Sunday, May 1, 2011

Monroe Elementary School Raises Money For Uganda

In the words of former progressive anthropologist Margaret Meade, it takes only a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens to change the world. For Monroe Elementary School, that's exactly what a small group of young students decided to do.

After listening to an educational presentation on oppression and poverty around the world, the Student Council voted to challenge their peers to make a difference. By selling "bricks" made out of paper for 25 cents each, they raised over $300 toward building a school in Uganda, Africa.

"These kids don't have a lot to give, but they're willing to give so much," said Monroe principal Marlys Berg. The school gathered for their morning assembly last week and cheered for the accomplishment as Berg announced the final amount raised while one of the student council members handed a bag of full dollars and change over to Donavan Kennedy, co-founder of Yobel Market, the organization of partnership.

"Imagine the exponential knowledge and capability these kids will have in making a difference around the world, especially starting at such a young age," said Kennedy.

Terri Adams, a kindergarten teacher who heads up the Monroe Student Council said she heard about Yobel Market through a fellow teacher and decided to follow up and see what the organization was about. She visited Yobel's storefront in Old Colorado City and quickly caught the vision of partnership they have with projects across the globe; creating jobs and opportunities to keep families and individuals out of poverty and oppressive circumstances that would otherwise dictate their lives.

“You don't have to be an adult or of a certain race or gender to start a practical movement in your community,” said Yobel's co-owner. “This elementary school may have started something that will grow into something greater than they could have imagined, and it will be because they believed in working towards something bigger than themselves.”

Adams couldn't agree more.

"We have a mission to support the people here at Monroe, the local community around us and our world, so we try to do something each year to work towards those three things," she said. "When I heard about the mission of Yobel, I thought it would be great for the kids to hear and asked Donavan to come speak about it."

Donavan presented to the entire school after the Council decided to make a project out of it, and the kids caught the vision with enthusiasm.

"They were asking great questions and were really engaged with their ideas and discussions about the information they were given," he said. "They were getting the word out to their peers and even taking money out of their own piggy banks to donate in whatever way they could for this project."

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
-Margaret Mead

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Adam's Mountain Holiday Bazaar!

As ornaments glistened and live music lulled in the background, a vibrant crowd made its way through Adam's Mountain Cafe for Yobel's third annual Alternative Christmas Shopping experience last Monday night. Almost 20 local artists set up shop in the cozy restaurant to display products ranging from homemade stationary and jewelry to hand-crafted bowls made from old records.

Walking in to the lobby, shoppers were offered hand-woven baskets to use as shopping carts, and potentially, purchases that would benefit Africans linked to a project in Ghana. The dimly lit restaurant hosted a welcoming atmosphere for consumers who want to make a difference and the creators who worked the event alike. "Yobel has made me a better person," said Holly Port, creator and owner of The Lotion Bar Cafe. "I just love the community that is created at this event; I don't really care how much I sell!" 

As you wove through tables filled with scarves, jewelry, wallets, notebooks and more, you could pick up a glass of deliciously decadent hot spiced wine (respectfully provided by the Swirl Wine Emporium) or grab a drink from Adams' wide menu selection for a couple bucks, or simply snag a gingerbread cookie from snack tables around the room. But the selections didn't end there; children's books, stuffed toys, knitted hats, silk scarves, and post cards were also available for purchase.

"I am just so excited to be here and support Yobel in their ventures," said owner of the Cheery Checkerboard Kitchen, Deborah Worthey. Deborah began her business about 4 years ago when her son signed up for YWAM and she wanted to support him. She began selling three different types of dip mixes at local farmers markets and found that people were quickly catching on to her creations. Her business now includes cookie mixes, jams, soups, chip dips, homemade snack bowls and much more. "This is just such a great community and I am so thankful for the people who have a heart for that," she said.

Festive background music was provided by independent singer Rachel Brown, Sara Schlotterbeck and Laurie Thornton of The Blackthorn Project while consumers mingled and made a difference by purchasing fair trade items and products that benefited projects from other countries, or supported the businesses of local artists. Whether gifts were purchased for oneself or for others, Christmas Spirit was definitely in the air!

This year's Bazaar was co-hosted by Adam's Mountain Cafe and the Colorado Springs Empty Stocking Fund. The latter's mission is to provide resources for 15 different health and human agencies in the Pikes Peak region. You can find out more about their vision and projects at

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Murchison National Park March 28-29

Murchison National Park

March 28-29

Murchison National Park is situated in the northern part of Uganda boarding the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The Victoria Nile goes straight through the park making a lush park full of wildlife.  Murchison is just now considered healthy and the animals are making their way into healthy populations after being target practice for the rebels. 

The team and some friends back home raised extra money for us to treat the people at the farm to something special.  So, we loaded up a bus and made our way into the park with our team and 9 people from the farm, many of which had their first experience seeing African animals in person!  We were very blessed to see Giraffes, Hippos, Elephants, Warthogs, many types of grazing animals, Crocodiles, Baboons and Loins.  Everyone was filled with joy and laughter.  Our African friends entertained us on the bus ride with Acholi songs and wonderful conversations.  We stayed at a travel lodge and took everyone out for a spaghetti dinner.  One of the girls from the farm thought that the noodles were worms, and we were wondering why she did not finish.

On our second day at the park we took a Nile River boat tour up to Murchison Falls.  The waters were full of Hippos and Crocs with so many animals coming to the waters edge for a drink.  We had answered prayers when a family of Elephants showed up for a refreshing gulp amidst the blazing heat of the dry season.  

Our new friends are some of the purest hearted, humble people I have been in contact with.  They live out a joy with smiles that reach from ear to ear; it is hard to believe the stories of what has happened to them in their short lives.  They are stories that bring tears to my eyes and their smiles bring hope to my heart.   

Canaan March 21-March 31

Canaan Farm

March 21 through March 31, 2009

Our first week in Africa has been a refreshing intro to the continent.  After arriving into Uganda we had a 5-hour bus ride up to Canaan Farm.  Partly because of the excitement of coming to Africa, none of our team was really able to sleep on the plane.  However, for some reason we were able to sleep on the bus even over the pothole filled country roads.  We didn’t arrive at the farm until dark but when we got there, we were greeted with song and dance from the women at Canaan.  They were full of joy and welcomed us all as their family.  Just stepping off of the bus it is apparent that Canaan is a place of peace and refuge. 

The land that Canaan Farm is situated on is in the northern part of Uganda and houses families that have been displaced due to the war in the north.  Many of the boys on the farm have escaped from the LRA (Lords Resistant Army) who broke into their villages and kidnapped children.   Many more families have lost family members and everything they own.  They seek refuge at Canaan where they are given the chance to start over.  Canaan grows many different types of fruits and vegetables creating income for these families.

Our team slept in mud huts with grass roofs, a true Ugandan experience.  Everyday we woke up to many roasters and numerous birds.  One night about midnight a herd of cattle went through the camp.  Our food was cooked outside on a charcoal stove, as there is no electricity.  We were taken care of by two extremely hardworking women who cooked all day for us.

Thanks to friends in Colorado, we brought over heaps of clothes, school supplies and different medical and dental supplies.

While on the farm we held classes each afternoon underneath the shade trees where the bamboo jewelry is made.  Each day we were able to get to know the women and the few former child soldiers who all make the jewelry.   The classes that we held were about the difference between Ugandan markets and western markets, quality control, new techniques including how to use some of the new tools that we brought, and how they wanted to run their side of the business.  Canaan Farm has been working to teach the women how to sew, so Nicole (who went on the trip) taught them how to make bags to hold the earrings.  They turned out beautifully.