Wednesday
Mar192014

Destiny School Upgrades

This year Arise Africa is working with Kershaw's Challenge to do an overhaul of one of our community schools, Destiny. 

Ever since we have worked with Destiny Community School the need for more classrooms has been pressing.  In one round room 4 or 5 classes are held at one time.  You can imagine the stress to try to get children to concentrate and pay attention. 

That is why it was so exciting when Kershaw's Challenge and Arise Africa decided to team up and raise funds through the 2013 baseball season to build Destiny School 5 new classrooms, drill a water well and get a storage tank. 

In January when I got home from my trip in Zambia I had a very nice check waiting for me from Kershaw's Challenge to start this project.  And we dove right in!  We immediately called our builder and sent him out to the school to start his plans.  A week or so later we received these awesome renderings: 

 

I particularly enjoy this next photo the best because if you notice apparently in the background after these classrooms are built there will be golfers and a golf course right next to them!

After reviewing the plans and budgets we asked the builder to get working right away.  We also worked with a local driller and already have the water well drilled and storage tank up and operating:

Although the drilling was messy, the end product is awesome!  We now have clean, reliable water for the children and staff.

The classroom construction started a few weeks ago.  We are hoping they will be finished by June and July:

 We are so excited about improving Destiny School.  The impact this will have on the children, their education, the staff, and the community is going to be awesome.  Throughout the years the school has been patient with us and willing to listen to advice about finances, budgets, teachers and the buildings themselves.  This project wouldn't have been possible without our partnership with Kershaw's Challenge and we are so thankful for their donors and support. 

- Alissa Hollimon

Thursday
Feb062014

Welcome Anna!

A few months ago, the board and myself decided it was time to get me some real part time help in our office.  After having amazing interns to help me over the years, we knew it was time to hire an individual to help in the USA office.

  I was so excited about this opportunity, but also a bit hesitant.  Who could I find that could love Arise Africa and be committed to what it takes to work for us?  How could I ever find someone who is organized and can put up with me everyday in the office AND deal with my very short attention span?! Who would run behind me cleaning up my messes and keep me in line!?  (that takes a very special person who has lots of patience)  Who would be ok with my 90 pound chocolate lab in our office everyday and love her as much as I do? 

And who could even ever consider putting up with the rest of the crazy people in our office building?! 

Well God took care of that.  A few weeks ago I was at a friend's wedding and ran into Anna, who was on one of our mission trips years ago.  Anna has spent the last few years working for a wedding planing company in Dallas and was actually the planner at my friends wedding.  I randomly asked her how things are going, and she mentioned she was interested in doing non-profit work.  And that's when I attacked her like a vulture!  I mean I almost knocked over the wedding cake to talk to Anna.   It wasn't too graceful, but I didn't care.

"Woah, woah, woah what do you mean Anna?!"  I asked. 

She seemed a little startled, probably because I looked like a linebacker trying to tackle her in my excitement at this possibility.  After a few minutes of discussing I knew I had to try to get her!  I left the wedding with a full plan on how to recruit. 

First, I called/possibly harassed the Kershaws, because Anna is actually Ellen Kershaw's friend.  I thought that between Arise Africa and Kershaw's Challenge we could share Anna and pay her full time.  I left text messages saying things like "Guys, she will save both of our lives. We have to act now because she'll be snatched up fast."   In the end the Kershaws agreed and we got to hire Anna!!

It's been a few weeks since Anna first came to the Arise Africa office.  I knew she would fit in well when she didn't miss a beat when the office neighbor's 20 pound cat came into our office - she didn't flench. (Tiger, he has a thyroid problem).  

She takes notes on everything that happens in meetings and then reminds me of what I said I would do!!  What? That is awesome! It's like having Siri run around with you all day reminding you what is coming up. (Anna's voice is not annoying like Siri and she actually pronounces things correctly and doesn't give you directions to places that don't exist).  She has picked up so fast on donor database programs and is working hard with our Zambian staff to get spreadsheets up to date.

Anna will wear many hats with Arise Africa.  But most importantly she is my right hand person.  Let's be honest, in about a month Anna will be telling me where to go, what to do, who to email back, and what meetings I have coming up.  And I can't wait!  WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE, ANNA?!

Anna also is in charge of our child sponsorship program in the United States.  This requires constant work and attention to detail.  The burden of that being lifted off my shoulders is great.  I can now focus on bigger picture items and know that very important program is taken care of. 

We are so excited to welcome Anna to the team! Now, let's pray I don't scare her off!

- Alissa Hollimon

 

Wednesday
Dec182013

Christmas Catalog : Provide Hot Meals

Sometimes, when I’m really hungry but I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll get into my car, drive ten blocks to Greenville Avenue, and shell out a few dollars for a hot (though usually very unhealthy) meal at a fast food restaurant. It’s a quick and easy hunger fix, and it normally doesn’t require much effort on my part.

