Welcome our new Summer intern Lauren Murphy!

Unite is thrilled to welcome our new summer intern Lauren Murphy. Lauren just completed her Junior year at High Point University in North Carolina where she studies Strategic Communications and Documentary Media. She has worked with many non-profit organizations before including Reading Connections where she helped provide video and PR marketing for events. Lauren is currently apart of Ascension 336, which is a public relations agency at High Point University, and she is also a member of High Point's news team, Triad News 360. For Unite, Lauren is working on editing images using photoshop and editing video clips to be featured on our social media platforms.

 

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WE ARE "SEARCHERS"

 While often overwhelming, debilitating, humiliating and dangerous...extreme poverty is NOT insurmountable. 

While often overwhelming, debilitating, humiliating and dangerous...extreme poverty is NOT insurmountable. 

The great Ophelia Dahl, daughter of author Roald Dahl, co-founder of Partners in Health and modern-day warrior in the fight to end global poverty and "serve as an antidote to despair," is defined in this December issue of The New Yorker as a Searcher. In the world of development, a Searcher is one who is just on the lookout for favorable opportunities to solve problems—any problem, no matter how big or small. 

Here at Unite, we too are Searchers. We make long-term commitments and understand that in order to reach our very specific and targeted goals we may often be pulled this way and that by favorable opportunities to solve problems, big and small, which cannot be ignored.

For example, education. In order to empower a child to succeed, one must ensure far more than a seat at a high-quality school... Instead, in order to thrive EVERY CHILD needs a safe, clean place in which to live; clean water, proper sanitation and nutritious meals; a safe way to get around, to transport; at least one trustworthy adult to supervise and advocate; peer support; opportunities to explore their talents and interests outside of school; and medical care -- preventative and acute. And, by paying close attention, we often uncover other needs and challenges that we may or may not be prepared for. So, with our Tanzanian partners, we search for ways navigate these often unexpected potholes and pitfalls, detours and demands, road blocks and ransoms... these problems... and we FIND our way. 

As we pause to celebrate this holiday season and prepare for the new year, I invite US ALL to take a moment to meditate on the Sustainable Development Goals (listed below) that were designed by the United Nations to stimulate aggressive problem-solving action around the world.

The burden of responsibility belongs to each and every one of us. Daunting? Perhaps. However, with it comes a unparalleled opportunity to -- as Searchers who are just on the lookout for favorable opportunities to solve problems, big and small -- help transform the human experience and ensure very survival of our precious Planet. Now THAT is something to celebrate.

 

"We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions,
and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality
and in a healthy environment."
-The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest. ~Nelson Mandela

The Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

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Sources:

  • https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld
  • https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/12/18/ophelia-dahls-national-health-service
  • The White Man's Burden, by William Easterly

Unite's 2017 Holiday Wish List

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage.
— Lao Tzu

For friends and loved ones who have it all, why not give in their honor to those who have nothing at all?

Click HERE to make a tax-deductible donation. Just cite an item (or two) from our wishlist below,
 email anne@uniteafricafoundation.org the details of your gift and recipient, and she will mail him/her a letter to be opened over the holidays.
Selflessly serving those who will likely never be able to do anything for you return fosters a deep and unparalleled
sense of joy, contentment and fulfillment. Each and every one of us is wildly powerful, and what we do -- and don't do -- 
will contribute to either the healing -- or the destruction -- of our precious planet.

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Meet Maria, the newest child to join our growing St. Joseph's Family

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Maria, now nearly two years old, is the newest child to join our family at the St Joseph’s Orphanage (SJO) in Tanzania. Maria is extremely malnourished and suffers from flat feet and fluorosis of the legs. (In certain areas of Tanzania, there is too much fluoride naturally occurring In the water, which can make the bones of young children soft and cause them to bend in unnatural ways.)

This week Sister Crispina Mnate, founder and director of SJO, took Maria to see our friends at The Plaster House in Arusha for an assessment. Next steps: Sister will now take Maria to be fitted for leg braces that she will wear for at least a year to correct her flat foot and move her legs into proper position. She will also start an aggressive nutrition-rich re-feeding program with weekly weight checks. While baby Maria has clearly suffered a painful start to her young life, we are thankful that she is now at SJO where she will receive great love and excellent care. 

