Inspire Your Heart With Art!

Inspire Your Heart With Art!

This Sunday, January 31st, is Inspire Your Heart With Art Day! It’s a day to appreciate the beauty and creativity around us all the time. Looking at a beautiful painting and listening to music often fill my heart to overflowing. And from that point of joyful saturation I find it more easy to believe in a better future, miraculous healing, and harmony among all people.

Pictures of Home

Flowers lovingly placed in the windowsill of a newly constructed home in Eldoret, Kenya.

Flowers lovingly placed in the windowsill of a newly constructed home in Eldoret, Kenya.

Song of Gratitude

I heard Tusubira Eve sing this song at her church in Uganda and later asked her if I could record her singing, “Thank you, My Lord. Thank you, for what you’ve done.” At the church service Eve led a group of children, singing loudly and dancing together, which mesmerized me.

 

Painting on Location

I love staring at landscape paintings and allowing my heart to imagine myself into the scene. Looking at this painting of Lake Malawi (now hanging on my wall) I can almost feel the cool morning air and the calm water, listening for the distance voices of the fisherman in their wood boats.

A painting of Lake Malawi. Purchased at Nkhotakota, July 2011.

A painting of Lake Malawi. Purchased in Nkhotakota, Malawi, July 2011.

Song of Joy

I am transfixed as I listened to these powerful voices and the joyful words, “The storm is passing over, Hallelujah!”

My heart is fluttering with inspiration and joy as I share this post with you!

(Pictured at the top: Natural Beauty Alert: Sunset over Manyamula Village, July 2014.)

5 things making me happy: #GivingTuesday edition

5 things making me happy: #GivingTuesday edition

Thanksgiving is a good kick-off to the giving season. Each year it’s a time when co-workers, the church, the media, and families start talking a bit louder about giving: Giving thanks, giving food to those in need, giving gifts to loved ones, giving light to the world. Thank you to those who have already given to Spirit in Action today for #GivingTuesday!

Here are 5 things making me happy as we enter this giving season:

1. New SIA small businesses in Nairobi!

5 new small business leaders in Nairobi have sent their business plans to the SIA office and received their initial $100 grants! (Click on the picture to see the full photo.) The leaders are pictured above with Wambui Nguyo (front in black coat), who is the SIA local coordinator in the area. Wambui and Josephine (front left) work together as a strong team to train and mentor the new groups. These new businesses will be selling:

  • Used shoes and toys
  • Tools
  • Milk, door to door
  • Cell phone accessories and airtime (pay-as-you-go minutes)
  • Vegetables, tomatoes, onions

2. This reminder that even small acts of kindness can make a difference

kindness quote

3. Celebrating an alternative rite of passage for Samburu Girls in central Kenya

Our partner Margaret Ikiara of CIFORD Kenya will travel 5 hours tomorrow to represent Spirit in Action at the Alternative Rite of Passage for 60 Samburu girls with the Pastoralist Child Foundation. This celebration will be an empowering ceremony of song, dance, and speeches, taking the place of the traditional genital cutting.

Margaret has arranged for several of the girls from Meru (who have celebrated with their own alternative rite) to travel with her so that they can share their experiences with the girls in Samburu. This peer support and collaboration is exactly what SIA is all about!

4. This podcast about why you should give internationally

This great, 13-minute interview highlighted one of the reasons I gave in my blog post on the same topicYour money goes so much further internationally. Even a small amount can really make a huge difference in someone’s life! Listen to the Tiny Spark episode here: http://www.tinyspark.org/podcasts/guide-to-good-giving/

5. A photo of a newly-trained tailor in her shop!

This woman completed the dressmaking training with Progressive Volunteers (which I wrote about here) earlier this year and now she has her own shop! Look at those beautiful dresses! This is a clear example of how SIA small grants translate into actual jobs and new opportunities for women. Now that’s really making me happy!

one of the trained beneficiary in her business

Inspired to give on this #GivingTuesday? You can support Spirit in Action by giving online! 

Gratitude for a Full Life

Gratitude for a Full Life

For this Thanksgiving week, I am reposting this piece about gratitude that I wrote in February, 2014:

“I believe that the whole world about me is full of beauty, joy and power, even as it is full of God, and that I can share it and enjoy it if I attune myself to my Divine Plan and am inwardly open toward God and outwardly helpful toward [others].”  ~ Glenn Clark, The Divine Plan

A moment of personal connection. Meeting a SIA entrepreneur in Kasozi, Uganda in 2014.

