Friday, May 23, 2014

What your Giving Up is doing...

The Congo is a long way from here. And the students at Centre Salisa, as amazing and precious as they are, can seem pretty removed from your daily life. So today, here is just a peek into what is happening at Centre Salisa through the incredible work of Dr. Jerry (the Congolese director of GBA), and GBA, and how your Giving Up To Give helps to make this work possible.

At the center of what is being taught and modeled to the students is learning to continually employ 5 leadership skills:

1.identify problems

2.gather information

3. organize data

4. propose solutions together with the community

5. reflect on the process

They do this through daily work and through the overarching curriculums: waste management, clean water, and nutrition. To help solidify what the students are learning and to keep it continually before them, murals were painted on the walls. The murals brighten the otherwise drab classrooms, they encourage the students to continually engage the leadership skills, and they remind them of what they have already learned. Even the process of painting the murals was done as a group with the help of a skilled painter, and was itself an empowering experience for the students (imagine learning in classrooms with nothing but a chalkboard and suddenly having a colorful mural on the wall). Much like the brightened walls, the future of these students is brighter because of the work of GBA--work that is made possible by people like you. Your Giving Up is making a difference!



Monday, May 19, 2014

Giving Up To Celebrate and Honor Mothers

On Mother's Day Wendi chose to Give Up what her husband would have spent on her Mother's Day gift, and instead Gave to Giving Back To Africa. Take the time to read about why in her own (lovely and heartfelt) words:


"I’ve loved the concept of “Giving Up To Give” since my friends first shared it. The idea of thinking outside yourself and remembering the big beautiful world we live in is a powerful one. Taking a step back and realizing that we’re part of a collective whole. Celebrating the differences and strengths in our various cultures while realizing the human race all beats with the same rhythm in our hearts – the rhythm of love. And if we can’t take a few minutes or a few dollars to help someone who needs it then something is radically wrong with our lives. It’s the lesson we learn as children, I have two cookies – you don’t have any – do you want one of mine? Some days we’ll be on the receiving end, some days we’ll be on the giving end. But there is always enough to go around if we can be brave enough to share it.

The idea of giving up the money typically spent on a Mother’s Day celebration seemed a natural one for me. I feel the absence of the other mothers in my children’s lives deeply. I look into my sons’ eyes and I see the generations of history and genetic connection given to them by their other parents and it takes my breath away. I look at pictures of my oldest with his chubby baby cheeks, I watch the video of my youngest son’s baby coos and I see the love and care their foster mother lavished on them.

It’s hard then to celebrate Mother’s Day with just me, when three other woman - their first mothers and their foster mother aren’t here to celebrate with me, their adoptive mother. I say this not with sadness but with strength. I feel their presence. I feel the collective strength of mothers everywhere: creating, nurturing, loving those placed in their lives. So what better way to honor that love than to give to help give what every mother wants for her child - a chance at a beautiful life.

In the nature of full disclosure I have to tell you that Mother’s Day this year was a little different as it was also my husband’s birthday so there was plenty of good food and celebrating going on. In addition I got to be with my own mother for the first time in many, many years on Mother’s Day and I very much wanted to celebrate her. But this is a tradition for me now, since the first Mother’s Day I held a baby that called me “mama.” I have these wild fantasies that someday I’ll open up the mail and find a handwritten letter from one of my sons telling me the amount he has donated that year instead of flowers and cards and flying home in his hover car to surprise me. Totally unreaslistic I know. I'm sure it will be an email."