 

Award-winning artist gifts work to Unite

A sustainable world means working together to create prosperity for all.
— Jacqueline Novogratz
 Bull Elephant,, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania, 2009 Mixed media, photography, encaustic, 16x20 on wood panel

Bull Elephant,, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania, 2009
Mixed media, photography, encaustic, 16x20 on wood panel

Award-winning American contemporary painter, photographer and mixed media artist Andrea Bonfils has created a unique “Encaustic” work of art by taking an original photograph taken by Unite Founder & Director Anne Wells and adding to it melted beeswax, resin and other natural materials. Andrea has very generously donated this piece to Unite for our fundraising efforts. Andrea’s work is represented by galleries in New Mexico, Connecticut, South Carolina and in the Bruce Lurie Gallery in Los Angeles, is in corporate and private collections worldwide and can be seen at www.andreaartstudio.com.  

The cost for the elephant encaustic above is $1,500.
100% will be donated to Unite The World With Africa Foundation
by artist Andrea Bonfils. 

My work is inspired by the beauty of our world, and with this elephant photograph I haveI literally encased it in the natural material of beeswax (also known as encaustic painting). Whether one is working to protect land or a human or animal life, we must stand UNITED in this fight to save our planet Earth.
— Andrea Bonfils, artist
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See more of Andrea's work, which includes photography, encaustics, paintings and multimedia designs, at www.andreaartstudio.com. For any purchase made before January 1, 2018, that comes through Unite, Andrea will donate 30% of sales to our Foundation.

Meet Unite's SOUL WARRIOR, David Wells

Unite The World With Africa Foundation's founding board member David Wells summited Mt. Kilimanjaro with his HIKE FOR HEAVEN team this June to support Unite's work with The Heaven Pre & Primary School. To prepare for this herculean adventure, David spent six months riding a few times each week at the infamously rigorous SOUL CYCLE. Here below, SOUL features David and his inspiring story.

  David Wells, left, with Nicky B, his Soul-Cycle instructor in Westport, CT.

David Wells, left, with Nicky B, his Soul-Cycle instructor in Westport, CT.

"In the fall of 2016, I made the decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with four friends to support the Heaven School and St. Joseph’s orphanage. I had no prior experience with a climb of this type, so I needed to get in shape… fast.

We had moved to Westport, Connecticut in late 2015 — less than half a mile from the SoulCycle studio. My wife and daughter had taken some classes and they encouraged me to join them. My sister Linda has also been going to SOUL in New York City for years and loves it. Thankfully, the women in my family are the trailblazers.

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I went into my first class feeling nervous, excited, and clueless. I had not really exercised for more than 25 years but was reasonably fit... or so I thought. SOUL took it to a whole new level. I felt the effects immediately. I felt (and continue to look) like I'd been through a monsoon after each class – and I keep coming back! I was hooked. The fun, energy, and challenge brought me back. The instructors and staff at WSPT are also fantastic – each and every one of them.

I felt an immediate and sustained impact on my energy level, strength, and lung capacity. I knew I was on the right path for my climb, as well as my health and sanity. I work long hours and travel quite a bit so the efficiency of SoulCycle — spending 45 minutes to an hour on full throttle — is perfect for me. My mind is clearer, my body is stronger, my energy is way level up. I have lost a few pounds and my stress level is down. One of the instructors at Wesport, JULIANNE, shouts out in class that we are “creating energy, not consuming it." I love that mantra.

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With SOUL, any concerns I had on my strength to do the hike washed quickly away. My legs, arms, core and lungs were ready — and delivered for me all the way to the summit of Kilimanjaro and the roof of Africa. We successfully completed the climb and reached our goals in the process.

Through our Unite the World with Africa Foundation and a community of committed U.S. donors and volunteers, we're supporting 48 orphans — ages 9 months to 24 years old. Six are now in university, including one who's enrolled in medical school. The purpose of our Kilimanjaro climb (or Hike for Heaven) was to build and expand the Heaven School, a 200+ student primary school in Tanzania that provides outstanding education for these orphans and the surrounding community. We are still raising funds to complete the school expansion. The opportunity to do this work with my wife Anne, and have a seat at the table to engage with extraordinary Tanzanians to make this happen, excites me each and every day when I think about where these amazing children can take their lives.

Back home, SOUL has brought our family closer. A few times, all five of us (me, my wife and three daughters) took a class together, riding side-by-side in the back row. It has shown each of us a different side to the other — a healthy side committed to exercise and fun." ~David Wells

ANNOUNCING OUR NEW "GREER SCHOLARS"

The Greer Foundation recently announced their continued commitment to Unite by providing university/college scholarships for seven children from the St. Joseph's Orphanage, each of whom is now referred to as a “Greer Scholar.” These lucky Greer Scholars are studying Engineering, Tax & Customs, Education & Teaching, Wildlife Tourism Management, and Medicine & Surgery. 

Why is this so important? 