A moment of personal connection. Meeting a SIA entrepreneur in Kasozi, Uganda in 2014.

I have a tendency to get caught up in the details of work. I like to organize things and plan next steps, moving from task to task. And sometimes I lose sight of the bigger picture. When I read the quote above by Glenn Clark, I was jolted back into considering how all the work I do for Spirit in Action is part of my fuller life; something that inseparable from all other parts of my life.

The quote captures it perfectly. I have been blessed to see a world of hope, beauty, goodness, and possibility around me. And when I stop to be grateful I am reminded to thank God (“inwardly open toward God”) and share this vision and hope with others (“outwardly helpful toward others”).

Values at work

“How did you get into this work?” a student at Illinois College asked me after I presented about SIA. As in, how does one come to want to work for a non-profit?

When I started working for SIA six years ago [Note: 8 years ago now, in 2015!] I had just left my job at an insurance company. It was after the switch that I realized the importance (for me) of working for an organization that has emotions, learning, and faith built into its very fabric. At SIA, those things I value most – including the desire to spread goodness – won’t be pushed aside.

This alignment of values and work doesn’t only happen in non-profts. I can trace my desire for passionate work to my artist parents and my professor husband. When the sole focus isn’t on profit organizations, universities, and businesses can afford to spend more time focused on people and relationships.

Job+ Through Spirit in Action

I’m not the only one at SIA who feels and knows this job+ concept. Our inward/outward vision is also built into the Small Business Fundprogram.

The families that receive our $150 grants also receive emotional and practical support from the local SBF coordinators. In line with Glenn Clark’s vision for a good life, each is encouraged on their individual spiritual journey (“inwardly open toward God”) and asked to pay-it-forward through Sharing the Gift (“outwardly helpful toward others”).

Working together with so many people to improve ourselves and serve those around us is a blessing that is more than just work. Thank you for joining me in this good, full life.

[Featured picture: Tanya with Dennis Kiprop, apassionate SIA Small Business Fund coordinator in Eldoret, Kenya, and his family.]

Let’s make a difference!

Let’s make a difference!

This Saturday is Make a Difference Day in the U.S. You are encouraged to lend a hand, to improve someone else’s life, to build a positive movement with others in your community. I wrote recently about the importance of giving money internationally to make a big impact, while also noting that volunteering locally is a great way to effectively put your giving spirit into action.

I was impressed that the Make a Difference Day website has 20 projects organized in Santa Cruz! The projects range from cleaning up neighborhood parks and schools, to removing graffiti, to painting picnic tables for public use.

However you put your spirit into action for positive change this weekend, you might take a moment to connect in common purpose with our many SIA partners in towns, villages, and cities across Africa.

  • Canaan Gondwe at the Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative for economic justice;
  • Jeremiah Mzee leading Progressive Volunteers to provide education for even the poorest in Nairobi slums;
  • Margaret Ikiara with CIFORD Kenya meeting with girls and widows to talk about their rights;
  • Moses Mukongo with CMAP Kenya for a more sustainable environment;
  • and so many more who are volunteering their time to make a difference in their communities.
Margaret met with 78 women in September to discuss family life and sexuality.

Margaret met with 78 women in September to discuss family life and sexuality.

If you don’t join one of your official community projects, consider how you might be making a difference in your everyday life. Sometimes the pebble is cast even when we don’t know we’ve thrown it: “The biggest differences I’ve made are the ones I don’t even know about. If you’re working for justice and you’re living with compassion and integrity, you are probably making a difference in people’s lives every day. You just might not realize it.” (Barbara Harrell-Bond)

Enjoy your week!

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Video: Gratitude for what we do

Video: Gratitude for what we do

First, I’m grateful for our amazing volunteers. People like Carmen Hernandez who share their skills with SIA. Carmen put together this video of me telling her why I choose this work and this organization, and mixed it with photos of me during my visit to SIA partners last summer. Just watching it brings back such heart-warming memories of shaking the hands of Small Business Fund leaders, hearing testimonies, drinking tea, and dancing along to their songs.

To find what else I’m grateful for, watch the video!

Tanya – SIA from Carmen H on Vimeo.

I’d highly recommend hiring Carmen for any filming or video editing needs! Contact her here.

Isn’t our new logo great too? I’d also recommend Ballyhoo Design for graphic design projects!

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