moderated by Stacy Edgar, the award-winning founder of Global Girlfriend, and featured Connie Stevinson of Trading for Treasures, Angela Yost of Threads International, Susan Kiely of Women with a Cause, and our very own Executive Director Melissa Schaap. The women reflected on how their once-simple pursuits had quickly become much bigger than themselves, and how the world can really be changed by large groups of people doing small things, such as purchasing and promoting fair trade products.dsenyo

Friday featured exciting live performances by singer/songwriter duo Jason and Denise, and by the incredible Dr. Biff and the Smokehouse Blues Band.

We would like to thank Denver First Church for lending their space, and the dozens of volunteers that started working hours and even days before we opened the doors to help make this collaborative event possible!

And, of course, thank you to the Denver community for using the holiday season to help break the cycle of poverty! We are so glad to have had the opportunity to make new connections with many of you, and to catch up with our long-time friends.

Thank you for showing us that amazing movements need only to start from the simple desire to make a difference. We look forward to seeing everyone at the Sixth Annual Shop for a Cause next year!  And remember, you have easy access to most of these amazing vendors all year long by visiting our Shop for a Cause page where you will find live links to all of their websites.

The 5th Annual Shop for a Cause by the numbers:

49 Vendors
670 Attendees
50+ Volunteers and hundreds of volunteer hours
22,600+ Items sold
$33,000+ – Revenue from this year’s Shop for a Cause
$22,000 – Revenue from last year’s Shop for a Cause

All of the money raised for The 1010 Project from the market will provide ongoing business education and seed capital to our partners in Kenya, equipping them to build businesses that strengthen their schools and community organizations.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 20th, 2012
chickens at humble hearts

From chicks (left) to full-grown (right)!

This Thanksgiving, we are especially thankful for each of you! You are a vital part of The 1010 Project Network! Asante sana to our volunteers, interns, strategic business partners, prayer team members, and financial partners! Together we are creating strength and sustainability with our partners in Kenya. One of the income-generating activities that received a STEP (Stronger Together Empowerment Program) loan this past summer is producing a profit just in time for Thanksgiving! Humble Hearts School for the Deaf expanded their poultry project and the chickens are now ready to grace plates at the school and to sell to area hotels!

chickens ready for market or meals

That’s a lot of chicken

It’s wonderful that the chickens were ready to be sold right at Thanksgiving time! Here’s a picture of the full-grown birds. And of course an obligatory shot of the market-ready meat! Not all of the chicken will be sold, though; some of it will go back into the diets of students at Humble Hearts, thus providing a dual benefit.

 

Come Learn About Fair Trade at “Shop for a Cause!” November 30th and December 1st

October 26th, 2012

Things have been busy as ever here at The 1010 Project, as we are in the thick of planning for a very exciting upcoming event, Shop for a Cause: Shop. Learn. Make a Difference. We are very grateful to our partners for the event, Compleat Gourmet and Gifts and Come, Let’s Dance. Come, Let’s Dance will bring their “Enkya” exhibit, which features powerful photography and an interactive “taste” of life in Uganda.

gourmet and cld logo

The event, which will feature over 35 vendors selling a variety of unique locally and internationally-made items, will be held from 4-7 on Friday, November 30th and 10-4 on Saturday, December 1st, at Denver First Church of the Nazarene, 3800 East Hampden Avenue, Englewood, CO 80113 (one block west of Colorado Blvd).

Come early to shop on Friday evening and stay for some amazing live music at 7 pm. featuring Dr. Biff and the Smokehouse Blues Band  followed by Jason and Denise.  On Saturday, November 1st, Stacey Edgar, nationally-recognized social entrepreneur, author, and founder of the organization “Global Girlfriend” will be the keynote speaker and moderator of a panel discussion and break-out conversations from 11:00-1:00 . Food, chai and coffee will be available for purchase throughout the event.

The market will feature a wide variety of local and international products such as: scarves, hammocks,  jewelry, home goods, bags, clothing, greeting cards, soap, calendars, bowls, headbands, coasters, ornaments, frames, vases, cloths, children’s items, olive oil, chocolate, coffee, chai and more! Find the event on Facebook and invite your friends!

Shop for a Cause is a very important event for The 1010 Project. Our proceeds from the event will be used to provide ongoing business education and seed capital (through our revolving loan fund) to our partners in Kenya, equipping them to build businesses that strengthen their schools and community organizations.

We would absolutely love to see you — come to purchase with a purpose and learn about economic empowerment and socially-conscious business. These are two fundamental tenets of The 1010 Project’s mission, as we seek to give and share abundantly. Eat great food, and enjoy the live music! If you are interested in volunteering at this event, please click here. And thank you very sincerely, as always, for your support of The 1010 Project!

Here is a summary of the details (a more expanded version with a list of vendors appears here):

When:

The Market will be open:
4pm-7 pm on Friday, November 30th
10am-4pm on Saturday, December 1st

Live Music Dr. Biff and the Smokehouse Blues Band  followed by Jason and Denise.
7 pm, Friday, November 30

Panel Discussion with Stacey Edgar (author of Global Girlfriend)
11:00 am-1:00 pm, Saturday, December 1st
Boxed lunches available for purchase from Cafe 180

Where:
Denver First Church of the Nazarene
3800 East Hampden Avenue, Englewood, CO 80113 (one block west of Colorado Blvd)

We hope to see you there!

Melissa’s Marathon in Kenya – Miles 20-26

October 5th, 2012

UPDATED: The end of the marathon has prompted a new challenge along with a $20,000 grant! Read all about it at our latest newsletter.

MILE #20: Hammocks and Network Connections

soco hammock

SoCo hammock with Fair Oak student

Remember the SOCO Hammock? Chris, the co-founder of this brilliant “social profit” business donated a hammock for me to take to Kenya! It was so fun to play with the kids from Fair Oak School one afternoon after a long day of meetings. The kids loved it! They were thrilled to find out that this hammock will stay at their school for special supervised play times. I can’t help but think that just as a hammock creates a safe and strong space as it is hung between two solid points, our current 1010 Project Network creates a safe and strong space by connecting leaders of schools and other organizations that are serving their communities where access to resources and information is limited.

hammock

I think they’re trying to count 10-10 fingers

From a business perspective, being a part of the 1010 Project Network means that these community leaders share their professional resources, contacts, and expertise with each other. They also share lessons learned and how to be more successful in their various income-generating activities. I also think about connections between doing what we love to do, figuring out a way to get paid for it (or create a business opportunity out of it) and then figuring out a way to use it to serve others.

