What’s up? WhatsApp!

What’s up? WhatsApp!

I am thrilled! Technology is once again rocking my world! In a tech/cellphone/screen-saturated culture we can sometimes forget that for Spirit in Action cellphones and their applications are nothing short of a miracle!

When Del first started Spirit in Action in 1996 – 20 years ago! – he was writing letters back and forth to his friends around the world. An airmail letter could take weeks to arrive in Kenya. Even if the person responded right away, Del might not receive the reply until a month after sending his initial letter.

Email sped up the conversation. When I started working with Spirit in Action eight years ago, I could write an email and have a response in a few days. That interaction still required the person in Kenya to go to an internet cafe to respond.

And now…..I can communicate almost instantaneously through the amazing technology of WhatsApp!

A WhatsApp conversation with Naomi this week.

A WhatsApp conversation with Naomi this week.

What’s the Difference?

WhatsApp is a phone app that requires very little data to send text and photo messages. No more international texting charges! I am now one of WhatsApp’s almost billion worldwide users, along with Naomi, Wambui, Canaan, and Jeremiah, four of our Small Business Fund Local Coordinators in Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi. Cellphones are relatively inexpensive in Africa (as I have written about here) and while someone in Malawi might check email only once a day or once a week, they always have their phones with them.

cell phones charging

Grace’s shop in the Manyamula Market is connected to the new electricity lines in town and so she provides phone charging services for a small fee.

It’s not to say that I never use email for Spirit in Action anymore. Now when I’m waiting for an email response I can WhatsApp message the recipient and urge them to check their email! Also, the messaging back-and-forth is more like a conversation, so it’s helpful for developing a closer relationship with our partners.

WhatsApp’s technology allows users to send photos without taking up a lot of data, thus making it easy and affordable. I now routinely receive photos of SBF report forms – taken on smartphone cameras and sent through WhatsApp. The process before? A coordinator would have to take the forms to the internet cafe, paying for scanning services and internet time to email the PDFs to me. Or, they’d send the physical forms to me in the mail, costing international postage rates and taking weeks to arrive.

Do you understand now why I’m thrilled?!

Fall Newsletter Preview! Welcome our newest coordinator!

The SIA Fall & Winter 2015 Newsletter is ready for your reading enjoyment!

Read exciting stories and see photos from our programs:

  • Welcome Hastings, our newest Small Business Fund Coordinator in Malawi!
  • Mirriam’s story of transformation from poverty to stability in Zambia.
  • Student scholarships have a big impact at Samro School in Kenya.
  • “A Life of Wholeness” – Inspiration from Del Anderson

You can download the newsletter as a PDF document (4 MB) or read it online.

With joy and gratitude,
Tanya

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A boy in Manyamula Village, Malawi with bags of dried corn maize.

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary!

Can you believe it was FIVE years ago that I started my weekly Tuesday blog posts? Wow! I started the run on June 29, 2010 with a post titled The Gift of a Pig about Winkly Mahowe in Malawi who had received the gift of a sickly pig. He nursed and cared for the pig and when the pig had piglets, he graciously shared one with someone else in need; perfectly modeling our Sharing the Gift program. Last summer I visited Winkly and his family, celebrating his herd of pigs and the new house he has been able to build with the profit from his thriving piggery business.

Since then I’ve written 238 blog posts with success stories, grant updates, photos from my trips to Africa, inspiration from Del Anderson, and my own reflections on our work and our world.

Thanks for joining me on this journey! If there’s a story you wish I’d tell, let me know and I’ll see how I can make it work.

Muddy feet after a walk to visit some rural Small Business Fund groups in Kenya. (SIA Coordinators Conference, 2011)

Muddy feet after a walk to visit some rural Small Business Fund groups in Kenya. (SIA Coordinators Conference, 2011)

Top 5 posts with the most comments:

guardian's group with CIFORD Kenya.

Women in the guardian’s group with CIFORD Kenya.

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Honoring Del and Lucile Anderson

Honoring Del and Lucile Anderson

With hearts full of gratitude, we extend this invitation to celebrate the life of Lucile Anderson (wife of Spirit in Action’s founder, Del Anderson) on April 25th in Oakland, CA. Please see the invite from Lucile’s family for details and how to RSVP.

Lucile’s son, Rob Hanford, shares that in her last days Lucile was “still growing, still teaching. It was amazing and uplifting to see the genuine love that the staff at Windsor had for mom, and the deep sadness at her passing. When you consider that she couldn’t speak during the six years she was there, her presence was very strong.”

We honor the beautiful spirit in Lucile and the kindness, love, and generosity she shared with the world!

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Marsha Johnson, SIA Advisory Board member and former SIA Administrator, remembers: “I could always count on Lucile to thoughtfully speak her truth, whether in a meeting or in a private conversation together. I knew that this “truth” was preceded by prayerful pondering, and then Lucile would say something like:  “My guidance is……””

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Spirit in Action. You can make a donation in Lucile’s memory online or by mail.

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Del and Lucile had quiet time together every morning. Perhaps these words from Del (from 2006) might have been thoughts they pondered during these prayerful times together.

Wisdom from Del: The Path of Transformation

  • Begin right where you are with what you have.
  • Give thanks to God for the gift of your own special life.
  • Thank God for family, friends, community and for all that has brought you to this present, holy moment.
  • Each day, spend time with God in the silence, sensing God’s Spirit of love within YOU.
  • Let go of all that binds and limits you, and sense God’s empowering Spirit coming forth within you more and more fully, day by day.
  • Open to gratitude, expectation and wonder.
  • Recognize that you are a Spiritual being with God’s indwelling Spirit activating you.
  • In the quiet, sense the true needs of yourself, your family, your community.
  • Lay these true needs before God, opening to God’s guidance and empowerment, letting God come forth in every aspect of your life.

We have a new logo!

We have a new logo!

I am so excited to share Spirit in Action’s new logo! Wait, new logo? Did SIA have an old logo? Short answer, not really. Long answer, we only had a stylized font version of our name and so not really.

This new logo is our opportunity to capture the spirit of our work in an image and continue with our best foot forward. And so we started the logo design process (led by the talented folks at Ballyhoo Design) by defining the core of our work:

  • Spirit In Action is supportive and relationship-focused.
  • Spirit In Action is compassionate, encouraging, empowering.
  • Spirit In Action is community-oriented.

We wanted the logo to represent both our approach to grantmaking AND the actual SIA programs. And I think the new logo blends those perfectly!

  • The hands show the relationship focus, and they also represent the leadership by our partners in Africa.
  • The leaf expresses our passion for sustainable agriculture, and represents our grants that support training and farmers.
  • The water droplet is about drinking and irrigation water and also represents that our grants are drops that fall into a greater ocean. Our drops ripple out and multiply – spreading through Sharing the Gift, cooperation, and empowered communities –reaching many more people than were touched by the first drop.

And so, without further delay, Ta-da!

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What does this logo inspire in you? Would you sport a water bottle or tote bag with our logo? I’ll be adding the logo to our website and social media soon!

P.S. Did you notice that we moved to a new website address? Our whole website is now at the most natural URL: www.spiritinaction.org. Feel free to bookmark us for quick access!

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