HELLO FROM SOUTH AFRICA // JUNE 2016

Byron, my contact for The Ebongalethu Educare Center Preschool & Nursery, sent me photos from last month’s porridge delivery! I hope you enjoy the photos and thank you for helping to provide these little ones with a nutritious meal!

Update from The EEC - June 2016

The kiddos checking out the packages of porridge!

Update from The EEC - June 2016

Meal time!

Update from The EEC - June 2016

This is Gladys, the amazing founder of The Ebongalethu Educare Center! She is now in her 60s and runs the entire place with the help of three wonderful ladies.

DSC_1174 (Medium)
Update from The EEC - June 2016

This lovely little girl is 3 year old Anelisa. I have been told that she is the sweetest and has the most amazing nature about her! She was born with some conditions and needs special care. Gladys and the ladies that work with her are doing the best they can with the resources they have. So far, Byron has learned from Gladys that Anelisa needs to have an operation on her palate because when she eats some of the food comes out of her nose. The entrance way to her ears are almost completely closed so she can barely hear anything. She would need to learn sign language to be able to communicate properly. Byron has been trying to get through to her doctor to see what exactly she needs to live a comfortable and healthy life. Anelisa is currently receiving therapy elsewhere and Byron is trying to find out what that entails as well to see what they can do to help. I am sending lots of positive thoughts to this wonderful child and the wonderful people who are helping her–I know she is in good hands with Gladys and Byron at The EEC.

Update from The EEC - June 2016
Live, laugh, love–great advice on this cutie’s shirt!

FRIDAY FAVORITE / TED TALKS : CELESTE HEADLEE – 10 WAYS TO HAVE A BETTER CONVERSATION

The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Ted Talk /10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation by Celeste Headlee

I wrote this post earlier in the week but in light of recent events, I feel like this Ted Talk is more relevant than ever. Without communication, understanding is replaced by fear, intolerance, and ignorance. There’s a part in this talk that stands out to me–Celeste says that she has had great conversations with people whose values and beliefs differ greatly from her own. It sounds like that is something we need to do now. Regardless of where we stand on politics, gun control, the police, or racism, it seems like it would be a good idea to listen to one another to come up with a solution so that we don’t need to continue waking up to news of another violent shooting or another senseless death. I think we can all agree we don’t want to live in a world where this is a daily occurrence. While there are major changes that need to happen, I think if we have better conversations in our daily lives and within our communities, we will be taking a step in the right direction.

I have found that when I feel stuck, uninspired, or blah, a great way to get out of that funk is to listen to an episode of Ted Talks on YouTube. I recently came across Celeste Headlee’s Ted Talk “10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation”. It caught my eye because who wouldn’t want to have a better conversation? I want to feel this way with people I interact with and I also want people to walk away from a conversation with me feeling connected and having enjoyed speaking with me.

Celeste Headlee has a lot of experience with communicating with people–she is a radio journalist, reporter, host, correspondent, writer, and professional opera singer.  She is currently the host of “On Second Thought”, a radio talk show on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Celeste has co-hosted the national morning news show “The Takeaway”, was the Midwest Correspondent for NPR’s “Day to Day”, and was the host of a weekly show on Detroit Public Radio. She also holds multiple degrees in music and is a classically trained soprano who performs quite often.

As she says in the beginning of her talk, this is not the usual “look into the other person’s eyes” or “nod to show you are engaged” pieces of advice we have probably already heard a billion times. And while you may hear some of the points and think they are pretty common sense, it seems many of us have forgotten these things in our busy day to day lives.

I ended up listening to this twice–after I finished it the first time I realized I wanted to write these 10 things down on paper so I wouldn’t forget them! I know I am guilty of many of the things on the list and I am looking forward to changing these bad habits immediately and adopt the new ones I have just learned. I truly enjoyed this talk and think Celeste is sharing such great knowledge and advice from her experiences.

