Trick or treat for kids around the world

 

It is the element of surprise that makes Halloween such an enjoyable time for many children. Dressing up in fun costumes, screams and scares, running around the neighborhood on a school night and collecting candy is all about the Trick or Treating fun.

As the Halloween excitement builds all around, students of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance from Auburn University Montgomery (AUM), organized the third annual “trick or treat” drive in their neighborhoods–a tradition started by Roselyne Bosco, now a graduate of AUM.

But, unlike the children in search of sweets, these students asked for a more nontraditional treat. Dressed up in their orange and black school colors, 10 students and two profressors took on the task of going door to door to collect hygiene items and school supplies. As this was quite an unusual ask, with permission through the neighborhood association at Sturbridge Plantation, students of the NPLA sent out flyers to every home allowing them to prepare for a different type of trick or treating to benefit children in our own community and across the globe.

This year, thanks to the effort of these students and the generosity of the community, we will be able to provide hygiene items and school supplies to children at Mtendere at Mtendere Village (Malawi) and Adullam House (Wetumpka, Alabama). We are very grateful!

Christina Kadzamira, Program Assistant

 

100X is invited to Participate in Anti-Slavery Day in the UK

Pictured L to R: Philip Cameron (Stella’s Voice), Mr. Anthony Steen (Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation), Rt Hon John Bercow (Speaker of the House of Commons), Mr. Peter Bone (Member of Parliament; Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking), Lindy Blanchard, and John Blanchard.

In 1833, the British Parliament abolished slavery in (most of) the British Empire via the Slavery Abolition Act.  Thirty-two years later, the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States.  According to our laws, both countries do not sanction slavery. We thought slavery was abolished in the 19th century, yet today there are tens of thousands of people enslaved in these two countries alone.

Frederick Douglas, a former slave and abolitionist said, “They would not call it slavery, but some other name. Slavery has been fruitful in giving herself names … and it will call itself by yet another name; and you and I and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume, in what new skin this old snake will come forth.” He was right. Today we call it “human trafficking,” and once again, we must expose this practice and declare it unacceptable.

We are grateful that there are leaders in both the US and the United Kingdom that are working to protect victims and prevent children from being traded as commodities, and last week, we were privileged to stand beside some of them.

Just this past week, by invitation from the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Right Honorable John Bercow and Mr. Peter Bone, a Member of Parliament and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, 100X Founders John and Lindy Blanchard traveled to the UK to mark Anti-Slavery Day.  Over the course of two days, they attended the Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking Conference and met with leaders from Parliament and the Council of Europe to discuss how we can leverage our resources and work together to end human trafficking across the globe.  It is evident that these leaders are committed to this fight, and we are honored to stand with them with great expectation of what is to come.

WHAT WE’RE DOING TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today—generating $31.6 billion annually.  Each year more than 1.5 million children are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, and it is estimated that 99% are never rescued.  The innocence of childhood is exchanged for the profit of others.  This is a crime that knows no boundaries—whether geographic, ethnic, or socio-economic—but the most vulnerable are those who have no one to speak for them.  On five continents, we are working on the front lines to prevent children from falling victim to this horrific crime.

Protection and Empowerment. To date, we have partnered with nonprofits across the globe to build 31 houses for orphans and vulnerable children, and in 2011, more than 500 children were reached. Each of our programs provides a safe and loving home environment where children are able to complete their education and learn life skills that will provide the foundation for a hopeful and productive future.  Our work protects the most vulnerable children by providing access to caring adults, educational support, health care and job training.

We recognize that entrapment in human trafficking is often the result of poverty and lack of resources, so we have also established a consortium of university partners who are working with us to develop education and workforce development programs, as well as opportunities for continued education at the university level.

Education and Mobilization.  In a speech before the House of Commons in 1791, William Wilberforce stated, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.” We are committed to exposing the evil of human trafficking, and providing resources for those who choose not to look away. The criminal network working to ensure the continuation of this exploitation is strong, and complete abolition will require engagement at all levels—from students to heads of State.

5 WAYS YOU CAN HELP END HUMAN TRAFFICKING

A few of our favorite things…and other random facts about our team.