Mile #21: Wilfrieda’s Passion Drives Her Driving School

tabitha wilfrieda melissa

Tabitha, Melissa, and Wilfrieda

We were welcomed with traditional dancing and singing that got our hearts pumping! Then, after a delicious dinner my conversation with Wilfrieda made my heart race with joy. Wilfrieda owns a driving school. She has recently expanded to two locations. She is a driven business woman. She is driven, in part, because she is passionate about supporting the children’s home (Arye Theatre– formerly Siritani) that her sister-in-law, Tabitha runs. Tabitha and Arye Theatre have been part of the 1010 network for many years. Wilfrieda has committed to donate a percentage of her profits to Tabitha’s Arye Theatre. She exemplifies what we hope to see more of in these communities – both in the country/rural areas and in urban informal settlements. Successful, business-minded leaders who are committed to seeing their local schools, orphanages, and other community organizations thrive.

Analyzing the book of business at Tabitha's salon

Analyzing the book of business at Tabitha’s salon

We enjoyed a wonderful – albeit too brief – visit in Malanga (the new location of Arye Theatre Children’s Home). Tabitha has also started a salon near the school. Many of the kids from her children’s home are able to have their hair done at the salon which saves money. This relatively new salon is growing steadily and Tabitha predicts it will soon be profitable. All of the profits will be used to care for and feed the 35+ children who live at the Arye Theatre Children’s Home!

Mile #22: Joyce from MOCASO– No More Bead Rolling. We’re Ready to Ramp it UP!

mocaso

MOCASO’s work

“I’m done rolling these beads” Joyce declared as she ran her hand over a pile of recycled paper beads with both distain and determination. You’ve all seen this type of bead: colorful paper remnants made into bracelets, necklaces, earrings. They are ubiquitous in the United States, multihued displays accompanied by cards describing how the bead-rolling has helped people, usually women, escape poverty and/or build a better life. We are not questioning the integrity or benefit of these projects, but Joyce put it plainly: everyone makes them. The market is saturated, demand for the beads is falling, and subsequently return on the labor is lower. It’s time for something new. With better business understanding from the Global Entrepreneur Academy and observing her fellow 1010 Project partners’ new IGA proposals, Joyce has caught the vision for something bigger than beads. She is researching possible projects, analyzing her current location in the Kamukunji market and what might sell better at trade shows. We were thrilled to brainstorm and talk about different possibilities with Joyce, who has already steered MOCASO into tie-dye, creating vibrantly hued sheet sets out of plain, secondhand white sheets. Joyce is savvy and believes, as we do, that MOCASO is ready for a larger income-generating project. Joyce is a strong, driven, feisty and compassionate lady. For a bit more back story on her and MOCASO, read our former Executive Director Adam Delp’s blog about her here. MOCASO is improving the quality of life for people who are HIV positive – over 500 men and women plus about 230 orphans. We are incredibly eager to hear what new project Joyce chooses, and encouraged her to utilize the knowledge and experience of the 1010 Project Network to keep MOCASO strong and growing in the community.

mocaso tie-dye

MOCASO’s wonderful tie-dye

 

Mile #23 – Humble Hearts School – Profitable Poultry Project and the Amazing Anundas!

You are probably familiar with The 1010 Project’s longtime partner Humble Hearts School, of which Beatrice Anunda is the director (see Mile #11 for a story on how The  1010 Network’s partnerships have brought a new student to Humble Hearts). Beatrice is an exceptional woman, and when meeting her family you are likely to be simultaneously surprised, because they are all extraordinary, yet not surprised at all, because after spending five minutes with Beatrice it seems logical that her family would also be exceptional. The new superheroes of Nairobi: The Amazing Anundas. Although Melissa and I were fortunate to spend an afternoon with the Anundas, we were especially happy to get a feel for the impact of Beatrice’s mother, Doreen, and younger sister, Nelly, on the school through a few visits to Humble Hearts. Doreen is a visionary who raised her children to be strong, hard-working, and giving. She founded Humble Heats in the courtyard space behind her home, gradually moving into bigger buildings as the school’s numbers grew. Humble Heart’s previous school building was in the Sinai settlement, but was demolished early in 2010when the area was cleared overnight for a pipeline project. Yet there is no defeating the Amazing Anundas, who relocated the school and have been expanding it ever since, continually guided by Doreen’s vision and service.

Beatrice and some Humble Hearts students - ready to ROCK!

Beatrice and some Humble Hearts students – ready to ROCK!

Nelly has a teaching degree (including special training for working with deaf children) and is much more than just a teacher at Humble Hearts. Nelly provides the sign language translation for the children’s church services, assists with school finances, and together with Doreen and Beatrice oversees the poultry project. Although Humble Hearts employs a worker to provide direct care for the chickens, such as immunizations, feeding, and heat control, Doreen, Nelly and Beatrice handle the program’s overall operation. Humble Hearts School received a loan (about $1,700 US dollars) from The 1010 Project’s STEP fund (revolving loan program)  to expand their poultry project. Humble Hearts had already undertaken a pilot project with 50 chicks to determine such details as feeding, immunizations, profitability and necessary labor. Based on the success of the pilot project, the Anundas wanted to expand to fill orders from larger companies. Before submitting the proposal they had been in talks with Alpha, a large meat processor, to fill an order of 300 chickens; all they needed was the initial capital to purchase such a large order of chicks.

poultry project

Cages for chickens at Humble Hearts

While the chickens bring in both revenue and a protein supply for Humble Hearts School, they also provide an added learning experience for the kids. Students are able to observe a well-functioning income-generating activity, learn about the basic principles of business, and see that responsibility, hard work and consistency bring future rewards. Not only are the Anundas keeping the school strong, they are also serving as extraordinary role models for the students at Humble Hearts.

Mile #24 – LOMORO & Achungo Centre

Achungo Centre

Achungo Centre


Michael Nyangi inspires and educates everyone in The 1010 Project Network. The founder of Lomoro leads by example – Michael opened Achungo Centre in Rodi, the Homa Bay area, and is using his strong leadership skills and funding acumen to run it with excellence. Homa Bay is a rural area with a high incidence of HIV/AIDS; many of the school-aged children in Homa Bay are cared for by grandparents. Achungo Centre is a school that also offers a small dormitory for orphaned boys and tries to place orphaned girls with local families. Achungo Centre is a bright, clean, and well-constructed place. The school cooks many of its meals with a true solar cooker (no solar cells charging batteries, rather a parabolic dish that concentrates the sun’s rays) and have environmentally friendly toilets built to specifications from UN Habitat.

UN toilets

UN toilets at Achungo

Nyangi is the first person I’ve ever described as being awesome with respect to toilets. Last year, UN Habitat was giving grants to build these particular toilets, but only in densely populated urban areas in the developing world. After learning about the project, Nyangi thought the toilets would be useful at his school, despite its rural location, and managed to get his hands on the specifications. He secured private, non-UN funding for the toilets and had them built exactly to specifications by a contractor who had previously worked for UN Habitat. Once completed, he submitted the entire project to the UN to request retroactive funding, which could then be used to build additional toilets among his various other projects in Homa Bay. He is currently awaiting UN Habitat’s funding decision, but is very optimistic the project will be reimbursed and duplicated.