Here is the Ted Talk and below are my notes on each point Celeste covers.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and here’s to better conversations!

10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation – Celeste Headlee – Ted Talks

  1. Don’t multi-task. Be present in that moment. Be 100% there.
  2. Don’t pontificate. The definition of pontificate is, “express one’s opinions in a way considered annoyingly pompous and dogmatic.” Set aside personal opinions. Assume you have something to learn.
  3. Use open ended questions. Ask who/what/when/where/why/how.  Instead of asking, “Were you afraid?” let them tell you how they felt by asking, “How did you feel?” or “What was that like?”
  4. Go with the flow. Let thoughts go in and out of your mind. Don’t hold onto a thought or story which takes you out of the moment and makes you stop listening (you end up thinking, “I got to remember to tell this story!” instead of listening to the other person).
  5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. Don’t pretend like you know something if you don’t.
  6. Don’t equate your experiences with theirs. All experiences are individual. It’s not about you. It’s not a promotional opportunity.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself.
  8. Leave out the details. Nobody cares about the exact date or time or place. They care about you, how the two of you connect.
  9.  LISTEN! Pay attention. Listen with the intent of understanding, not the intent of responding.
  10. Be brief.
  11. Go into a conversation interested in the other person and be prepared to be amazed by them!

#RANDOMLOVELETTER 2016 RECAP

June flew right by and I can’t believe the #randomloveletter challenge has already come to a close! It was a lot of fun to be a part of this again for the second year in a row and thank you Sarah and Olivia for allowing me to co-host with you! A very special thank you to @HandletteredABCs for co-hosting the first full week of RLL with us.

I have loved scrolling through the feed to see what everyone was posting–here are some of my favorites from Instagram:

Random Love Letter Recap 1

Top row, left to right: @sarahdshotts, @sharewithmy, @lo_in_sojo, @thefive15, @nguyening.at.life
Bottom row, left to right: @lauralovesletters, @letteringbynicola, @m2bstudio, @3x3nonsense, @jensweeney4

Random Love Letter 2016 Recap Row 2

Top row, left to right: @fleuronic, @soochieink, @calumfung whose note was found by @oliviabynature, @thetinymc, @amyamybobamy
Bottom row, left to right: @anintran, @sarahdshotts, @3x3nonsense, @michelechoban, @kellyleungtadesigns

Random Love Letter Recap 2016 Row 3

Top row, left to right: @wordfindersclub, @wonkiefinger, @th_purpl_lady, @itsjustyellow, @randomolive
Bottom row, left to right: @snoopypoopyy, @oakleysuzyt, @tseitskat_

FRIDAY FAVORITE / DEAR DAUGHTER

The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Instagram Project & Storyteller / Dear Daughter by Christina Tran

Dear Daughter, I want to tell you
Photo courtesy of @dear_daughter_

I first came across @dear_daughter_ while browsing through the #write_on hashtag back in April. The post I saw had a vintage looking photograph of a young woman and a hand written note below the photo: “Dear Daughter, I want to tell you about your grandmother. I want you to know her stories.” I instantly connected and fell in love with this post– it felt very intimate and reminded me of my own mother and grandmother.

Every post by @dear_daughter has touched me in one way or another–some have made me smile, others have made my eyes well up with tears, and they have all made me think. They have reminded me of my family–my own parents and their struggles, stories, and wisdom. There is something so beautiful and thoughtful about Dear Daughter and how each piece in the series manages to evoke such strong emotions with just a single photo and a handful of words.

Dear Daughter, I am already proud of you

Photo courtesy of @dear_daughter_

Christina Tran is the talented storyteller behind Dear Daughter. As a big fan of this project and her work, it’s a wonderful privilege to be able to learn more about both!

Dear Daughter is such a beautiful and impactful series of photographs and letters. Where did you get the idea to start Dear Daughter? What was your inspiration? 

