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22 Nov 2017

TEARS FROM BEHIND MY SUNGLASSES

We drive in an easy silence towards the airport to pick up Team Coffee Bean, Frank and I. As he slowly maneuvers the car over the dirt road, I stare at the rice fields to my right, wondering how many snakes live there among the legs of the people working the grain. A crane raises up and flies away, extending its long legs behind it and reaching towards the hot, round sun. Up ahead, I notice a woman in a red sweater holding a young child, probably three. The lady waves her free hand, asking us to give her a ride. We stop and let her in, where she settles [...]

22 Nov 2017

A RHYTHM IS BORN

Day 5..... Teaching a new craft is a tricky thing and teaching sewing to people whose third language is English is a VERY tricky thing. Two groups of ten adventurous souls decide to tackle the tailoring class set up by Erica, Jeanie, Morgan, and Siobhan and timidly make their way into the sewing room where seven sewing machines and a cutting table await. Pounds and pounds of buttons, scissors, yards of various colorful cloth, threads of all types and colors, seam rippers, and much more are standing at attention, ready to be used. Nine young ladies and a young man are the first group to take a class and they [...]

22 Nov 2017

IT’S PARTY TIME!

Day 4... While three people lie in the home recuperating out of the heat and snapping shields for feminine kits, Morgan handwrites names on certificates for the Mini-Mending Class, Denis and Reilly paint the school. Kathy sorts clothes while Juju, Jeanie, Erica, and Siobhan lead the sewing class. Aiden sleeps and I make the rounds, learning what goes into the green lentil stew, taking photos of various projects, and finally ending up at the school painting. The day grows hot quickly and I am grateful for my hat and sunglasses. Before you know it, we are surrounded by children and it is time to take photos! The sweetest moments are [...]

22 Nov 2017

A GIFT OF A BED…

Day two and a half to three and half of three... We eat an amazing lunch of rice, pea/lentil/green pepper yumminess, ugali (a corn staple here), fruit salad, and cabbage salad, chased down by lots and lots of water. It is only midday, but we have worked hard and we inhale the food and drink. After resting for an hour, we head out again and split up – sewing team is the same, while Andy and I put brand new sheets and pillow cases on brand new mattresses and pillows for the 14 children at the orphanage next door. They have never, ever slept on a bed and our gift [...]

22 Nov 2017

WALKING GLASSES – DAY 2

The electricity goes off at the same time that I wake up, which happens to be at the same time the rooster starts to crow – 3am. I look up and notice the fan going slower and slower and realize the electricity is gone. In the ensuing silence, I hear chirps and I wonder what sort of bird is making noise at this ridiculous hour. As jetlag takes hold of me and I can’t go back to sleep, every sound is suddenly louder. I close my eyes in the darkness and imagine what each sound represents – the closing of a gate, meaning that someone is going to start work [...]

22 Nov 2017

16 HOURS IN THE AIR

We arrive in Nairobi, Kenya after 2 hours in the car and 16 in the air and the air feels cool and refreshing after the stale air of the airplane. We all slept some on the last flight, so we feel slightly alive and we arrive at our hotel for the night ready to meet the rest of the team. Two Australians, 9 Americans, 1 Brit, 1 Ukrainian make up our team of volunteers and this bunch of new friends is making our way to Miwani where we will work together with the community there for 2 weeks. At 1am, I wake up, frustrated that jetlag has gotten to me. [...]

22 Nov 2017

ANYONE CAN EAT RAMEN NOODLES EVERY DAY

VOLUNTEER PROFILE: ANN DAMIANO IS INVOLVED IN #PASSMYPLATE Imagine trying to eat every day with a budget of $1.90. Believe it or not, the poverty level worldwide is living on $1.90 everyday – and that is not just for food. Medicine, housing, clothing, transportation, schooling, and other everyday costs are included in what $1.90 must cover for a family living in poverty. The American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA) is a non-profit global organization that brings this experience to individuals in order to raise awareness and funds for children who have been infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS. The Pass My Plate event challenges participants to eat every day on [...]

22 Nov 2017

5 WAYS GIVING CAN MAKE YOU HAPPIER

Did you know that giving provides physical and emotional benefits? As in, you can be a healthier, happier and more grateful person by giving. Classes 1702 and 1703, new recruit correctional officers from the Cook County Sherriff’s Institute, completed a sixteen-week academy training, two weeks of which included advanced mental health education. During these two weeks, recruits were taught how to prevent and manage stress, whether it be in their career or personal life. And one of the most effective ways they learned about was through the act of giving. Let’s take a look at 5 ways giving can improve your life. According to the University of Berkeley, California at [...]

22 Nov 2017

DOING SOMETHING WORTHWHILE

AFCA VOLUNTEER PROFILE: SAM KOLINS For the last three years Dr. Samuel Kolins has given the first Saturday of the month to the American Foundation for Children with AIDS. Kolins is a warehouse volunteer, a critical part of AFCA’s mission to provide families in Africa with the resources necessary to live healthily. As he recalls, the first few times he worked with AFCA he reflected on how new the experience was to him. Kolins first engaged with AFCA after hearing about the organization during a day of Inclusive Excellence Symposium at Lebanon Valley College. Since then he has enjoyed volunteering at the warehouse, organizing and packing supplies to be shipped [...]

22 Nov 2017

IT DEFINITELY HAS A PLACE IN MY HEART

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: JODI WINFINDALE Seeing the world through another’s eyes is a life-altering experience and for mother of eight, Jodi Winfindale, that experience involves travelling to Zimbabwe with the American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA). Winfindale has been a volunteer with AFCA since 2012 when she was recruited by Tanya Weaver, who runs the organization. Since then, she has been active in different AFCA programs, including Vacation with a Purpose, where volunteers donate their time to help local communities in third-world countries like Zimbabwe. “Going to a third world country where there is no reliable electricity or running water is really moving,” Winfindale said. “Volunteering with AFCA is really [...]

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