Nyangi directly challenges laziness – he encourages hard work and working together as a community. His personal story is a testament to those values, and worthy of its own post. He’s constantly working for his community, juggling numerous projects by networking, connecting, delegating and earning the respect of everyone he meets.

Mile #25: Hope in Homa Bay – Fish Farms for Youth, Training the Trainers

by Brenna

Near the end of our road trip to western Kenya we spent some time in Homa Bay, home of Lomoro founder Michael Nyangi. Michael introduced us to the microfinance groups that had been trained by a 1010 Project Microfinance Training participant, Maurice Odiembo. It was incredible to see the large number of people who had been trained in microfinance concepts by a single community member. As part of our capacity-building objective, The 1010 Project works to ‘train the trainers’ – equipping community leaders to effectively disseminate business education to anyone in the community who wants to learn. Between the two group meetings, with multiple microfinance groups at each meeting, there were at least 100 people present!

Fish farming in Homa Bay

Fish farming in Homa Bay

After seeing The 1010 Project’s microfinance training appeal to and reach so many people in the Homa Bay area through Maurice’s hard work, we are encouraged at the possibility of expanding the Global Entrepreneur Academy to Homa Bay. While meeting with the microfinance groups many people voiced their desire for more thorough training in other business concepts, including a comprehensive curriculum and completion certificate that holds value as an indicator of the business training. There is a clear desire for the GEA in Homa Bay, and we are excited to work toward equipping more people with GEA business education and continue ‘training the trainers’!

Mile #26: Yes, I Crossed the Finish Line!

For those who have been wondering, I have been back in the States for 2 weeks now. And it still feels surreal. “Reverse culture shock” is a bit of an understatement. Many of you have been through this and know exactly what I’m talking about.

melissa family

Melissa and the family

Shane and the girls picked me up at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. What a “finish line” moment that was for me! To have Leyna run full speed, launch herself into my arms and latch on to me with one of her famous “koala hugs” and not let go for a very long time – indescribable. Kaya’s sweet smile, huge hug and sincere “I really missed you, mom” touched my heart deeply. And then, at the risk of stating the obvious and being way too “soap opera” here: truly, being back in Shane’s arms, no words needed, just the understood communication with our eyes, a warm kiss (Leyna exclaiming, “oooooh YUCK!” to break the mood of the moment), big bear hug, and placing my hand in his after a very long 26 days away. Thank you Lord for bringing me back safely so I can share these precious days with my family. We’re far from perfect – every one of us – but we are so thankful for each other! And I can honestly say we all have a renewed appreciation for being together after being apart for so many weeks. We drove from Chicago up to Holland, Michigan for 10 days to reconnect as a family, to be with my side of the family, get over jet lag, and begin reflecting on my marathon learning/working journey in Kenya. The beach along Lake Michigan is a powerfully wonderful place to do that. I don’t take any of this for granted. I’m pretty good at apologizing, so I’m going to do it again. Sorry for my silence. Yet again, it’s been difficult for me to write a “public blog” as I process through everything. Interesting to try to “unplug,” rest, and recuperate while still having so much on my heart and brain that I can’t just “turn off”. I’ll also admit it was difficult for me to stop thinking about everything I left undone before I departed for Kenya, everything that needs to be done upon my return; all the loose ends, all the “should haves” and “should be doings” with which I continue to struggle. And at the same time, I needed to catch up on sleep, I needed “snuggle time” with my girls, I needed that time with Shane (and my immediate family, too) away from our every day life routine that awaited us back here in Denver. I deeply regret not having enough time in MI to reconnect with many dear friends in West Michigan – you know who you are! Please know how much I still love you all and how sad I was to not be able to see you…hopefully I’ll be back sooner rather than later to be able to spend some quality time catching up with you in person! No doubt, capturing and processing such intensely wonderful experiences takes time… I am reminded that this is why the “due dates” for our University of Denver International Service Learning students’ capstone projects were always a minimum of a few weeks after they had returned from their in-country experience. So, yes, I am back. Yes, I am getting back in the swing of things. Yes, I am processing. And yes, the final “half marathon” of blogs posts and pictures and (not-so-great-quality iPhone) video clips are almost finished and ready to go live! And yes, we still have a goal to raise $26,000 to continue the incredible work of social entrepreneurs that I witnessed first-hand during my “working marathon” in Kenya! Thanks to your generosity, we’re almost 1/4 of the way to our goal – we’ve raised over $5,500! Asante Sana for running this marathon with me – but with great patience for my delayed communication! Stay tuned for future updates from the past! I’m also looking forward to meeting with many of you to share some of these exciting stories in person and to hear about your summer adventures and what you are learning/have learned throughout yourown marathon journeys this summer!

Melissa’s Marathon in Kenya – Miles 10-19

August 9th, 2012

If you missed Miles 1-9, you can find them here.

Mile #10:  Getting A Feel For the Context

Guest Mile from Brenna

Josephine and Brenna leaving Rehema

Josephine and Brenna leaving Rehema

Habari Yako! (Brenna here again.) After a number of car trips and matatu rides, I seem to be getting a feel for our part of Nairobi, Eastlands, where we are in Tassia-Embakasi, how to get to Matopeni or Kayole. It’s been interesting to see some things I’ve studied in my classes appear on the street: the ubiquity of the mobile banking platform M-Pesa, which I am thrilled to have activated on my phone; inconsistency in utility services; microcredit agencies; telecom giant Safaricom; and perpetual construction, or building room by room, floor by floor as capital is available, as interest rates can be prohibitively high.

I have read how infrastructure is an impediment to development in many parts of Africa, which I only superficially understood until we traversed the roads of Nairobi and quasi-roads of places like Mathare or Mukuru Kwanjenga, Irrespective of traffic issues, which put my former residence of Houston, Texas to shame, the roads themselves are bumpy to say the least. Two descriptions of bouncing around in a car (or matatu) have struck me: you are always ‘dancing’ while in the car, and riding in a car is a workout keeping yourself upright, no need to go to a gym.

We’ve also experienced water shortages that required getting water from Redeemed Gospel Church’s well. (A personal thank you to Northside Christian Church in Spring, Texas for funding the pump and well. It has provided a lot of water for us this past week as the water was out at the Chavaseki’s home. [Note: If anyone is interested in funding a generator and/or purification system for the well to turn it into an income generating activity, please contact Tim or Melissa at The 1010 Project!]

well at redeemed

The new well at Redeemed

Yet our inconvenience is low compared to the lines of people waiting at the well to transport jerry cans of water by foot back to their homes.

There seems to be a kind of Kenyan patience that accommodates these daily issues. As I wrote in my previous post, I am continually impressed with the strength and purpose of all the Partners in the face of both daily inconveniences and extreme hardship. Things I’ve studied in school provide a context for The 1010 Project’s work, but the relationships, network, and hope of the 1010 Network here in Kenya are the bigger learning experience.