I started playing with the idea of writing letters to my future daughter as part of a larger comics project about our culture’s toxic beauty industries and how those messages affect our societal conceptions of self-worth, which influence our perceptions of ourselves. I had this idea that I was going to write these letters “on the world” (as graffiti, in magazines, on our skin, in the sky…) so I started the Instagram account to be able to document experiments in form.

On a last-minute whim this past April, I decided to participate in the Write On campaign during National Letterwriting Month. I really like creative challenges that get me doing small acts of art making at a steady pace for a set amount of time, so I loved the idea of 30 letters in 30 days. I had this old photo album of my mom, so I just started writing tiny letters to my future daughter alongside old photos I had of her.

I love the photos and the nostalgia that comes with them–they look so much like photos my parents have of themselves when they were young. Are these photos from your personal collection / can you tell us more about the people in them?

My parents passed away when I was an undergrad in college, and most of our family photos are back at my brother’s home in Texas. I move around a fair amount myself, so I’m picky about what I bring with me. I have one box of photos, which are a mix of childhood photos, high school pictures, and this one album of my mom from when she was a young lady in Vietnam. I’ve always been intrigued by these photos both because they feel really familiar to me (my high school friends and I would sometimes run around and do photoshoots ourselves) and also because they’re a complete mystery (I don’t know who the other people are, I don’t know where the photos were taken, I never knew this youthful fashion-savvy version of my mom).

I didn’t know I had an analogous album of my dad in his youth until I was rummaging around in my boxes looking for paintbrushes a few weeks ago. I found the dad photos only a few days before the anniversary of his death and right before Father’s Day, so it felt like a sign. I felt I sort of had to do another series of “30 letters in 30 days” using his photos this time.

Dear Dad
Photo courtesy of @dear_daughter_

Every letter I have read has made me emotional–many bring tears to my eyes. I can relate to what is being said / hear my own parents saying these things to me / or they are words I wish have been said. Are these letters words that have been said to you or are they messages you are creating from scratch for your future daughter?

There’s a funny thing that happens in art and in life — if you juxtapose any two things, people will ascribe meaning whether and beyond whatever was initially intended by the creator of the thing. The most fulfilling projects are the ones in which the end results surprise even me. I didn’t anticipate the emotional and healing journey that the series has taken me on, but I am so grateful for it. I started the series as if I were writing to my future daughter, but through the alchemy of art…who can say whether I am sending messages into the future for my children, or whether they are messages sent backwards in time to a younger version of my mom when she was a daughter herself, or whether these are channeled through my maternal ancestors so that they can send me the messages which I yearn for in my present day to day…

If there’s one thing you’d like your audience to take away from Dear Daughter, what would it be?

I think each reader will take away something different; different letters resonate with different people for different reasons. But overall, I am trying to convey a message of faith in yourself and your own personal wisdom. It seems like we’re all seeking and searching and questioning, and we’re always turning outward — to blogposts and media, to other people’s opinions, to tarot cards and societal expectations — for answers. But I’ve found that if I’m quiet enough and if I’m attentive enough, I oftentimes already have all the answers I need.

Dear Daughter, Even after I am gone
Photo courtesy of @dear_daughter_

What are your plans for Dear Daughter going forward? 

It’s funny because I haven’t thought that far ahead for this project because this was always meant to be a space to play and experiment. I’ll definitely keep writing letters; the letter writing challenges have rekindled my love for real-life letter writing this year, and I’ve been sending more random letters and postcards to people I care about. Thinking bigger picture, I already made a little postcard pack of some of the mom photos, and I’d love to someday publish the series in some kind of book format.

I really enjoyed reading your creatively written bio (sodelightful.com) and wanted to learn some more about you! Please fill in the blanks…

When I am not working on Dear Daughter, you can find me:

Reading books, making comics, or climbing things

I am passionate about:

Feminism, social justice, and creating more inclusive quiet safe spaces in the world for people to just be.