A few of my favorite things…

Chocolate. My dogs. My red couch. Sunsets. The smell of dryer sheets. –Dana

Books. Greek Yogurt. A long conversation over a steaming cup of chai  (generally at Starbucks). That moment when the wheels of a plane first lift off the ground. Advocating for women and children. –Kimberly

Chocolate. The beach. Making a difference. Family. Bella (my dog). –Terri

Chockit cookies. Grey’s Anatomy. Autumn. Traveling. Fun family gatherings. –Christina

Reading. Traveling. Playing with Millie and Lucy (my dogs). Sports (particularly basketball, volleyball, and AU football). Swimming. –Katie

What story does your family always tell about you?

The one where days after I graduated from high school I flew (for the first time) to Alaska to work in a fish cannery in order to pay for college.  Of course, that happened to be the summer the fishermen decided to go on strike on our tiny Island, Uganik Bay, and only those who woke up really early were given work. I spent the summer waking up far too early to do whatever was available that day…painting the landing dock (aka airport), driving a pallet jack, etc. –Dana

When I was around 2-3 years old, my mom walked into the kitchen and found me on top of the refrigerator.  Initially, she thought that my dad had put me there as a practical joke (which she didn’t think was very funny), but quickly realized that I stood on the back of a chair, crawled into the freezer, and then pulled myself up to the top.  This, after my dad had informed me a few days before that he’d put my doll on top of the refrigerator if I didn’t behave.  I decided to do a test rescue mission.  Let’s just say that “The Strong-Willed Child” by James Dobson became one of my parents’ most referenced books. –Kimberly

About the time I ran away from summer camp with a chicken…. –Terri [note: We ALL want to hear more details on this…]

How I hated eating and found many ways to dispose of my food secretly.  You see, I thought I was smart about it, but I got caught half the time trying to shove food in my brother’s plate or simply wasting half of my meal under the table.  It took me two hours to finish my meals, and I have many childhood pictures left alone at the dining room table.  The thought shocks me now because I sure love food and my veggies!! –Christina

One time, I spent the night away with a friend.  I was in the first or second grade.  When she was busy, I snuck downstairs to use the phone to call my mom and ask “if she could bring my blanket?”  She didn’t answer, so I left it on an answering machine in a very hushed, secret voice. For some odd reason, my parents LOVE to tell this story. –Katie

If you could choose anyone, whom would you pick as your mentor?

Mother Teresa. –Dana

Christine Caine.  I love her passion for mobilizing the church to do what we are called to do, and am rarely left unchallenged by what she has to say.  She also loves Starbucks, perhaps even more than I do, so really, who could ask for more. –Kimberly

Jesus first…then Margaret Thatcher. –Terri

Anne Ledet (a member of my Church).  I have known her for 5 years and absolutely adore her. –Christina

Good question, but I feel like I have a pretty good one in my mom. –Katie

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Sing and play an instrument. –Dana

To speak French and Italian. –Kimberly

Scuba diving. –Terri

Speak three other languages, and I would love to learn how to play the guitar. –Christina [note: We thought you should know, Christina speaks Chichewa and English, and has a good understanding of French, as well as ancient and classic Latin.]

Heart surgery. –Katie

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you choose?

Oprah. –Dana

It is a toss up between Eleanor Roosevelt and Harriet Beecher Stowe – both women used what was in their hand to catalyze change in their generation.  I love that. –Kimberly

Corrie Ten Boom. –Terri

Oprah Winfrey and/or Nelson Mandela. –Christina

Mother Theresa or Florence Nightingale. –Katie

When you have an hour of free time, how do you pass the time?

I read. –Dana & Terri

I love to find a comfy chair (either at home or a coffee shop), and dig in to a good book.  I almost never leave home without a book, pen and highlighter—just in case the opportunity presents itself. –Kimberly

Take a good ol nap! –Christina

Reading or sleeping. –Katie

What was the last book you read?

Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde & Have a New Teen by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman. –Dana

The Harbinger by Jonathon Cahn. –Terri

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali. –Kimberly

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba.  It is a very good book – it took me back to childhood, and really provides a good understanding of typical life in Malawi for a lot of kids. –Christina

ZOO by James Patterson. –Katie

What is one of your favorite scripture verses?      