 

Mile #11: 1010 Network Power!

Sheilah and Beatrice at Humble hearts

Sheilah and Beatrice at Humble hearts

Listening to and observing what has happened as a result of The 1010 Kenya Network over the years makes me smile. Meeting on a monthly basis, this network of community leaders shares resources, ideas, and information about their income-generating activities, as well as about how they run their schools or other community-based organizations (CBOs) to make them stronger and to better serve their constituents and communities.

We’ve witnessed many concrete examples of this even as we’ve been here over the past couple of weeks. We will write about some of these from a business perspective in upcoming blog posts. Today I want to share a more personal example.
Remember I mentioned Sheilah in Mile 3 when we first arrived and went to Beatrice’s house?

Sheilah is deaf. For the past 10 years, she has been ostracized at home. As a deaf child living in the Western rural area of Busia, she had no access to education, to say nothing of social interaction. Somehow Tabitha (Arye Children’s Home) found out about her. Because Tabitha knew Beatrice and Humble Hearts School for the Deaf through the 1010 Network, she was able to bring Sheilah to this beautiful place. She will now be in a loving, nurturing environment where she will receive a solid education, learn sign language, interact with hundreds of other kids (both hearing and non-hearing), and have a new hope for her future.

poultry program at HH

Poultry program at Humble Hearts

The 1010 Network provided a significant link that will change the course of Sheilah’s life forever. Beatrice’s and Nelly’s generous and loving hearts and the way they and the rest of their family run Humble Hearts School (see future blog post) will impact Sheilah’s life even more. Now THAT’s a powerful and abundant life giving network!

 

Mile #12: From Japan to Kenya – almost 20 years later

Speaking of connections…When I first met Daniel in 1993, he was 5 years old and living with his (expat) parents in Tokyo, Japan. I was living in Saitama (to the north of Tokyo) teaching English. Somehow I found out that Daniel’s parents were leading an excellent worship service in English. I remember how much I used to love worshiping with them. I never minded the hour+ train ride to get there in order to be fed spiritually while I was living in Japan.

Daniel has completed his university studies and is a bright, ambitious social entrepreneur launching his business career right here in Kenya. The interesting thing about his business concept is that he offers “clean solution” products such as water purifiers, clean cooking stoves, and solar powered lights that meet the needs of and serve the emerging market of the global poor. Daniel and his company, Affirm Global, have a goal to train and equip 500 “Last Mile Entrepreneurs” over the next 2 years. There is the potential for this to be an excellent business opportunity for some of our partners or for qualified people in their networks.

Brenna and I had a fun and fascinating meeting with Daniel and are now making plans for him to give an informational presentation to our The 1010 Project’s Network partners in August.

 

Mile #13 – Halfway Mark – Shifting to Retroactive/Reflective Blogging

Alright. Confession time. Blogging has been tremendously difficult for me. I’ve pretty much bombed out on doing it daily, as I had intended to do.

I’ve mapped it out. I’ve made tons of notes. I’ve brainstormed. I’ve started many entries.

However, I’ve had trouble with technology. I’ve struggled with how to capture everything I’m learning and experiencing. We’ve had long days in the field and after eating dinner at about 9 pm and then talking with Pastor Brown, Josephine, and Brenna, and then trying to call Shane and the girls, I’m wiped out. I’ve succumbed to exhaustion as an excuse for not completing blogs as I would fall asleep sitting up on the Chavaseki’s couch with their 3 new baby kittens curled up on my lime green slippers or sitting up in bed with a mosquito net cascading over me.

I think this is exactly what Chuck Blakeman would call “a bad plan carried out violently.” My time here in Kenya (I left the States nearly 3 weeks ago now) has been packed with lessons learned, “Ah ha” moments, and tons of “BFOs” (Blind Flashes of the Obvious). BFOs are yet another concept from Chuck’s 3to5 group.

Much of what I want to share is captured on video and in pictures, but I’ve been frustrated because I don’t have access to an efficient and cost effective way to get these uploaded so I can share them with you.

My solution and resolution: I will still submit 26 blog posts (with some continued assistance from our intern, Brenna). I am committed to capturing my 26.2 day working marathon with at least 26 blog entries. I will just have to accomplish this goal with the concession that blogging every day and getting the info uploaded to the internet has been much harder than I had expected it to be. Therefore, this is now an official “retroactive/reflective blog” rather than a “raw, in-the-moment, real-time” blog.

I am excited about every step I’ve taken during this 26 day “working marathon”! Our days have been packed with fascinating field visits to our partners. We have been asking hard questions and thinking creatively about solutions; challenging our assumptions; engaging in motivating and challenging conversations; dreaming and strategic planning; weeping over the injustice of poverty one minute, and the next minute being inspired by the many we have met who exude inexplicable generosity, hope, faith, resilience, tenacity, wisdom, leadership, love and an abundant mindset.

It is pure joy to run this race and to run it strong. All thanks goes to my “Coach” and to the wonderful “running partners” He has provided. We have a solid 1010 Project team here on the ground – and I continue to gain much strength from them. I also feel tremendous support from each of you. Thanks for your patience and for following along! I am grateful to each of you for “running” this with me and the rest of The 1010 Project team!

In addition to the blogging lagging behind, we are also behind on our goal to raise $26,000! I am not giving up on this goal either! In fact, I am all the more inspired to share with you how my time here is helping me focus, strategize, and gain a new confidence in what is happening here as a result of The 1010 Project’s initiatives and approach. I am eager to share with you the value, power, and impact of being a part of what we are doing and how we are doing it, and I invite you to invest in The 1010 Project to grow this with us. Members of The 1010 Network are following and taking part in this – not only in Kenya, not only in the US, but also in Nepal, Germany, Uganda, Japan, and around the globe!

 

Mile #14: Meet “Mama 1010”

Peter and Patrick and the tailoring project at Waithaka Baptist School

Josephine with Peter at Waithaka School

Mama Immanuel. Mama Peter. Pastor. Mama 1010. Josie.

These are all names for Josephine Chavaseki, Country Director of The 1010 Project, Kenya. In Kenya they often call moms by the names of their kids – so, for example, Josie sometimes calls me “Mama Kaya” or “Mama Leyna.” Josie is the biological mom of her two sons: Immanuel (14) and Peter (8 1/2), and she is the wife of Pastor Brown (yes, that is his first name). Together they founded and lead Redeemed Gospel Church and Fair Oak School.

I have spent almost 6 weeks living and working very closely with Josephine (nearly 3 weeks in Denver and Houston back in Feb/March and over 3 weeks in Kenya). We have “officially” been colleagues for just over a year. She has been on staff with The 1010 Project since the fall of 2010. We talk on the phone about once/week or every other week.

I wish each of you could get to know Josephine personally. Let me try to capture the beautiful woman God has created her to be and all that she does in her role as the Country Director of The 1010 Project, Kenya.

