2nd Annual Holiday Party

On December 16th we hosted our 2nd Annual Holiday Party at Bootsy Bellows in Aspen. It was tremendously successful, with over 400 guests, an amazing silent auction and live raffle, great cocktails and food, and lots and lots of dancing.  We are beyond grateful to everyone who attended, donated, contributed and overall helped make the event happen. 

Special Thanks to Aspen Sojourner and Windfirm Photography for the wonderful photos! 

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A High School Perspective: Caroline Moriarty

With Summer quickly approaching, we are all busy at The Center making holiday preparations and anxiously awaiting the arrival of our summer visitors. For the past eight summers, Action in Africa has been lucky enough to host a group of students from Aspen High School. One particular student, Caroline Moriarty, raises the bar with her steadfast commitment to Action in Africa. Having served in Uganda last summer for a few weeks, she experienced first hand what life in Africa is like. We were lucky enough to catch up with her this past week and gain a fresh perspective about what it's like to be part of Action in Africa in high school.

Caroline- it's people like you that keep us going! Thank you so much for your continued support and love! We are so lucky to have you in the AIA family and can't wait for you to be back in Uganda this summer!

Describe Action in Africa (AIA) in one word: INSPIRATIONAL

1. How did you get involved with AIA? 

I got involved with AIA through the Aspen High School Club. AIA really stood out to me because a lot of my older friends were part of the organization, including my older brother.

2. What is your favorite program that AIA offers?

One of my absolute favorite programs at The Center is the after school program. It stands out to me because it gives the kids in the village a chance to come to The Center and do something they love, at a place where they feel safe and can always get help. I personally love arts and sports and find it really special that I get to share some of my favorite interests with the kids in Uganda. 

3. What are you most excited for when you come back to Uganda this summer? 

I am most excited to see all the kids and moms that I really made a connection with last summer. The kids that I got to know became like little sisters and brothers to me. I miss their beautiful smiles everyday!

4. Do you have any advice for someone that wants to travel to Uganda? 

My advice for anyone interested in traveling to Uganda would be to not think twice about it and JUST GO!  It's a life changing experience that I will never forget. I would not trade a second that I am lucky enough to spend in Uganda for anything else. Can it be July already?

5. Being in high school can be very time consuming. We know you are busy, since you are a varsity athlete and at the top of your class. How do you make time for AIA? 

Action in Africa is something I love and I am very passionate about. I do the best I can with my busy schedule to spend my free periods at school and the time that I am not busy doing anything else on Action in Africa.

6. How would you encourage other high school students to get involved with AIA or any other service endeavor? 

Aspen is such an amazing community that really values and understands the importance of service. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to travel to Uganda and be part of AIA because my school encourages it. I think it is a privlige to step out of your bubble and comfort zone and experience the rest of the world. You will meet some amazing people and have some great stories to tell! You will find that not only is it life changing for the people you are serving, but also for yourself!

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Resonate - A Women to Women Seminar

This past Friday, Action in Africa hosted Ayla Schlosser, founder of Resonate, to come speak with our women about leading change in their lives. Resonate is an organization based in Rwanda that Aunt Alex was introduced to through Bead For Life (another organization that the Women to Women program is seeking partnership with) back in November. The mission of Resonate is to use storytelling to “empower women and girls to build self-confidence and unlock leadership.”

Olivia (Women to Women Member) sharing her values

Olivia (Women to Women Member) sharing her values

During the one-day intensive session, 30 members of Women to Women and a few Muzungu friends learned about how telling your story can help to reveal the values that you find to be the most important which allows you to know yourself better and to make stronger relationships with people with similar values.

Another tool Resonate uses is the story of a hummingbird who, when the forest she lives in catches fire and her home starts to burn, begins the seemingly futile task of going to the river and bringing water to the fire drop by drop. When the other animals stop and ask what she’s doing, the hummingbird replies, “I’m doing the best I can.” With this story, Resonate teaches women that regardless of whether or not they have a leadership title, they can initiate action in the face of a problem and promote change. 

The purpose of Ayla’s seminar is not to make these women change their life immediately after the seminar, but instead for them to learn a little bit more about how and why they make decisions which in turn should help them with making decisions and taking action in the future.

To find out more about Resonate check out their website at http://resonateworkshops.org/ and stay tuned for the women’s development as Ayla conducts the follow-up in a few weeks! 

January - February Recap

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A recap of what has happened at Action in Africa!
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Action in Africa Recap

A lot has happened at Action in Africa over the last two months. Between new volunteers, a stolen motorcycle, wrapping up holiday break, the kids going back to school, repainting The Center, and a Women to Women conference; life at Action in Africa has been very busy!

Here is a brief summary of what has happened along with two easy ways to support Action in Africa.
Enjoy! 
N E W    V O L U N T E E R S
L A U R E N 
Lauren volunteered with us for a few weeks back in January. She helped with our youth programs and was incredible. Much to our dismay, she, unfortunately, didn't accept our offer to be a full-time volunteer. Come back soon! 
D Y L A N 
Dylan, a volunteer from our  2015 June high school group, is back at The Center for a few months. He will be helping us with the garden project, photography and miscellaneous jobs around The Center.
N E W   S T A F F   -   B R E N T   D A V I S
Brent, our new Director of Programs, has arrived at The Center. He will be with us in Nankuwadde for 12 months, helping develop and direct our creative based programs. He's already doing amazing things; leading a rhythm group, art group, and creative writing. We are so excited to have him here.