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.  If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you?  I’m putting you on a light stand.  Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!  Keep open house; be generous with your lives.  By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5:14-16) –Dana

The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.  (1 John 2:6) –Kimberly

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31) –Terri

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  (Lamentations 3:22-23) –Christina

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Romans 5:3-5)  –Katie

What’s the most played song on your iPod?

O Praise Him (All This For A King) by David Crowder. –Dana

It is a tie – Hands and Feet by Audio Adrenaline and Indescribable by Chris Tomlin. –Kimberly

Above All by Michael W. Smith. –Terri

I have two – Lengoma by Zahara and Beautiful by Phil Wickham. –Christina

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman. –Katie

The 100X Team

P.S. We’d love to hear your response to these questions…leave a comment here or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

The Definition of Nursing

What is nursing?  Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.

To be a nurse, or to study to become a nurse means that an individual must encompass a desire to help others in a holistic way.  Being a nurse means caring for someone physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and medicinally:  in other words, to care for the mind, body and soul.

In my most recent trip to Malawi, I was privileged to witness these definitions of nursing first hand.

Let me back up a little.  As most of you may know, after being an RN in the ICU for over three years,  I have recently transitioned into a full-time job at 100X Development where I will coordinate various nursing projects to help improve the healthcare system in Malawi.  One of the first ways that 100X moved forward in improving healthcare delivery was by developing a consortium of universities, both stateside and in Malawi.  Auburn University (my alma mater) and Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) in Malawi, two leaders in the development of improving the nursing standards both in the classroom and at the bedside, were among the first to join.

One of the most obvious ways to get this started was to send a group of US nursing students to Malawi to work alongside Malawian students–we knew this would stretch, mold and challenge students in a way that far outreaches ANY lesson that can be taught in a classroom.  By traveling to a developing nation where needs are overwhelming and resources are scarce, students would be pushed to the brink of communicating beyond just words, to think beyond the medicine and the machines, and treat over 100 people in a matter of a few hours.

Auburn University School of Nursing (AUSON), under the guidance of Dr. Constance Smith-Hendricks, was ready to meet this challenge head-on, and Kamuzu College of Nursing, under the leadership of Madam Address Malata, welcomed the idea of hosting a group of students that would also provide a new learning experience for her students.

So on September 7, Dr. Hendricks, Dana Blanchard, eight nursing students and I departed for what would be one of the greatest learning experiences any student could ever imagine.  Over the next 10 days, these students witnessed more need and poverty than one could think of.  They treated anywhere from 550 to 700 (hard to keep track of the exact number due to the large crowds) women, children and babies.  Their skills, knowledge and perseverance was challenged as the crowds lined up to wait for hours to see an American nurse, and yet they responded with professionalism and grace.

The AUSON students also experienced the challenges of being a college student in a developing nation by being partnered with a nursing student from KCN. The relationships formed between these student pairs was just another positive outcome in one of the most successful and educational trips that 100X has ever taken part in.  As the days of the trip continued to pass by, the students were able to experience clinical settings ranging from home-based care out in straw-roofed huts, to rural clinics in the middle of villages, a health care center, and even some time in a labor and delivery ward.

The eight student nurses who travelled to Malawi with me were truly impressive young ladies.  While their eyes were opened to an entire new setting of healthcare and a totally new definition of “need”, it was their souls that were touched by the people of Malawi.  They will without a doubt be some of the best-prepared nursing graduates, but even more so, they will be part of forever changing the health care system in a country that so desperately needs a positive change.

Nursing care comes in many forms.  Sometimes it is the ability to make someone feel physically comfortable by various means.  Other times it is the ability to improve the body’s ability to achieve or maintain health.  But often it is an uncanny yet well honed knack to see beyond the obvious and address, in some way, the deeper needs of the human soul. 

~Donna Wilk Cardillo, A Daybook for Beginning Nurses

Katie Sanderson, Program Director for Nursing Education


Blanchards Meet with President Joyce Banda of Malawi

With the critical needs of vulnerable children and families, the ongoing impacts of poverty and disease alongside the ever present challenges of human conflicts, the development sector needs to expand leveraged approaches.  Such approaches must maximize the value for money and multiply resources through collaboration, innovation and effective execution.  