“Mama 1010” exemplifies warmth, wisdom, hospitality, humility, encouragement, passion and compassion. She’s a Networker. Negotiator. Meeting leader. Facilitator. Public Speaker. She “shepherds” the current 1010 Project Network in Kenya. All of this falls under the overarching umbrella of being a powerful prayer warrior who walks with Jesus and gains her strength and motivation for service from (and for) God and Him alone.

Josie loves people. Plain and simple. She genuinely cares about them. She loves to see them transformed. Even more, she loves to see them become change agents in their communities. She looks at a classroom of kids – no matter what their socio-economic level – and sees a classroom of current and future world changers. She looks at a circle of community-based organization (CBO) leaders and she sees community changers. She looks at a group of small business owners and she sees social entrepreneurs.

“Let’s equip them!” she says, “Encourage them! Educate them! Let’s unlock their potential so they can be powerful change agents in their homes, churches, schools, communities, cities, countries, continents and around the world!” It is exactly because she cares about people and loves to see them identify and realize their unique giftedness and potential, that she has been so dedicated to studying and working hard over the years to really listen to and understand them. Josie has studied the psychology, sociology, and systems that are integral to long lasting change through holistic approaches to community development. She understands the importance of analyzing the landscape of the situation and can put things in context. She is also more than willing to stop and explain things to me from a cultural context to help me understand.

josephine at VOH

Josephine visiting Vessel of Hope School

I am extremely grateful for her patience with me and for all that she has taught me. And for all the prayers she has prayed over me, The 1010 Project, each of our community leaders and all the people who are served through the 1010 Network.

No doubt, Josie is Patient. Gentle. Kind. But Josephine can also be tough and strong when she needs to be. It was fun to watch how bold (yet diplomatic) she was with the matatu drivers and so many others who would try to charge her higher prices because she was with two “mzungus” (foreigners). It’s true! Josephine had to bargain harder with all the vendors as soon as they would see Brenna and me with her – sugar cane, cabbage, potatoes—you name it, the prices immediately escalated with two white foreigners in the car or walking with her.

Indeed, Josie has a beautiful quiet strength about her. She speaks with ease and eloquence and with great encouragement. Whether she is speaking to a classroom of students or to a circle of entrepreneurial women or “one to one” with a successful professional, Josie knows exactly what to say to them – and exactly how to say it.

Josephine also loves to think strategically. She has been leading the way for us to become relentlessly focused on unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of each of the 1010 Network of community leaders and social entrepreneurs. So, if you ever have a chance to spend time with Josephine, don’t miss it. You will be inspired, encouraged, motivated, and abundantly blessed. Most of all, you will be enriched with Jesus’ love through her spunky spirit, beautiful voice (singing and speaking), soulful rhythm, and incredibly infectious, joyful laugh!

Your generous financial support of The 1010 Project helps us fund Josephine’s salary.

 

Mile #15: Towards Stronger, Sustainable Schools and CBOs

Useful VOCAB:

1. CBO = Community-Based Organization: an all-inclusive term referring to organizations that are recognized by the government such as schools, children’s homes, microfinance institutions, organizations that empower people with HIV/AIDS and/or women escaping the commercial sex industry, etc.
2. GEA = Global Entrepreneur Academy: business and servant leadership training
3. IGA = Income-Generating Activity: additional revenue streams for CBOs
4. STEP = Stronger Together Empowerment Program: The 1010 Project’s revolving loan fund

Every day while I was in Kenya, Josephine, Brenna, and I met with at least one of the leaders of our ten partner schools or other CBOs. We heard again and again how training through the GEA (Global Entrepreneur Academy) or the more recent Advanced Microfinance Training offered this past spring is helping them run their schools and organizations more efficiently and effectively. Every single one of the twenty-two GEA graduates is thinking more intentionally and creatively about how to generate additional revenue streams for their schools or organizations. Many of the groups that are requesting small loans to grow or launch their own small businesses are parents and teachers affiliated with our partner schools.

Passbook cover and tea

Passbook cover and tea

The newly launched STEP fund provides the seed capital for a small group to receive loans that need to be paid back within 6 to 12 months with a flat interest rate of 10%. In order to receive a loan through the STEP fund, the small group (5 people) must first save 25% of what they plan to borrow.

We currently have 4 CBOs participating in the first round of STEP funding. Each CBO has 2-3 groups of 5 people each for a total of 55 people who will be receiving some seed capital to launch or expand their businesses.

Students benefit from the IGAs at (or near) the schools as they are exposed to this entrepreneurial spirit all around them. These leaders are becoming excellent role models for the students. Students often have the opportunity to learn additional practical skills from many of the income-generating activities like tailoring, running a peanut butter business, raising chickens, bee keeping, fish farming, etc. Many more parents are (or will hopefully be) able to pay their school fees with dignity. And The 1010 Project decreases the risk of default from people receiving their small loan and disappearing. It’s a win-win all the way around.

microfinance group in homa bay

A microfinance group in Homa Bay

With every visit I was deeply moved and inspired to see such dedicated parents and teachers working hard to generate additional income for themselves and therefore for the school (or other CBO) as a whole. Both of these will result in making their schools stronger as they change mindsets and equip school leaders, teachers, parents, and even students with the business education, practical skills, and capital to have stronger schools and a higher quality of life themselves!

 

Mile #16: Entrepreneurial Spirit! An interview with Benjamin the Tailor

mile #16 benjamin sewing fair oak track suits

Is that a contagious smile or what?

Benjamin is the head tailor at Fair Oak School’s vocational training center. He identified a niche market for track suits at area schools and he and his team of tailors are ready to sew! Once they purchase some new sewing machines and materials (with the help of The 1010 Project’s revolving loan fund), they’ll be off and running with their exponentially expanded business. The profits from these track suits will make Fair Oak School stronger – literally. The students and teachers need a more permanent structure for their school, so income-generating activities like the sewing program are very important.

Brenna, Josephine, and I visited with every partner who is ready to launch or expand their current business. We discussed marketability, product development, profitability, risk assessment, determining essential vs. non-essential equipment, etc., to help them think through business viability.

 

Mile #17: A visit and shopping stop at Jericho Market with Tumaini Pamoja

Phaustine and women with jewelry

Phaustine and women with jewelry

Phaustine’s smile is as bright as Benjamin’s! Phaustine is the founder and director of Tumaini Pamoja, which means “hope together”. Tumaini Pamoja is an empowerment and education group for those affected by or infected with HIV/AIDS. She has three groups of five women who will receive small loans to grow their businesses. The loans will ensure that they have the necessary nutrition to accompany the medicine that keeps them alive and well. It also empowers them to earn their own income to provide for their own needs, rather than be dependent on inconsistent sources of assistance.

