Monday, May 2, 2016

The Last Blogpost, A Goodbye To This Chapter

One of the many moringa trees grown in Luamala, Zambia!

I didn’t go to Zambia 5 years ago to save the country, show them a better way to live, or bring my ideas to force upon the people. In fact, I had no idea what I was going to do. All I knew was that my heart was screaming to follow it, doors were opened, signs were noted, and I made the best and scariest decision of my life.  I followed desires burning deep within me.

            For the first week since I was a child, those desires are quiet. They are not silent because I didn’t listen to them, but soundless because they have been fulfilled.

Five years ago, the founder of Kwasha Mukwenu Ltd., Gift Kahangu, shared his vision with me while sitting over a charcoal fire watching the sunset after a sewing workshop in my village. With a huge smile, he told me he had always wanted to run a training center to help his friends and fellow Zambians in need of skills. He refused to allow fellow disabled people to beg, he believed that, with help from others, each person could experience sustainable survival. This past January, that vision was finally realized. Kwasha Mukewnu Vocational Training Center opened its doors to 21 women who are vulnerable and/or in the commercial sex industry. After a year of learning and living in the training center, each woman will receive a certificate signifying her proficiency in tailoring.

Gift Kahangu, founder of Kwasha Mukwenu Vocational Training Center and Kwasha Mukwenu Ltd.
Last month I had the opportunity to see Gift’s dreams in action. As we stood in admiration of the building, students poured out the front door with sounds of laughter and visions of hope.  Gift and I became nostalgic thinking of the day he shared his vision with me. We talked about when I connected him with Initials’ Inc. and their creative partners who raised money for the building. Then, we talked about Africare who took the funds and built most of it. We discussed how Dan Osterhage was essential in doing a lot of work to get the building open and connecting them with First Quantum Mine in the area to fund the first year. We paid great respect to Roger Ryan who funded the last essential parts of the training center to get the necessary certification from the government. And finally, we admired Molly Russell and the passionate teacher, Ms. Mulenga, who each worked to make the first term a success. At the end of our discussion, Gift spoke of each person who bought a purse, bag, or apron over the years to provide pride and financing for the work.  All together the efforts of each resulted in the realization of Gifts’ dream.

The first class of Kwasha Mukwenu Vocational Training Center!

It starts with a spark - a flame burning within you. What is your dream? What will you do with the desires of your heart? It begins with one person stating a dream and writing it in words. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, many tears and doubts will arise at one point or another. Fear can overwhelm at any moment. But, when you listen to the whispers of your soul, follow the doors opened to you, and answer with a resounding “YES”, dreams come true.

While in Zambia I had the opportunity visit Luamala, the village I lived in for three years. I prepared a packet of information on moringa before leaving home to educate on the different uses. Upon arriving to the village I found numerous people had started to grow their own trees. However, no one had their own trees when we first started to use moringa in the fight against malnutrition. We could only use the powder cultivated from other places in Zambia. For this reason, people did not realize they could eat the leaves from the trees or cook them over a fire. Two weeks ago, while educating on moringa in the community center we built four years ago, my soul felt utter joy. In the beginning I didn’t know why my heart, God, led me to Zambia, but it all makes sense now.

Luamala Community Center built 4 years ago, now is additionally used to teach 5th and 6th grade.

David Mulamata, secretary of the community group, and I taught about the different uses of the moringa tree in the
Luamala Community Center a 2 weeks ago.

I started this blog in September 2010 posing a question: “How are we all interconnected despite cultural differences, social statuses, and language barriers?” Six years later, I realize everyone on this earth is interwoven, connected in more ways than we could ever imagine, and have access to the light whether you call that Jesus, God, Universe, or yelling out to the creator of everything. We are all part of a whole, sharing tears and laughter, holding on tight as we journey on the waves we call life.

I will continue on with new dreams, allowing God to have just as much fun with me as I do in return. I will be opening my heart, allowing the light to flood in, and continue on with a positive spirit because every word we say is a prayer. So be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!

Deep gratitude to each one of you, you know who you are, whose lives have been woven into this journey with me. The tears, pure joy, anguish, heartbreak, excitement, laughter, overwhelming fear, overwhelming disbelief in miracles happening in front of our eyes, and every other emotion every human has felt, you have been through it with me and I with you.   Thank you!

If you would like to support Kwasha Mukwenu, I brought back 100 bags, purses, aprons, and much more to sell. Check them out here: 

One of the very active men in the Luamala community group grew this moringa tree
from a seed I gave him several years ago!

The girl who started it all, Moringa Girl #1. I met her when she was about to die of malnutrition, see

The next chapter in my life awaits...