– Lindy Blanchard

In February 2005, at the opening of Mtendere Village, 100X Development’s orphan care program in Malawi, John and Lindy Blanchard met then Minister for Gender and Community Services, Joyce Banda, for the first time. The past seven years have shown that the vision President Banda shared on that day – for the well-being and empowerment of women and children – was more than simple words. She has proven that she is dedicated to them, and is willing to leverage every resource available to her to help improve their circumstances. We are kindred spirits on this.

We were honored that President Banda extended an invitation for John and Lindy to meet with her last week while in New York for the UN General Assembly. During the meeting, they were able to share about the programs that 100X has established in Malawi and about our vision to expand programming to empower women and children for a more hopeful future. We look forward to the opportunity to work with President Banda to help the women and children of Malawi, and are excited to move forward and expand our outreach in the Warm Heart of Africa!

For additional press on this meeting, please visit the following websites: Nyasa Times, Malawi Democrat and MW Nation.

Media Contact: Kimberly Casey, Media@100XDevelopment.com or (202) 509-6005

LEVERAGE: Lindy’s Birthday Wish

Dear friends,

In 2004, John and I started on a journey. At that time, I can honestly tell you that I did not have any idea that it would lead us to where we are today. God has been faithful and our vision continues to expand! 100X Development is based on the principle of Mark 4:8, “Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” A hundredfold. We’re all about leverage—maximizing our gifts and resources to benefit the children and families that we serve.

As I prepare to celebrate my birthday on July 4, these children and families are ever present in my mind. I am reminded of the many children that do not live to see their 5th birthday, and the heartbreak and challenges of families that endure the loss of a child or a mother. I am reminded that there are so many more that we must help.

In the spirit of our founding principle, I want to “leverage” my birthday. Instead of gifts, I am asking my friends, family and supporters of 100X to donate during the month of July towards the 100X project of their choice. Will you join me? Whether you are able to give $10, $100 or $1,000, your gift will change lives. Together, we can make sure that others are able to celebrate many more healthy and happy birthdays!

Many blessings,

Lindy

P.S. If you’re interested in giving up your birthday, you can use our Razoo page to get started. If you have questions, just email Leverage@100XDevelopment.com.

Give a gift

A Spark of Hope

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.  Nelson Mandela

One of my most vivid memories is standing on a pier in Elmina, Ghana and looking into the eyes of a child slave.  I imagine the experience is similar to meeting a child that is entrenched in any abusive situation and does not believe there is any hope for the future.  Everything within me was urging me to take him and flee, but as I looked around it was evident that there were dozens more just like him.  At that moment, I felt as hopeless as he appeared.

I have also had the privilege of meeting survivors of both sex and labor trafficking, and while that does not remove the ache in my heart for the young boy in Ghana, it does renew my hope.  Each person that I have met has been in various stages of recovery—some so recently freed that they still bore physical marks of their abuse—but each has had, at minimum, a spark of hope in their eyes.  Proof that restoration is attainable.

At 100X, we are working hard to make sure that vulnerable children never experience the abuse of human trafficking.  We focus primarily on prevention because we’re aware of the harsh reality that 99% of victims are never rescued.

In the United States, it is estimated that a runaway (or homeless) youth is approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of living on the street.  One in three will be exploited for commercial sex.  The average age of entry into commercial sex?  13.

We also know that children that have been in the foster care system are especially vulnerable—both circumstantially and emotionally.  This is one of the reasons that we are so pleased to have Adullam House as one of our partner organizations.  Adullam House is a 100X partner whose mission is to care for children whose mothers are in prison.  Children at Adullam House are loved and protected—and they are taught that their life has purpose.  Very quickly, the vulnerability created by their past begins to lose ground, and they become less susceptible to recruitment by traffickers.

The vulnerability of youth is compounded in developing countries—especially for young orphans.  The children that we work with in Malawi, Peru, Mexico, India and Uganda face the same challenges as children in the US, but there are even less safeguards and fewer laws to protect them.  In many cases, law enforcement is corrupt and often contributes to the problem.  Exploitation begins at a younger age, and children are often forced across borders—away from all that is familiar.  The same is true in Moldova.

Our work in these countries aims to protect those that traffickers will target most.  In some cases, children have already been exploited before they enter our care.  This is where restoration takes place.  We believe that every child, regardless of past circumstances, has been created for a purpose and we are committed to providing the resources and education they need for a hopeful future.  Last year alone, we were able to protect more than 400 children.