Phaustine and Rebekah (in background)

Phaustine and Rebekah (in background)

Margaret is one of our new protégés for The 1010 Project in Kenya. It was a true joy to visit Margaret, Rebecca, and Phaustine at the Jericho Market. Their energy, determination, and service-oriented approach will indubitably take their business to the next level! Margaret spoke eloquently and enthusiastically about how the GEA trainings have impacted her perspective and approach to business. We will visit Margaret and the others again in a few months to assess business growth and the effects this is having on their quality of life.

Margaret was extremely complimentary of Josephine for organizing such applicable and motivational trainings and for the guidance Josie had provided her over the past few months. She also raved about Michael Nyangi and all that she learned from him during the Advanced Microfinance Training in April.

Of course we shopped! We all wanted to buy one of everything. We placed some customized orders that were delivered with more huge smiles and hugs after our 1010 Network Partner Reflection Meeting the Friday before I left.

 

Mile #18: Vessel of Hope – Part I: Grace’s great “ground nuts”

Students at Vessel of Hope

Students at Vessel of Hope

After four adventurous (to say the least) matatu connections, we arrived at Vessel of Hope School (on the border between the Soweto and Kayole neighborhoods) and were ushered into their “office/library” by candlelight. The electricity was out. Not an uncommon challenge faced by students and teachers during a typical school day. But in the big picture, certainly not their biggest challenge. Add to the list: their water source was recently cut off, there is not enough money coming in from school fees to purchase the rice and beans to feed their 100+ students, and teacher salaries are limited to an insufficient $37.50 per month (yes, just over $1/day!) Not to mention that they don’t have enough school supplies or proper learning conditions.

Despite these daunting obstacles, Grace, the Director of Vessel of Hope, and her tremendously dedicated staff have a renewed determination to find ways to generate income for their school and to supplement their meager salaries. They always have a representative at the 1010 Project Network meetings – often the head teacher, Sarah. Between Sarah and Grace they have completed the Global Entrepreneur Academy and Advanced Microfinance Trainings. They are eager to put their training into action! Grace and Sarah have brainstormed ideas for income- generating activities at both the individual and school level in order to launch or grow their own small businesses. These enterprises supplement their salaries and generate additional revenue for the school.

Many of them want to expand their businesses. They are already selling things like second hand clothes (matumba), vegetables, or kitchen products. Grace herself roasts delicious peanuts that she sells in little sealed bags for 10 “bob” (10 Kenyan Schillings = about 12 cents). We all sampled Grace’s protein packed “ground nuts” and unanimously concluded that they taste far better than any of the peanuts we bought at the store.

Michael Nyangi in Homa Bay

Michael Nyangi in Homa Bay

We’ve learned from Michael Nyangi (LOMORO) and others that one of the biggest challenges with microloans is ensuring you can trust the people to whom you are loaning money. Too often people will take the money and take off.

Therefore, loaning to teachers and/or parents connected with a school is a good idea. When small groups of teachers and parents of our partner schools work together, they can encourage each other and push each other forward to achieve their business goals, increase income, and guarantee long term sustainability for the school.

 

Mile #19: Vessel of Hope (Part II) – A Sticky-Sweet Decision Making Process

Guest mile by Brenna

Vessel of Hope

Vessel of Hope

When we visited Vessel of Hope School, we learned more about their proposal for a loan to increase the cake-baking capacity of the school through the purchase of an electric oven and more cake pans and ingredients.

Celine, a teacher at the school, bakes in between her teaching duties. Celine learned to bake from a friend who had gone to baking school and really enjoys it. Yet her current method of baking is time-consuming, labor-intensive, expensive/inefficient, and unhealthy.

The method: A large pot is partially filled with sand and heated over a charcoal fire. Once it reaches sufficient temperature, the cupcake (or queen cakes as they are called here) pan with batter is placed in the pot and covered. Celine must keep checking the fire to ensure (relatively) correct temperature. Vessels of Hope has five baking pans and only one pan of cupcakes can be baked at a time, which takes about 40 minutes to cook.

With an electric oven, Celine can bake multiple pans at one time, guarantee consistent temperature, and use the more efficient, cleaner and safer electric method rather than tending a charcoal fire.

Grace, the director of Vessel of Hope, and Celine are confident that there is a ready market for the cupcakes. They’ve tested the market by making small batches of the cake (via the sand pot method) and have had great success in sales. If they are able to scale up the operation, they can sell to both the local market as well as nearby supermarkets.

The added income will help pay teachers’ salaries (about $37.50 USD per teacher/month) in addition to supplementing the feeding program for the children. Teacher salaries are inconsistently paid as revenue is derived from student fees. Those fees are also inconsistently paid due to parents’ minimal opportunities for income-generating activity in these areas. Additionally, many students are orphans and pay no fees.

While the Kenyan government offers free primary education, government schools are located too far away from many of the slum areas, effectively negating ‘free’ education for large portions of the population.

Melissa raised the question of providing a nutritious food product to the community rather than cupcakes, given the unpredictable food availability for many children. This led Grace and the Vessel of Hope team to a discussion of developing a proposal for a loan for a peanut butter machine (peanut grinder). Grace and the teachers believed there is also a ready market for peanut butter.

Currently, many people from the area travel to other neighborhoods to purchase peanut butter. If Vessel of Hope purchased a peanut butter machine, they could sell a nutritious product, community members wouldn’t have to travel as far to purchase peanut butter, and the machine would generate money for the school. It was also discussed that if a parent was unable to pay their child’s school fees, s/he could work at the peanut butter machine (selling peanut butter) for a day or the equivalent of what was needed to pay the fees.

Vessel of Hope is a great example of the IGA proposals being submitted to receive funding from The 1010 Project’s revolving loan fund. We were impressed not only with Vessel of Hope’s current proposal for cupcakes, but also their rapid and fruitful brainstorming session on other income-generating projects, and how the projects could improve and build on one another. Peanut butter cupcakes, anyone?

 

 

 

Melissa’s Marathon In Kenya – Miles 1-9

July 12th, 2012

Mile #1: Set a Goal.  Put a date on it.  Go Public.

This was one of the first “nuggets” I gleaned from my Crankset Business Training (http://cranksetgroup.com/) when I returned from my first visit to Kenya last summer.

Another recent challenge shared with me by a board member and dear friend: FACE YOUR FEARS – tackle something you have been avoiding because you fear something about it – whether it’s the activity itself or fear of failure or whatever.

With these two motivating prods in mind, I have set the following TWO GOALS (among others) for my 26 day journey in Kenya which launches TODAY.

1.  Submit a blog posting (technology permitting) every day for the next 26 days. (I have always been terrible at consistent journaling, blogging, facebooking etc., so this is a big step for me.)

2.  Raise $26,000 in 26 days.

Think about it.  This means we need 10 people to give $100 each day for the 26 days.  Will you join me in STARTING STRONG TODAY so together we can meet this big goal?

