Bonus! 5 Newsletter Additions.

Healthy corn plants in Malawi.

Healthy corn plants in Malawi.

Welcome new visitors and long-time readers.

The SIA Fall/Winter Newsletters are on their way to you this week! There was too much good stuff for the amount of space in the newsletter, so this post is a newsletter bonus supplement.

(If you want to get a sneak peak at the newsletter, you can download the full color PDF here.)

Inside the 2012 SIA Fall Newsletter:

1. Our pay-it-forwad “Sharing the Gift” program is featured prominently throughout the newsletter (pages 1, 2, 3, & 8). The sentiment behind the program is perfectly expressed in this quote from Amelia Earhart:

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”

2. Page 3 has an article about the MAVISALO Soccer Tournament (plus HIV-prevention presentation) in Malawi and mentions some Malawian soccer chants. Read about their great, creative soccer chants: http://www.mwnation.com/sports-the-nation/sports-extra/8807-malawi-football-befriends-music

3. So many good photos! Here is another photo from the MAVISALO poultry project (Page 1). You can see more photos from our visit to Manyamula Village in Malawi on our Flickr photo site.

Canaan Gondwe tends the MAVISALO chickens in their cooperative's poultry house.

Canaan Gondwe tends the MAVISALO chickens in their cooperative’s poultry house.

4. Page 8 highlights a program helping women in Meru, Kenya collect clean water. You can read about this community organization’s philosophy of  service as told to me by CIFORD’s director, Margaret Ikiara.

5. “Best of” On Page 3 I list the top 5 blog posts from the last six months. Here are the links to these popular posts:

P.S. If you want to join our Dreamer’s Circle by donating regularly to SIA, you can set up online monthly donations here. Thank you!

The Brick Business, One Year Later

Making BricksImagine, last year your received a grant which was large enough for you and three friends to start a new business. You are feeling pretty good – you’ve all worked hard establishing your brick-making business. You made mud, packed it into molds, then left the bricks to dry. Afterwards, you fired the bricks in a clay stove because you knew you can sell them for more if they’re fired bricks.

Now, one year later you are better clothed. You’ve learned how to run a business, and you’re eating better and including more meat in your diet. Perhaps most importantly, you can now proudly send your children to school for the whole school year.

This is the story of Efulansi Kauda, Joy Ali Bamgatatie, John Tanzilamba, and Moses Sabirye of Kasozi Village in Uganda who started a SIA Small Business Fund business together in 2008. Today they are still making bricks and working together.

Signing for the group's initial $100 grant.

Signing for the group’s initial $100 grant.

At SIA we don’t just give things away. We give people resources and tools to get ahead. We give them the autonomy to start whatever business they think will be successful given their skills and resources, and the local demand. I think this is part of the reason that 100% of new SIA business owners from Uganda say they feel better about the future when they report back to us. Thank you for helping us continue this exciting partnership.

This is just one story that inspired me this week as I put together the Fall/Winter Newsletter. I’m just about finished with the newsletter and it’s filled with stories, photos, and more SBF One-Year reports. Keep an eye out for it in your mailbox soon!

The Miracle of the Seed

Seeds are amazing things: from a tiny beginning comes growth, blossoms, and fruit. In a way, Spirit in Action is a seed that Del Anderson planted in the world. He was fascinated with the way that nurturing people and developing encouraging relationships could produce fruit far greater than what we see in a humble seed.

This past July, the SIA Board of Directors met for a weekend retreat at a Board member’s home in Placerville, CA. During our discussion of Spirit in Action’s heritage and future many of our thoughts related to seed and growth metaphors.

Seed Grants

We saw the grants we give and the projects we support as seeds. Indeed, we often call them “seed grants” because they are meant to be a beginning from which much can grow. We nourish organizations at the grassroots (seeds!) level with small grants, information, encouragement and sustaining relationships.

Then we draw hope from the inner Life, as describes in the devotional book God Calling, “Think of the tiny snow-drop shoot in the hard ground. No certainty even that when it has forced its weary way up, sunlight and warmth will greet it. What a task beyond its power that must seem. But the inner urge of Life within the seed, compelling it – it carries out the task.”