Tanzania is one of our world’s poorest countries (ranked 156 out of 174 in the UN’s Human Development Index) with 68% of the population living below the international poverty line earning $1.25 or less a day. Nearly half of Tanzania’s 51,000,000 population is age 14 or younger; more than half of all girls have given birth by age 19; and 70% of women are married by age 20.

The country’s formal education system comprises of two years of pre-primary, seven years of primary (Standards 1-7), four years of junior secondary (Forms 1-4), two years of senior secondary (“A-levels,” Forms 5 & 6), and three or more years of tertiary (university/college). However, attaining access to any amount of schooling continues to be a great challenge for the vast majority of Tanzanians. In fact, the average school life expectancy (primary to tertiary) remains just eight years.

Those who are lucky enough to enroll in and complete primary and secondary school and then go on to attend university know that theirs is an extraordinary, precious and rare privilege. The slogan “Education is liberation” can be seen painted on buildings, printed on T-shirts and heard chanted over and over again in classrooms and as one walks through towns and villages.

~Net enrollment in senior secondary school in Tanzania is just 1.9%
and less than ½ of 1% (.27%) go on to university/college.

The good news for the orphans of St. Joseph’s is that they have already overcome many of the core barriers to education that face most impoverished families across East Africa. Thanks to the remarkable dedication of Unite's partner St. Joseph’s founder & director Sister Crispina Mnate, these orphans have avoided the widespread challenges of gender bias, physical threats of violence and abuse, child labor, lack of access to quality schools, pregnancy (for the girls), lack of adequate nutrition and healthcare, and/or a safe home to which to live/return. While each of these children experienced some kind of early childhood trauma and/or loss, their lives at St. Joseph’s have been built upon a powerful foundation of faith, love and hope. 

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The global rates of return for graduates of tertiary education are the highest in the entire educational system—with an average of an 17% increase in earnings; and returns on investments in higher education in Africa are the highest in the world at 21%.
— World Bank Group

We are so thankful for this powerful partnership with The Greer Foundation. Over the years they have helped us complete the build out of the Heaven Pre & Primary School to provide a top-quality English-speaking education to the youngest orphans from St. Joseph's as well as more than 200 at-risk children from surrounding villages; install comprehensive rain-water harvesting systems to secure water; bring power to the St. Joseph's and Heaven campus; and send many of our oldest orphans to university. Today, their commitment continues to grow. Asante sana!

Hand in hand, Unite and The Greer Foundation will continue to
serve, educate and uplift the lives of these precious and worthy young men and women.
May they each become the great leaders of tomorrow that Tanzania,
East Africa and the world beyond so desperately needs.


Mama musings for Love Warriors Everywhere

 With baby Lila, St Louis 2001.

With baby Lila, St Louis 2001.

On December 23, 2000, at 6:00 pm I gave birth to my first daughter, Lila Talbott Wells. Until that moment, truthfully, I wasn't very interested in children. Mine or anyone else's. They were cute but distracting, often even a bit annoying. 

Then she came and, as it happens with every new mother, my heart burst open with a force of love I had never known possible. 16 months later I was pregnant again, thrilled to be delivering a sibling for precious Lila, and questioning how on Earth I could love another one as much as I did her. February 23, 2003, Harriett Merriman Wells was pulled from my cut belly and whisked to the NICU. A ferocious love literally pulled my broken body out of bed and down the long hall so I could sit with my baby - against doctors' orders. What I knew then was that my love pie did not split to accommodate another child, it grew & expanded. Deep within my core, from a source unknown, flowed more and more reckless LOVE.

Over the years I have continued to fall in love with children... not just my own (our third Katharine Elizabeth Wells came on March 4, 2005), but ALL of the children of the world. And I have learned that my heart is big enough.

***

My husband David will climb Africa's tallest peak Mt Kilimanjaro in a month to support Unite's work with Sister Crispina Mnate and her St. Joseph's Orphanage and Heaven School. In preparation, he (out of necessity) and I (for moral support) have been going to spinning classes at Soul Cycle, the most challenging and intense form of exercise I have ever done in my entire life (sad, but true). One day, during one class, one instructor said off the cuff, "You must use up all of your energy before you can make more. Trust your body." In that moment, with my burning legs going round and round and sweat dripping from the tip of my nose, I got it.

*** 

When my girls were babies I breastfed each of them exclusively for more than a year. Anyone who knows me might just take one look and assume that this was easy given my naturally well-endowed bosom. Not so. Those first few days, weeks and often months were littered with moments of excruciating pain and utter desperation. There were times (now known to be growth spurts) that my babies would suck on my breasts for hours upon hours leaving me exhausted, flattened, cracked and bleeding. They screamed and I wept, unsure I was capable of providing what they needed. New mommies are often advised during these times to supplement to more quickly ease the discomfort, the babies' and our own. Rarely are we advised to wait. To endure. To trust that our bodies, if given the chance, from somewhere deep within our core, will create more.