Let the MARATHON begin!  (Depart DIA at 4:30 pm today (Wednesday).  Fly to Chicago, London, and on to Nairobi.  Scheduled to arrive at 6:30 am Friday morning.)

Racing and Learning with you – thank you for joining me!  (Please spread the word)

Fastening my seatbelt,

melissa

 

Mile #2: Sweet SOCO Moments.. (writing from London – Heathrow during my layover)

I had been wanting to give my husband Shane a hammock as a birthday or Father’s Day gift for years now. Just never did.

When The 1010 Project was selected as the featured non-profit partner by this really cool company called SOCO Hammocks (www.socohammocks.com), it was just the impetus I needed to finally give this to him for a (belated) Father’s Day gift. The 1010 Project receives 20% of the sales of all hammocks purchased on their website this month! (And we will continue to be listed as an option, if you choose us from the drop down menu upon checkout in the upcoming months!).

I purchased the double hammock and the “bomber buckles” so it could easily be hung in our “not-so-ideal-for-a-hammock” backyard.

It’s only been up for a couple days, but we ALL LOVE IT!  It is super easy to put up and take down.  We hung it between a tree and our little swing set – using those super effective bomber buckles.  And this sweet spot has already been the perfect setting for napping, reading, snuggling, laughing, tickling, singing, giggling, praying, talking, crying, hugging, and just sharing lots of tender, memorable moments with my daughters prior to my departure.

I am so thankful for our new hammock.  My gift to Shane quickly became a gift to me and our whole family.

It’s not too late to purchase yours. The whole Schaap family highly recommends it!  You’ll be so glad to have one – and all of us at The 1010 Project will be grateful for your purchase, too!

It’s also great for campers!

Gotta love SOCO’s whole business philosophy and their ”kick back. give back” motto!  Check out their website today! http://www.socohammocks.com

 

 

Mile #3: So good to be back among my friends here

A tiny hand emerged from the midst of the crowd with an energetic wave. The waving arms quickly turned into a warm welcoming hug from my Kenyan sister and colleague.  Seeing Josephine’s bright, smiling face after the chaos of immigration, baggage claim and customs, gave me such peace and joy!

I arrived safely in Nairobi by 6:30 this morning after nearly 30 hours of traveling.  I am so grateful for a safe and smooth journey here. I sat next to lovely people on all three flights and had some enriching conversations along the way.  Pastor Brown drove us adeptly back to their home (no small task!) where we gave thanks together and I enjoyed the first (of what might be hundreds of cups of) tea and a light breakfast. The sights, sounds and bumpy roads were surprisingly familiar (and — even more surprisingly — not that uncomfortable) even after being away for a year.

It was fun to connect with our DU intern, Brenna, who arrived yesterday and was just waking up after a good night’s rest. After taking my own little rest (my ‘just an hour nap’ quickly turned into 2.5 hours!) we had lunch and set out to purchase our international phone cards and modem.  Well, accomplishing one out of two isn’t all bad.

My meeting with the son from a family whom I knew in Japan back in 1993-94 (he was 6 back then – now he is starting his own business adventures here in Nairobi) was postponed, so it worked out well for us to have our ‘orientation’ meeting tonight with a few members of The 1010 Kenya team at Beatrice’s home (Josephine, Beatrice, Alex, Matrine, Brenna, Tabitha, and me).

The meeting was encouraging and motivating! After going over the itinerary for the next 3+ weeks, we each shared some of our goals and expectations for our time together. Pretty cool to see how we were all on the same page, while at the same time bringing unique perspectives and contributions to the conversation. We all enjoyed the lively, productive and honest conversation infused with lots of laughter and positive energy.

I shall write more about the details of our conversation tomorrow. Oh and remind me to tell you about precious ‘Sheilah’ too!  My eyelids have bricks on them, so it is time to rest.

Lala salama! (Good night!)

 

Mile #4: A “mini” miracle with a macro blessing

(For a summary of Saturday’s activities, please see the last 2 paragraphs)

When my colleague Josephine traveled to Colorado in March, she arrived with a laptop the size of Texas.  It was huge.  And heavy.  “This is what you carry around as you travel to the different informal settlement areas in Nairobi?” I asked her.  She smiled her gracious smile and laughed her beautiful laugh. “I’m grateful to have a computer,” she responded.

A few days before I left for Kenya, one of the members of my “3to5” [intentional business community group] mentioned that he refurbishes used computer equipment.  I asked him how much a used mini laptop might go for.  He asked me what I needed it for.  I explained that I was on my way to Nairobi and my colleague could really use a smaller computer in her work there. (Josephine had confirmed my suspicion about this – just so you know that I didn’t “assume the need” which is something we try to be very vigilant about at The 1010 Project.)

“Well then, about $1,” generous Gary replied. “I think I can afford that.” I replied, genuinely moved by his generosity.  He said he didn’t always have these available in his warehouse, but serendipitously, he had just received a few in the past couple of days.  Gary worked hard to get one of these turned around for me in 24 hours!  When I picked it up from his office, he handed it to me with an encouraging word for the work that I’ve been called to do in Kenya and told me there was a 98 cent rebate for those traveling to Kenya.  Leyna and Kaya both handed him a shiny “lucky penny.”  As I thanked him, he replied, “I want my business to be a blessing to others.  This is a concrete way I can do this.”

It was such a thrill to deliver this to Josephine and hear her squeal of delight, praise the Lord, and jump up and down with joy! This mini-laptop will provide long-lasting macro blessings and encouragement to Josephine in her leadership role in the informal settlement areas of Nairobi and as she travels to Western Kenya as well!

If you are looking for an incredible “Corporate Technology Liquidator Expert” (or to purchase refurbished equipment) please call Gary Seaber and his company IT Liquidators: http://www.itliquidators.com/

Stop and think: You never know when the next opportunity will present itself to use your expertise or your company’s product or service to be a huge blessing to someone or to a whole organization! Isn’t this what makes the world go round?

Summary of Saturday, June 30: Josephine and I started the day at 7 am co-facilitating an entrepreneurial women’s (mom’s) Bible Study in the morning.  It was a huge treat to meet 8 new sisters in Christ who share all the joys and challenges in our roles as wives, moms, building businesses, serving at church, and growing in their walks with Jesus.   We have so much in common!  It never ceases to amaze me to hear how similar our joys and challenges are – it just doesn’t matter what color our skin is or where we live!

In the afternoon, we ventured into the “Nairobi Jam” to meet with another incredible Kenyan leader who is developing a Servant Leadership and Environmental Conservation program in Kenya in conjunction with some amazing people from the US who have developed an incredible Servant Leadership / Community Building endeavor in the Pacific Northwest of the US.  Very thought provoking and exciting to hear about their work and think about potential synergies and sharing of resources and ideas to add strength to each other’s endeavors!  It has made me stop to think a lot about what it means to be a servant leader and how we can be more intentional about cultivating servant leaders (we also talk about transformational leaders and change agents) in the context of strengthening social profit businesses and organizations.