Beautiful cabbage in a Kenyan garden

Beautiful cabbage in a Kenyan garden

Growing and Outgrowing

We see some of these grassroots organizations growing bigger than Spirit in Action. One beautiful example is Samuel and Rhoda Teimuge’s Samro School in Eldoret Kenya. Del Anderson shared with and supported this couple many years ago and they have since grown independent of SIA, building a model school self-sustained though school fees. The Teimuge’s are also spreading the SIA seed to another generation – our Small Business Fund Coordinator Dennis Kiprop was trained and mentored by the family.

Indeed, our Sharing the Gift program spreads the seeds of opportunity beyond the people who receive SIA Small Business Fund grants to other people in their community as business groups pay-it-forward to others in need.

Woman in Malawi shows the bounty from her family's farm

Woman in Malawi shows the bounty from her family’s farm

Bearing Fruit (& Vegetables)

In a very literal tie to seeds, one of Spirit in Action’s first activities as an organization was to send donated seeds to contacts overseas. For 16 years we have received seeds from Thomsen’s Garden Center in Alameda and sent them to people starting kitchen gardens and community gardens.

We are always thrilled to hear of their fruitfulness, like this note from Canaan Gondwe in Malawi, “Tell Aileen Gillen [SIA’s seed volunteer] that we are greatly surprised with the performance of the seeds that we received from her. The vegetable seeds of tomatoes, pumpkins, onions, cabbages, and all other vegetable seeds are good.”

SIA started as a seed planted and tended by Del. Now, we take new directions, incorporate new ideas, and send up new shoots. Gardens of supporters grow throughout the US, nourishing gardens across the world. Spirit in Action is a healthy plant and we appreciate all your loving care.

Love Will Find a Way

Love Vinkhumbo has faced many challenges in life. So she had quite a story to share when Canaan Gondwe, Spirit in Action Small Business Fund (SBF) Coordinator in Malawi, asked about SIA’s impact on her life.

Love with her daughter Grace.

Love with her daughter Grace. “The family is very thankful to SIA for the timely support and continues to pray to God that her heath and the family be sustained.”

Love, born and raised in Manyamula Village in rural Malawi, was first married in 1984 and had three children – Grace, Rhoda, and Trouble. Her husband had AIDS and all the money they made from odd jobs went to pay for his medical care. He died in 2000, leaving Love widowed and HIV+.

Love was discouraged and “could hardly find food and soap to keep my family well” but she didn’t lose all hope. She banded together with other people living with HIV/AIDS and formed the Manyamula HIV/AIDS Support Group, designed to be a place of encouragement and sharing. It was through this group that Love met her current husband Fanuel Tembo who is also HIV+. 

Love in her new grocery shop.

Love in her new grocery shop, called “Love’s Bean Shop”

Canaan Gondwe, the local SIA SBF coordinator, went to visit this family last year. During this visit he evaluated this family’s situation against the established criteria for new SBF groups, which is individualized for each community where SIA works. “This family was chosen for SBF because they fit the Poverty Assessment Tool as the family had lost everything through the sickness and they needed external assistance to make up the losses. I assessed their potential and found out that they could manage the SBF.

“When they received the SBF training in January 2012 and received the first grant of $100, Love Vinkhumbo and her husband bought beans, tomatoes, and a few groceries to trade,” reported Canaan. “Together with their children, she kept on ordering and reselling groceries and beans and today a different positive outlook is noticeable.

Grace is excited to continue high school!

Grace is excited to continue high school!

After 3 months of operation of the business, the family is showing smiles and is bailed out of untold misery. Two of her children are back in school. The family’s potential on the economic and social status has picked up and they feel life very different from before. They can buy their food and send their children to school.”

In just three months the family earned $130 in profit and “with the extra funds that she finds, the family has managed to buy two goats which she expects to raise and keep more money.” 

All that from a $150 grant! I am honored to read of Love’s great perseverance in the face of challenges. In times of need, she has been able to seek and provide hope, working to make life better for herself and everyone in her family.

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