Every child has the right to grow up without fear of exploitation and abuse.  Will you help us reach one more?

How YOU can help LEVERAGE…

Speak UpPost a message on Facebook or Twitter (mention @100XDevelopment or #100X and we’ll respond), send an email, or talk to your friends and co-workers. The more people who know about and support what we are doing directly impacts how much we are able to accomplish!

Givewe want to reach as many young girls as possible, and we cannot do it alone. You can make a donation, give up your birthday, run a marathon—be creative!  We’ve designed a Razoo page to help you get started.

Praypray for the children, for those working to help them, and for exposure of those who are exploiting them.

If you have questions, or want to run an idea by us, email our team at Leverage@100XDevelopment.com.

Kimberly CaseySpecial Assistant and Program Manager

IMPACT: Stephen

As mentioned in previous posts, when Mtendere Village opened in 2005 we had 16 orphans and one housemother.  It has been my privilege to be a “proud mama” and watch these children grow up.  I have witnessed them grow physically, change emotionally, be challenged spiritually, and excel academically.  I love each and every one of them, and as the mother of Mtendere, I have been known to brag.  I simply cannot help myself!  That leads me to Stephen Makasu.

One of the first to arrive at Mtendere, Stephen was more than a little uncertain about what his new life would look like.  He had nothing to compare it to, no one to ask for advice; he was so small, and very shy.  What a difference seven years makes!  Today, Stephen has matured into one of the strongest leaders on campus.

Stephen has led by example in the classroom, as well as on the Mtendere campus, and he instills in our younger kids the drive to be better and work harder.  Always the top student in his class at Bambino (an international school right outside of Lilongwe), he is an intelligent young man who has cultivated his strengths in language and business.

All of us at 100X were exceedingly proud when, in 2010, he finished as the number one student in his German class and was given the opportunity to travel to Germany as part of an exchange program.  Because of his leadership, we flew Stephen to the US where he represented Mtendere Village at our winter benefit.    It is our hope that Stephen will be our first (but not the last) international collegiate student from Mtendere!

On their recent trip to Malawi, Dr. Rick Cook and other Auburn University faculty had the pleasure of meeting Stephen.  Afterward, they shared with me that they were beyond impressed with his confident, yet respectful demeanor.  Of course, my heart swelled with pride!

Through his hard work and commitment, Stephen has been able to participate in experiences that, prior to Mtendere Village, he could not even hope or imagine.  His life exemplifies what we want all of our kids to experience.

Stephen and I both know that much of this would not have been possible without the support of his sponsors, the Knight family.  In addition to financial sponsorship, they have encouraged Stephen through letters and have even traveled to Malawi to meet him.  Because of their dedication to our sponsorship program, the Knights have changed the life of Stephen Makasu.  I am so thankful for them, and for all of our sponsors who help our children achieve their dreams.  Without them, 100X would not be able to care for the 140 children who call Mtendere “home.”  So, we thank you!

If you’d like to join our family of sponsors, visit our Child Sponsorship page, or email Sponsor@100XDevelopment.com for more information.  We’d love to have you!

Dana Blanchard, Director of Operations for Malawi       

What is your fight?

I was in my junior year of undergrad when I first watched the movie Hotel Rwanda—a movie that detailed the story of Paul Rusesabagina and his experience during the Rwandan genocide.  If you haven’t seen it, I recommend a visit to your rental company of choice.

No matter how many times I view the movie, one scene stands out above all others.  The scene begins with Rusesabagina thanking Jack Daglish, a cameraman, for shooting footage of the massacre.

Rusesabagina: I am glad that you have shot this footage and that the world will see it. It is the only way we have a chance that people might intervene.  

Daglish: Yeah and if no one intervenes, is it still a good thing to show?

Rusesabagina: How can they not intervene when they witness such atrocities?

Daglish: I think if people see this footage they’ll say, “oh my God that’s horrible,” and then go on eating their dinners.

I do not know if this conversation portrays an actual conversation between Rusesabagina and Nick Hughes (the man who shot the footage accredited to the fictional Daglish), or if it was scripted for cinematic purposes, but what I do know is that what was predicted came to pass.