 

Mile #5: When You’re Happy and You Know it…

 

Today was a long, full, and beautiful day of worship at Redeemed Gospel Church.  Pastor Brown and I left their home with our bellies full of a “cocoa-y Cream-of-Wheat-like-porridge” just after 6:30 am to arrive at their church for a day filled with different classes and worship services.

I have to say, in addition to incredibly lively worship, inspirational and encouraging conversations, solid teaching about the power of the tongue, and the warm welcome we received at the church, one of the biggest highlights of my day was this little surprise musical moment – turning a corner to find this classroom bursting with kids singing:

Both yesterday and today, Pastor Brown and Josephine pointed out the water situation at Redeemed.  (See photo).  The lines are long because the electricity has been out.  This water source provides water for thousands of people in the Quarry community.  When the electric pump doesn’t work, they fill their water jugs from the reserve tank, which takes a lot longer.  The initial need, therefore, is for a generator so the well can run even when the electricity is down.  The next priority is for a water purification system and a business model to distribute the water for a profit.  The 1010 Project is working on both of these needs.  If you or someone you know has an interest in providing purified water and creating business opportunities, please contact me.

Mile #6:  Contagious Conversations with Alice at Candlelight

Brenna and I were “handed off” to Alice Afwai today. We will be staying with her until Thursday. Her husband, Pastor Fred, is the co-founder of The 1010 Project and when I was here last summer getting the “founding tour” Andrew and I had the privilege of staying with the Afwais.

We had contagious conversations with Alice all day long.  I call them contagious because she is filled with so much wisdom and insight and inspiration!  And this just oozes out of her as she shared with Brenna and me!  I want to CATCH IT ALL!  Just when I would say we really should let her rest (she is due with her 4th baby on July 23!), we would find another topic that we just couldn’t wait to talk about.

I could write for hours about what we learned from Alice in all of her roles: first and foremost, the way she walks in faith and grace with Jesus. He lives in her heart and she loves and leads and serves with God’s love and wisdom.  This shapes how she lives out her different roles in life as a wife, a mom to 3 (soon to be 4!), as the founder and director of Candlelight School, as a social entrepreneur running her (relatively) small – but solid – tailoring business, as the founder and director of a “safehouse” a few doors down from her home that provides a safe and loving environment for 28 kids between the ages of 4 and 18. She doesn’t think of them as “orphans,” but rather as a community where they have house moms and older brothers and sisters who love and care for each other. She hears God’s call to move the safe house to the country (Kitale) where she farms the land, etc .  To know and meet Alice is to love her and learn from her.  Deeply.  And so many people around the globe do!

MILE 7 - Alice and Her expanding markets

 

Mile #7:  Alice’s IGA and LiveWorldly

What’s an IGA, you ask?  An Income Generating Activity.  Additional Revenue Source.  Perhaps most easily understood simply as a “small business.”  As you probably know, these IGAs are a big part of The 1010 Project’s strategy for encouraging our partners to be financially sustainable as they build their organizations that meet community needs.

For Alice, it means making skirts and purses (among other things).  Alice has trained two other women in tailoring and she also finds out which of her 7th and 8th grade students enjoy sewing so she can provide them with this practical skill to augment the excellent education they are receiving at CandleLight School.  Over the past year, Alice has capitalized on having access to some new markets (both locally and internationally), some of these from contacts made through The 1010 Project.  I was so excited to see how she has already improved and expanded her designs, increased her production, and set a high standard for consistent quality of her skirts and purses.

LiveWorldly is one such new partner for Alice.  You can check out Alice’s skirts that are now featured on their website (www.liveworldly.com) and see their Facebook page where they are doing a “LiveWorldly” photo campaign right now (hence the pictures with the sign).  (We will also be selling them at Shop for a Cause on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1st – see www.the1010project.org/shopforacause)

 

Mile #8: It’s a Small World After All!

When Julie Porter, the music teacher at Kaya and Leyna’s school, asked me via email prior to my departure to visit the two boys she sponsors at Galilee School in Soweto (one of the most intense informal settlement areas in Nairobi), I was skeptical I could accomplish such a request.

Imagine my shock and amazement when I mentioned this to Alice and she responded, “Sure, I know the Director of that school quite well…and she pulled out her phone to dial his number.” So well, in fact, she calls him “Dad”.  He’s actually her 2nd cousin. Not to mention one of the original “founding” members of The 1010 Project!  How’s that for a small world?

We visited there today and it was quite an experience!  We received a tour of the school (which has grown to over 1,500 children, 200 of whom also board there!) and had a fascinating conversation with the director.  I was also able to pass along Julie’s love and hugs to “her boys” (even though I’m not a fan of the “child sponsorship” model in general…but no need to get into that here) and was really happy to see Evelyn again.  She and I had talked a bit last summer at Alice’s safehouse and it was cool to be able to see her and encourage her one year later!

Our biggest adventure of the afternoon was having Alice’s car stall out in the middle of Soweto streets at least four times before “MacGuyver” Brenna finally fixed the lose battery connection with her hairband!  (Note to Brenna’s folks and friends:  don’t worry, Alice didn’t let Brenna get out of the car to help until after we were out of Soweto!)

We also had a three hour “power meeting” with Josephine at “Steer Burgers” to prepare for our 1010 Network partners meeting and the meeting with the Kenyan Advisory Board tomorrow!  Brenna and I celebrated 4th of July with ice cream cones and cappuccinos!  And yes, I also had half of a “Steer Burger”!  (they were BOGO today for “wacky Wednesday,” so I sent the other 1.5 home with Josephine for Pastor Brown and Peter!)

 

Mile #9: A Guest Marathon Mile from Brenna, Our Star Intern

Greetings from Kenya! My name is Brenna and I am interning with The 1010 Project in Kenya this summer. I am pursuing my Master’s degree in Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration at the University of Denver, with a concentration in international development. My area of interest is small and medium-sized business development, and The 1010 Network in Kenya has been a great learning experience in all of these areas thus far.

Nairobi is my first experience of Kenya and the African continent. I am impressed with Kenyan hospitality; everyone invites you to their home, offers food, pours tea. I’ve met a number of incredibly strong, smart, hard-working women and men who work with such purpose. Melissa and I have stayed with two wonderful families who are partners of The 1010 Project, the Chavasekis and the Afwais, who have fed us delicious food and lots of chai.

It’s been fascinating to see The 1010 Project’s work here in Kenya, particularly the energy of our vibrant and brilliant Josephine Chavaseki as she facilitates the introduction of the revolving fund for IGA and microfinance loans. I am impressed with 1010 Partners’ resilience and perseverance while working in what must be some of the most challenging conditions in the world. The passion, faith, and grit of the Kenyan network is encouraging and inspiring. I look forward to working with, as well as learning from, the 1010 Kenyan team this summer.