A project, TV show, podcast, IG/Twitter account, etc. I think you should check out is: 

I recently watched a really inspiring documentary about the Ovarian Psychos, an all-women of color bicycle brigade in LA whose “political views are feminist ideas with indigent understanding and an urban/hood mentality.” I really love the work they’re doing in the community, and how they embody their values and ideals.

Check out the trailer: https://vimeo.com/158100366

Besides @dear_daugter_, where can we find and connect with you?

If you like the Dear Daughter series, please check out my comics at sodelightful.com/comics. I tell more stories about my relationship with my family, the loss of my parents, and what it means to love and care for ourselves and for others. You can also sign up for my newsletter for updates. I love writing these letters to my subscribers about what’s going on with my work!

Dear Daughter, I always wonder

Photo courtesy of @dear_daughter_

Thank you Christina for your thoughtful answers and time! Please go check out @dear_daughter along with Christina’s other projects–I hope you fall in love with them as I have.

17 KIVA LOANS FUNDED WITH FATHER’S DAY CARDS FOR A CAUSE

Thanks to your Father’s Day card orders this year as well as repayments from previous Father’s Day Cards For A Cause Campaigns, Atiliay is able to fund 17 new Kiva microloans for dads around the world! I really enjoy the process of reading each loan applicant’s story and sharing them with you. There’s a few things I look for when I am lending: 1) The applicant must be a father 2) The loan is for the father’s business (not a personal loan) and 3) The business must not be harmful towards animals. Please read on to learn more about the 17 fathers we are lending to (text is taken from their Kiva profile):

Father's Day Kiva Loans Row 1
From Left to Right: Adrianno, Azamjon, Benon, Damilo

Adrianno / Blacksmith / Encarnoncion, Paraguay  Mr. Adriano is from the town of Encarnación and lives with his wife. They have a son for whom both strive to get ahead and provide a better quality of life. He is a blacksmith and says that he’s been working this trade for several years. Things are going well and he’s improving daily. He’s asking for this loan to buy iron so he can continue with his work.

Azamjon / Construction / Kostakos, Tajikistan Azamjon is a very hardworking and cheerful man. He is 46 years old and he lives in Kostakos County, Gafurov District with his wife and child. He is a decorator, working in construction. He paints and decorates people’s houses for money and receives income from his business. Mostly he works in the summer season. Sometimes he needs to go to other regions to work. That’s why he needs a car to get there. He wants to buy a car but he has money which is not enough to buy a vehicle. That’s why he is asking for a loan of 3000 TJS from MDO Arvand. He wants to use the loan to buy a vehicle and improve his business. He thanks Arvand for their cooperation in improving his life and business conditions.

Benon / Farming / Fort Portal, Uganda Benon is married and operates a business distilling a local beverage known as waragi. On realizing the lucrative nature of this business, he decided to go for it in order to earn money for personal development and to educate his children. To supplement his income he also farms bananas and other crops. His dream is to expand his banana plantation so as to increase the volume of his waragi production. The loan that Benon is requesting will be used to weed, prune, and mulch his banana plantation.

Danilo / Motorcycle Transport / Dinas, Sinacaban, Misamis Occidental, Philippines Danilo owns and operates a motorcycle transport service to earn a living. He has been in his business for almost 10 years and earns well from this business. He successfully paid his previous loan which was used to repair his motorcycle. Now he is taking a new loan to buy motor accessories and to pay for the renewal of the motorcycle license. In the future, he wants to save more for the future of his children.

Father's Day Kiva Loans Row 2

 From Left to Right: Gelvin, Ghevond, Hugo, Hysen

Gelvin / Agriculture / Morazan, Yoro, Honduras Gelvin, 51, lives with his wife and two children in the municipality of Morazan, Yoro. For five years he has been producing coffee; he used to grow beans. His coffee plantation is in the rural area of a community produces and distributes excellent quality coffee beans. In an effort to improve his crop and harvests, Gelvin is requesting a loan in the amount of 7,000 HNL to buy supplies and formulas for his plantation. His plan is to continue improving his land and give his family all they need for a better quality of life.