Up until a few months ago, I never thought twice about this little routine.

Then I started working for Arise Africa.

The children we work with in Zambia do not have this option. Even if there were fast food restaurants for them to frequent for lunch or for dinner, it is highly unlikely that these children would ever be able to do so and afford even the smallest of meals because most of them live on less than a single dollar per day.

Hunger is a powerful thing. Many of the children in the community schools we work in eat only one small meal at home each day. Some cannot concentrate and thus excel in school because of the constant, nagging pains they feel in their stomachs; others cannot even attend school in the first place because they must spend all of their time on the street corners begging for more scraps in order to survive.

This year, we are so thrilled to be partnering with several community schools to help provide hot meals for the students that attend class there. Beyond the health benefits that these meals provide, they are also one of the children's very favorite provisions of Arise Africa. When I read through their letters every month, I always hear of their resounding thankfulness for these daily plates of food; I also hear about how they enjoy being generous with the gifts they have been given by regularly sharing their meals with other children in need.

The point of this blog post is not to ask you to toss your fast food habits to the curb. I know I won't. I am, however, asking you to carefully consider taking one or two fast food meals out of your weekly or monthly diet and putting the money you saved towards feeding Zambian children instead. You donation of $5, $10, or $50 will be greatly multiplied and go further than you could ever imagine; because of it, many more students will be able to attend school regularly, learn more effectively, and remain in good health as they grow and mature in 2014.

To provide hot meals for children in need, please click here.

Wednesday
Dec112013

Christmas Catalog : Provide New Shoes And School Uniforms

I attended my first two years of school—Kindergarten and Pre-Primary—at the church my family and I frequented growing up. Since it was a private establishment, I was required to wear a school uniform every single day: a frilly white blouse, a red and blue plaid jumper, white socks, and little Mary Janes. Navy cardigans and white stockings were encouraged in the winter, and barrettes and bows were optional, though my mother always put them in my hair.

While I didn’t really appreciate the hair accessories, I loved everything else about getting dressed up for school every morning. I adored wearing my uniform because it was a unique privilege that only my classmates and I held; that was something very special to me, and I thus took great care of that little uniform and wore it with a lot of pride.

Kate, circa 1994.

Unlike here in the States, every child in Zambia is required to wear a uniform to school. Unfortunately, many families struggle to pay for school fees, let alone the clothing required to attend school once it is paid for. This means that many of the children we work with are dressed in old, heavily used, and poor-fitting apparel that fails to meet their needs, much less their desires.

But you can help! This Christmas, you can provide a child with a brand new school uniform, as well as the essential school shoes that will also help protect their little feet from sharp terrain and harmful diseases. These are not only necessities; they also instill a sense of worth and thankfulness within the hearts of the children in our program and provide jobs for local seamstresses and shoemakers.

Friday
Dec062013

Christmas Catalog : Buy A Health Pack

From September of 2012 to May of 2013, I suffered from debilitating migraines. I had never dealt with any sort of major head issues before—aside from the occasional headache growing up, of course, and the one incident during my junior year of college where I found myself with a stress-related headache that hurt so badly I threw up three times in one night—and my family and I traveled from specialist to specialist for months trying to figure out what exactly was wrong with my body. Unfortunately, no one could really pinpoint an answer.

During my prolonged stint of sickness, as I tried to live and work as best I could in the midst of feeling downright horrible every single day, I learned how important it was to fill my body with everything it needed to function and function well: a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, and lean protein, as well as additional vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements. Even though I was healthy girl (aside from the crazy headaches), the doctors encouraged this practice in order to ensure that I was supplying my body with all of the nutrients it needed to thrive.

Let’s quickly go over those facts one more time. I was a healthy, 23-year-old living in America. I was eating at least two, sometimes three highly nutritional (though occasionally lacking in iron due to my stint with vegetarianism) meals each day. I was drinking a lot of water, and I was exercising a little, even though I really hated doing so. However, I still had doctors telling me that I needed to add vitamins and nutritional supplements to my diet each day in order to “boost my system” and make my body the very best it could be.

How much more, then, do you think a small boy or girl in Zambia—who could be suffering from a number of ailments ranging from malnutrition to malaria to HIV/AIDS—needs those vitamins and nutritional supplements to thrive?

This Christmas, Arise Africa is giving you the opportunity to purchase Health Packs for children in Zambia. These packs provide crucial vitamins, minerals, calories, and proteins to children who are suffering from life-threatening ailments and thus daily finding themselves in desperate need. Please partner with us as we aim to help these children grow healthy and strong this holiday season!