LEVERAGE: The Warm Heart of Africa

The Warm Heart of Africa

by Blair Brendle 

The “Warm Heart of Africa” is this country’s nickname

The beauty in the faces has given it its fame

A place of peace, jokes, and constant smiles

A place of strength, endurance, and perseverance for the miles

But most importantly to me, this country holds a special place

A village full of children that could have easily been erased

Because though this country is beautiful, it is struggling all the same

Not enough food, too much disease, poor education, a cyclic game

But this one special village is trying to make a break

To the cycle of helplessness, loss, hunger, disease, and mistake

This village has a dream to empower and equip

The next generation to get out from under injustice’s grip

This dream is big and lofty, of course this much is true

But one day at a time, they’re doing all that they can do

Within this village resides almost 200 of its nation’s best

Whose pasts are full of darkness, but whose futures can be blessed

This village’s name means peace; in Chichewa it’s called Mtendere

But it’s more than just tranquility or resting for the weary

It’s a place where within the peace, true restoration occurs

Where what was, is replaced with what can be; where true redemption stirs

Where acceptance, adoption, and forgiveness are part of each day

Where The Truth and The Life are ever exposing The Way

It’s a tiny little village in stark contrast to a great big earth

But to all who step foot on it, it grants a chance for new birth

It’s a slice of kingdom on this side of glory

And I’m so thankful that for three weeks I got to be a part of its story

Blair spent three weeks at our orphan care program in Malawi this summer.  She drafted this poem shortly after her return.  We are always very excited to see people leveraging their talents for good!  

IMPACT: From Dasa

We received the following letter from Dasa, and wanted to shared how your support has impacted this young girl’s life.  It is YOUR support allows us to reach children with stories similar to Dasa, so we believe this letter is for you as well.  Thank you for your partnership!

Dear 100X Development Team,

My name is Feodosia Rosca but everyone calls me Dasa Cameron.  When I was born, my father rejected me for not being a boy, and at two years of age, my mom abandoned me too.  I stayed in my uncle’s house for a few years, where his wife started each day by telling me that I was a mistake.  She would tell me that I was going to grow up and became “nothing” like my mom.

After a few years, my uncle sent me to the largest orphanage in Moldova, a place with 850 children—my “home” for the next seven years.  I hated the world.  I hated myself.  All I knew at that moment was that I wasn’t wanted, accepted or loved.

Being an orphan is not easy no matter where you are in the world, we all feel the same, we all have the same questions inside our hearts, we all share the same fears, and we all shared tears for years and years.  We have no hope.  When kids think of themselves as nothing, they never dare to dream.

In my country, when you turn 16 you have to leave the orphanage and manage in life on your own. Most of the kids never make it.  Life is so rough on us that most give up even before they start.  When you go into the world, everyone sees you as a thief, liar…you are the worst there can possibly be.

When my time came to leave the orphanage, I thought my life would end.  I had nowhere to go, but I am thankful to Jesus that he had a plan.  Through 100X’s partnership with Stella’s House, I was given a place to live.  I learned that Jesus is real, that he loves me like no one else, and that has a great plan for my life.  Most of all, I learned that I was not a mistake.  God doesn’t make mistakes.

I want to say thank you to 100X for giving me the opportunity and honor to study in America.  It means a lot that you believe in me—that you don’t look at me as an orphan.

I never dreamt when I was an orphan, but since I have Jesus in my heart, He has allowed me to dream…and dream big.  He took me from an orphanage school desk to a university in America.

100X, you are amazing.  You give kids like me hope; you take us in your arms and don’t let us go until you are sure we can fly on our own.  I want to say thank you for being His example on earth.

–Dasa Cameron

Will you give a gift today that will help us reach more children like Dasa?


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

Madison Shared Her Birthday…and You Can Too!

 

Do you often think there is little that you personally can do to help change the life of an orphan?  Then you should meet Madison!

Madison is five years old.  Like any five year old, she loves to play with her friends, eat ice cream for breakfast (not that her mom allows this!), and “mother” her little brotherBut, Madison is not like other girls in every way.  At five years old, we can already tell that she is going to be a world changer.  After all, she’s already put a smile on the face of 140 orphaned children in Malawi.

Shortly before her 5th birthday, Madison learned that there were children in Malawi without moms and dads who didn’t get big birthday parties, or a lot of gifts.  Wanting to help, Madison asked her mom and dad if, instead of birthday presents for herself, she could ask her friends and family to give money to the kids at Mtendere Village.  Her very proud parents quickly agreed, and Madison raised $350 for the children of Malawi.

Madison had no idea that the money she raised would be enough to throw a birthday party for the entire village!  This brought so much joy to the children—many of whom never celebrated before arriving at Mtendere and do not even know the MONTH they were born.  After the party, we received this note from Grecian, the Administrator at Mtendere Village: “On behalf of Mtendere staff members and children I want to thank Madison for the KIND GESTURE, we do not take it for granted, we pray for her to have many blessings from the Mighty God.”

We are honored and proud to have so many people standing beside us as we strive to care for orphans around the world.  With girls like Madison involved, we’re confident that it is just a matter of time until being an orphan will no longer mean that you have no hope for the future!

Interested in giving up your birthday…running a marathon, or whatever other creative idea you can think of, to support 100X?  We’ve made it easy!  Visit our Razoo page to start now, or email leverage@100XDevelopment.com for more info.

 

Continuing Together

On February 19, 2005, my family and I stood beside Chief Napoleon Dzombe and the Minister of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services for the opening ceremony at Mtendere Village in Malawi. After the ceremony, I had the privilege of speaking with the Minister about our vision for Mtendere Village and our hope that every child living there would now be able to look to the future with great hope and expectation. I wanted them to know that their status as an orphan would never limit their vision for the future.

On that day, I was grateful to the Minister for her support of Mtendere Village and the example that she set for the young girls in our care. Over the years, I have watched as her influence in the country has increased—first as Foreign Minister, then Vice President—and have been encouraged by her unwavering support of women and children. Now, as the first female President of Malawi, it is my sincere hope that the girls at Mtendere will look to President Joyce Banda as an inspiration and an example of what is possible.

We are grateful for President Banda’s continued support of the work that we are doing, and we look forward to partnering with her to increase opportunities for the women and children of Malawi.

Lindy Blanchard, Co-Founder and President

One Day Without Shoes 2012

Regardless of your cause or your passion, we hope that ODWS inspires you to think about the world in a different way, and to believe that even one off-beat idea can bring people together to create something positive.

– Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS Shoes

Imagine for a moment what it would be like to walk barefoot everyday.  How would it impact your daily life?  Today is TOMS’ One Day Without Shoes and they’re asking everyone to step out of their shoes in solidarity of the children who are growing up barefoot, and our team at 100X has decided to join them.

Hundreds of millions of children are at risk of injury and soil-transmitted diseases such as jiggers and ringworm because they do not have proper protection for their feet.  A large portion of those children are also not allowed to attend school simply because shoes are part of the required uniform.

Have you ever counted the number of shoes in your closet?  It isn’t something that I normally keep track of, but I thought it would be helpful to have some perspective as I prepared for today.  After scanning my closet—and grabbing the pair of pumps I kicked off in the living room—I had a number.  31.  I could officially go an entire month without wearing the same pair of shoes.

All things considered, I think I’ll take the $39 I budgeted for a new pair of flats and put it towards something a little more valuable.  What’s your number?

Want to get involved? Our programs provides shoes, and so much more!

Kimberly Casey, Special Assistant and Program Manager