Ghevond / Taxi / Gyumri, Armenia This is Ghevond, a 33-year-old taxi driver from Gyumri. Ghevond lives together with his mother, wife and two infant children. He provides their daily living on his own and tries very hard to support his kids with proper living conditions.

Ghevond started providing taxi service 18 months ago with his own car. Thanks to his politeness and safety, he has several loyal customers in his hometown. The only limitation is demand instability for his service. Ghevond requested this loan to be able to continue providing taxi service. He needs your financial support to pay for a renovation of his car and to purchase four new wheels. This will help him to provide safer and more comfortable service and to attract more clients. Ghevond is so thankful for your understanding and hopes for your help.

Hugo / Taxi / Gustavo A. Madero, Mexico, Mexico As of 6/26/16, Hugo’s loan is not fully funded! To make sure it gets funded, you can contribute here

Hugo is a loving husband who has been a stable taxi driver for over 30 years. He is 59 years old and does his best to support his family and his wife often helps with the house expenses.

He is looking for a new start. He is wanting to remodel and provide his kids with a better lifestyle. He is looking for a loan of 5,000 MXN, which will allow him to renew his driving permit. The government is asking him to take a new one and the loan will allow him to afford it.
 

Hysen / Construction / Kosovo Hysen is a new client of our company requesting a loan in order to help him refresh his business with some working tools for his construction business. The amount that Hysen is applying is 650 Euro that will help him to enlarge his company. By taking this loan Hysen has planned to raise his business to another level by buying new tools that will help him improve construction work. He is married and has three children whom he is supporting with his construction company. Basically his idea and plan is also to improve kid’s school and social life and make a brighter future for them. He is a very hardworking and responsible person and the new loan would be of a very high impact on his family income.


From Left to Right: Issa, Mahmoud, Mario, Mauricio

Issa from Neisakuru Group / Decorations Sales / Makeni, Sierra Leone  Neisakuru is a group that has come together to help themselves achieve their individual dreams by attaining a loan to improve their sales. Issa is the leader and the featured borrower for this group. Neisakuru is made up of five members requesting a total loan of SLL 10,000,000. Issa is to receive SLL 3,600,000 to purchase more decorations, flowers and textiles. Issa has sold flowers and textiles for the past 15 years. Issa is shown in the middle of the picture.

With this, they will be able to grow and improve the availability and accessibility of the business. Issa is a 61-year-old father with five children. He plans to save some of the proceeds of his business for his children’s education and welfare. He thanks you for supporting them.

Mahmoud / Soft Drinks & Juice / Ain Al Helwi, Lebanon Mahmoud is a 56-year-old Palestinian refugee, the married father of five children, and their sole breadwinner. He has been working as a taxi driver for 13 years to financially support his family, and improve their living. Living in a Palestinian camp limits refugees’ dreams of seeking a better income business. That’s why Mahmoud decided to start a new business for his son through an acquired loan from Al Majmoua. He will open for his son a juice-selling shop especially for the coming Holy Ramadan month, since juice is a main item on every food table during Ramadan.

He is looking forward to establishing his son’s business and hopes that his son will succeed in managing it properly in the future.

Mario / Used Clothing / Machava15, Mozambique Mario lives in a common-law marriage, and is the father of five children, out of whom four are still under his responsibility and attend primary and secondary school. He works as a security guard for a private company. He lives with his family in a house he owns.

With the requested amount, he will buy bales of used clothes for resale at the local market.

In the future, he plans to open a boutique to sell new clothes in large quantities.

Considering that two of his children will finish high school this years, he faces the challenge of funding their university studies.

Mauricio / Barber Shop / Medellin, Colombia Mauricio is 27 years old and lives in the municipality of Medellin. He has two children, a son and a daughter who are twins, and it has been a beautiful journey for him and a huge responsibility he has taken bravely. He started a barber shop back in 2006 so he could help his family and become more independent.