Welcome to the team, Brent!
L A W R E N C E   &   H I S   N E W   B O D A
BODA STOLEN
Most of you have probably heard about our friend Lawrence. His boda (motorcycle) was stolen out of his house back in January and we decided to do something about it.
Click above to see the video!
THE NEW BODA
Action in Africa rallied together, and we were able to raise enough money to buy Lawrence a new boda in a period of two days. It was truly incredible! 
Click above to see the video! 
E N D   O F    H O L I D A Y   B R E A K   ||   B A C K   T O   S C H O O
In January we added some new programs for our secondary students. They consisted of debates, spelling bees, and revision sessions with a secondary teacher. The kids were quite busy! Holiday break came to an end on February 12th and was wrapped up by the secondary students taking two exams to see their progression from the daily sessions with Teacher Taata Bella. We concluded with a huge party full of food, dance parties, and speeches from the students. We are already missing them and cannot wait until the next holiday break!
February 22nd was officially the first day of school. Pictured above is Oliver who is an extended family member to Maama Melan (our lead chef and one of our first Muganda recipients). She recently moved in with Maama Melan for a better life, away from the village she was previously living in. Olivier is 8 years old and has never been to school before, until this week. She just completed her first week of school ever and we couldn't be any happier!! We are so proud of Maama Melan for making the courageous decision to take on another child.
T H E   C E N T E R   -   R E N O V A T I O N S
Given the end of holiday break, we decided that The Center desperately needed a facelift. The walls were caked with fingerprints, dirt, snacks and slobber. The walls used to be white but the traffic of holiday turned them an unfavorable color. We let Brenda pick the new color, which is a washable paint, so goodbye to the mess and hello to clean purple walls! 
PICTURED: top (the workshop), bottom left (the NEW library), bottom right (the NEW office 
R E S O N A T E    -    W O M E N   T O   W O M E N 
On February 26th, we hosted our first Women to Women conference in partnership with Resonate Workshops. Our women learned about leading positive change in their lives and how it doesn't take a title to lead change and take action in their own life situations. It was an incredible conference that 30 of our women, mothers, and neighbors participated in. Alex will be posting more photos and a blog entry about the entire conference at some point this week. Keep your eyes peeled! 
 G E T   I N V O L V E D   ||   W A Y S   T O   S U P P O R T   U S
PURCHASE MUGANDA
The perfect gift for your friends and family, our Muganda bracelets are handmade in Africa and help put children in Uganda back in the classroom. We currently have 5 moms stringing the bracelets to help cover the cost of their kids school fees. Sold in packs of 3 or 5, our Muganda bracelets are sure to bring a smile to your friends and family. Click the link above for more information and to shop! 
DRINK WINE
Action in Africa has been chosen as a featured charity for (c)3 Wines spring quarter. 100% of their profits from February 15th-May 14th will be donated to their featured organizations. We are excited to offer you the ability to purchase wine (something you're likely to do throughout the year anyway!) that gives directly to our programs. Click the link above for more information and to shop! 
D O N A T E
H A P P Y    M A R C H   ! ! ! 
With Love, The Action in Africa Team
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True Love- The Story of Joel and Poppy

When we arrived at The Center in January 2015, there was a dog staying in the back garden. Annet, the landlord’s sister, had asked us if we wanted it and we graciously declined, not quite understanding what this would mean. Prior to us moving in, Joel and his mother, another sister to the landlord, lived in the house. This meant that Joel's precious pup, Poppy, also stayed at the compound. When we arrived, Joel and mom had to move, leaving Poppy behind. Without a family or place to stay, Poppy came to call the enclosed garden in front of The Center her new home. Much to our disappointment, this virtually meant that Poppy lacked the love and attention that she once received. She was stuck outside during rainstorms and often didn't get food. We would hear her cry all day and all night. The whole thing was heartbreaking, so we decided that we had to intervene. We demanded that she be let out of the garden and offered to take care of her at The Center, her original home. We were horrified to see the condition Poppy was in. She had an injured paw, was filthy, covered in fleas, her ears were bleeding from fly bites, and she was very hungry.  

We called in a vet to clean her up. He treated her for all the above ailments and then vaccinated her for rabies. We started feeding her and, likewise, she started adjusting. 

This went on for a few weeks before one of the kids from our programs informed us that Joel was the actual owner of Poppy. I grabbed Joel and eagerly inquired. She was indeed his dog, so I asked him, "Joel do you know where Poppy is now?" (We had already had her for about a week at this point.) He sheepishly pointed towards the back of the house, where Poppy hangs out during our kids programs. I replied, "If this is your dog, why is she living at The Center with Action in Africa and why are we are feeding her?!" He uncomfortably giggled. We then began to discuss the situation, and it quickly became clear that his new home was not suitable for Poppy. The house was too small and is surrounded by many aggressive neighborhood dogs. Joel worried that Poppy would get ganged up on by the other dogs and might even end up dead. His best solution was to keep Poppy locked in the garden away from harms way.

Given the circumstance, we agreed to continue caring for Poppy if Joel agreed to help us with her. So now he comes over to play with Poppy every evening in the yard, as well as to bathe her every week.  The amount of time and attention Joel gives to Poppy clearly demonstrates the strength of their bond and the depth of his love for his sweet little puppy. Each evening when they are running throughout the yard, I often wonder whether Poppy or Joel is having more fun! 

It has been such a joy being able to provide for Joel's dog in ways that he couldn't himself. We are honored to play a role in this situation and to watch both Poppy and Joel thrive together!

**Special thanks to Brenda Torres for the cartoon image of Joel and Poppy. This is the start to a monthly cartoon series that she will be designing for Action in Africa.