In less than 100 days, while families in the US and other developed countries sat down for dinner, 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered.

The Rwandan Genocide is just one example.  Every day, we see evidence of suffering—whether it is walking by a homeless man on the street, viewing a 30 second clip on the evening news, or reading a blog like this one.  The enormity of it all is overwhelming.

  • 26,500 children die every day of preventable causes related to poverty (equivalent to 100 jetliners crashing)
  • 500,000 women die in childbirth every year – deaths that are largely preventable
  • 12.3 million people are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor
  • 163 million children are orphans

This constant bombardment is numbing and often causes us to say, “oh my, that is horrible,” and then go on living our lives.  We erroneously believe that because we cannot solve the entire problem, there is nothing for us to do.

I firmly believe that there are some battlefields that I am not called to fight on.  For example, if the issue involves environment or animal rights issues, please call someone else.  I don’t have the capacity.  That said, I also believe that everyone should pick a fight.  It will be different for everyone, but we all have something that should take us away from our dinners.

I recently met a man who spent several years of his young life as a house slave.  When he was 12 years old, someone intervened.  He was able to attend school for the first time.  Throughout his life, people continued to come alongside and support him.  He finished university, married and developed a successful career.  Today, this man and his wife have established an orphanage to care for similarly vulnerable children.  He has picked his fight.

At 100X we’ve seen similar stories with children like Andiseni and Galina, and our house mom Naomi. The people who intervened didn’t eliminate human trafficking or world hunger, but they did dramatically change one life.  That is what it takes.  If each of us will navigate our way through the deluge of statistics, pick our fight, and find the one life that we can influence, we will be able to press back against the darkness.

What is your fight?  If it is orphan care, education, human trafficking prevention, or health, we’d love for you to join us!

Kimberly CaseySpecial Assistant and Program Manager

Mama Dana

Some of you may be familiar with my title as “Mama Dana” from previous blogs or conversations, but for those who do not, I want to explain a little more about what that means to me.  It is not just a title, but more a term of endearment.

When my family, the Blanchards, started the 100X Development Foundation (then 100X Missions) so many years ago, I was simply a supportive family member of this new dream and goal to start an orphanage in Malawi, Africa.  I knew there was a need and I was excited that my family was able to develop a “program” that was undoubtedly going to save the lives of orphans. However, it was not until after my husband passed away that I really developed more than just a “supportive” role, but more of a desire to travel to Mtendere Village and see what my family was doing on the grounds in Malawi.

In February 2005, on my first trip to Mtendere Village, I fell in love.  Not so much with the country (although it is beautiful), but with the people that I met and the 16 wide-eyed orphans who were now under the care of 100X.  These 16 children were there, because they too, had suffered unimaginable loss and had no one to care for them.  I quickly realized that the number of orphans in the country was far greater than just 16 and that it was essential for us, for me, to do something.

The solution was simple: I wanted to work alongside my family—fulltime—at 100X and I had to move to Malawi! After many family conversations, and much prayer, me and my 8-year-old daughter Alley packed up and moved to Mtendere Village.

We lived there for over a year and spent our time managing, developing, constructing, and expanding Mtendere Village.  I trained the Mtendere Staff the best way I knew how and prayed that it was the right way.  I worked tirelessly to try to prepare the administration to be independent so that they could manage effectively when the time came for me to move back to the US.  We went from having a village of 16 orphans, a staff of 5, and 1 housemother to a village, rather a home of 140 orphans, a staff of 32, and 16 housemothers.

And although this was now my job and the management and administrative perspective was hard work, it was the moments with the orphans, my kids, that meant the most to me.  It was during these moments and times that I no longer was just a woman on “the job” but a mother to those who no longer had parents.  So, although I am mom to only one, I am “Mama Dana” to almost 200 people in a country that most are not even familiar with.

Alley and I no longer live in Malawi, but I do spend every summer there and whenever I have the chance, I go home—to my other children, to the place that stole my heart and instilled a passion in me nearly 8 years ago.  I have many more stories and moments to be shared, but for now, hopefully this will give you a glimpse of why the name “Mama Dana” is a such a sweet sound to my ears.

You can help 100X continue to expand and save the lives of orphans in Malawi by donating here.

Dana Blanchard, Director of Operations for Malawi