He dreams of paying for the best education he can for his children so he can give them a bright future. Regarding his business, he’s working harder so the sales can improve and so he can attract more clients to be more competitive. He’s asking for a loan so he can buy furniture for the barber shop so his clients can be more comfortable.


From Left to Right: Nana, Nestor, Samuel, Uriah

Nana / Food Production & Sales / Antsirabe, Madagascar  As of 6/26/16, Nana’s loan is not fully funded! To make sure it gets funded, you can contribute here

Nana is a bold entrepreneur. He is 48 years old and lives with his wife and five children in the outer area of Antsirabe. He works from his home where he has been able to develop a workshop to make groundnut oil. He has been with Vahatra for more than four years and has received several successive loans of increasing amounts. Because of this, he has been able to produce, package, and deliver his oil to different merchants in town.

Nana is very pleased with his success from the previous loan. He is grateful to the lenders for their support. Today, he wants to continue to produce groundnut oil to meet demand. This loan will be used to purchase 2,300 kg of groundnuts.

His goal is still to become a groundnut oil wholesaler. For the long term, he wants to have financial autonomy. The conditions for his family have improved.

Nestor / Retail / La Union, El Salvador Nestor has a sixth grade education. He is married and lives with his wife, a homemaker, and two little children who both attend school.

Nestor makes his living selling spices, combs, thread, needles, and other items. He goes out to the stores in the communities Monday to Saturdays to sell his wares. He started doing this work because he realized that it could be profitable, and this is how he earns income to support his family.

He will use the loan to purchase spices such as anise, cumin, mustard, pepper, cinnamon, etc. as well as combs, thread, and needles to continue selling.

His dream is to improve his home, and provide his children with what they need to be good people.

Samuel / Renewable Energy Products / Kenya Samuel is a 38 year father of two boys. He is very experienced in selling solar products as he has been working with 200 plus field officers for two years. Samuel’s motivation is creating a better Kenya for his children, and his research has shown that off-grid solar is the best way to expand this. He has experience in selling solar cook-stoves and briquettes in 10 different counties in Kenya.

He wants to work with One Degree Solar, to expand his solar initiatives in new communities. He wants to use his expertise and passion for solar to sell One Degree Solar’s lanterns and educate end-users on the benefits of using One Degree Solar’s products. One Degree Solar is very pleased to be working with Samuel on making sure this initiative completed to it’s full potential.

Through this loan Samuel will purchase 1,500 units of Brigt1. He has previously sold One Degree Solar’s original product, the BrightBox and seen immense benefits from this.

Uriah / Farming / Kaduna, Nigeria Uriah is a Babban Gona maize farmer from Kuzuntu village. He is married with a child and lives in a mud house with his family. He is a meticulous farmer who has invested time and resources in his farm. He hopes his child work twice as hard as him and becomes a doctor.

Thanks to his drive, Uriah is able to ensure that his family eats three square meals a day. In order for Uriah to keep improving his yield and as a result feed his family; he needs access to high quality inputs, such as fertilizers, herbicides and improved seeds. As a Babban Gona member, he will be provided with a full suite of the best inputs to optimize his farm and increase his yields up to 3.5 metric tones per hectare; 2.3 times the national average.

With increased yields and income of up to 3.5 times the national average, Uriah looks forward to using his additional income to pay his child’s school fees. Uriah is a happy Babban Gona farmer and holds getting married as his best memory as a Babban Gona member. He looks forward to a brighter future with Babban Gona as his partner in fighting poverty.


Waleed / Fruits & Vegetables / Wihdat, Jordan Waleed is the caring father of five children and he lives in a rented house in Wihdat, which is considered as an ‎underprivileged area in Amman. ‎He owns a vegetables and fruits van and he is peddling in the street.

Waleed wishes to open an independent grocery. He applied for a loan to help him buy more vegetables and summer fruits to serve more customers ‎and save enough money to be able open his own shop. ‎