***

To me, love is like energy and a mother's milk. It is only after we give away all we believe we have, when we are certain we have not an ounce left within us and when our rational selves are screaming at us to pull back, retreat, protect... that we are able to access that place where supply is infinite. When breastfeeding, the front milk which flows easily and often at the most inopportune times (e.g. at the cry of a strangers' child, which of course reinforces my belief that all women are mamas of the world) is not the most nutritious. Instead, it is the hind milk found in the very depths of the breast that is loaded with fat and nutrients. And reaching these precious life-sustaining droplets takes time, patience, commitment and often a great deal of discomfort. Yet, once shared, the child thrives and the mother, when allowed to honor herself and her body's natural process, will survive and will source more. 

***

One of the many reasons I cherish my work with Unite and return to Tanzania as often as possible is that in this journey I have met countless women who support and care for (in one way or another) children who are not biologically their own. Whether she embraces the weeping child of a stranger, welcomes hungry children to her table even when food is scarce, pays an orphans' school fees or raises children of the less fortunate as her own, never does she turn a blind eye to need. From such women as these who step forward to love and serve as best they can (often with the scantest of resources) and who support one another other in doing the same, I have been inspired and blessed to find and tap my own inner infinite supply of powerful, life-changing, life-giving love. And for that... for them... I am eternally grateful.

Today, with our three daughters, four dogs, and now 47 orphans.... I have a hunch and a prayer that we are just getting started. 

  At St. Joseph's Orphanage with (left to right) Gabriel, Max, Michael, Irene and Bryan... five of 47 opportunities to love bigger!

At St. Joseph's Orphanage with (left to right) Gabriel, Max, Michael, Irene and Bryan... five of 47 opportunities to love bigger!

EY Announces Hike for Heaven

EY Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) colleagues to “Hike for Heaven,” scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro to benefit education charity

 

A group of TAS colleagues are taking volunteering to new heights as they undertake a “Hike for Heaven” up Mt. Kilimanjaro to benefit a school for underprivileged children. They are even using their TAS skills to assist in the school’s expansion—all part of their EY-driven mission of building a better working world.

On 15 June, TAS Partners David Wells and Steve Stafford along with Senior Managers Steve Ho and David Doherty will embark on a weeklong climb of Africa's highest peak (19,341 feet). It’s part of Unite the World with Africa Foundation’s campaign to raise $100,000 to expand the Heaven School in rural northern Tanzania.

In Tanzania, the majority of the population earn less than $2 per day. Securing a high-quality, English-speaking education is often unobtainable, but the Heaven School—a private English-medium school that serves students ages 3–14 in 10 classrooms—is dedicated to teaching these children in need. Heaven was recently cited as a model English-medium school in the region.

The funds raised by our TAS colleagues’ climb will help expand the school’s capacity from 270 students to more than 500. This will allow the school to become financially self-sustaining, having a direct and positive impact on the lives of the orphans and children from surrounding rural villages. It will also provide much-needed employment for the community to serve as teachers, administrators and support staff.

Prior to the climb, David, David, Steve and Steve will spend time meeting with administrators at the Heaven School. There, they will help prepare a strategic plan for the expansion, along with budgets and tracking tools for the school's financial performance. Following their climb, the TAS colleagues’ commitment to the school will continue, through ongoing mentoring and checking in on progress and milestones achieved.

David Wells explained his motivation for undertaking this impressive endeavor. “Access to a quality education empowers people in countless ways—lifting economic standards, creating job opportunities, enhancing skills, fostering collaboration, celebrating our differences and, thereby, promoting peace,” he said. “My parents said to me that the best gift we give our children is a great education. With our Hike for Heaven, we give that gift, and all of its benefits and possibilities, to these children of Tanzania—providing all of us with the building blocks to a better working world.”

Steve Stafford further elaborated: “EY’s purpose of building a better working world has four pillars—sustainable growth, developing talent and leadership, collaboration, and trust and confidence. Our Hike for Heaven aligns perfectly with these core values. Unite the World with Africa Foundation’s efforts to provide education, healthcare and opportunities for at-risk women and children in Tanzania develops and inspires young minds, instilling trust and confidence in themselves and the broader world. Each member of our team is honored to assist and collaborate with Unite’s goal, and we are sure the people who benefit from the hike will contribute to a better working world in ways we can’t imagine today.”

If you would like to support our TAS colleagues’ monumental trek and learn more about their experience, please visit the Hike for Heaven homepage.

Unite the World with Africa Foundation is a 501c3 tax-exempt public charity. David Wells is the co-founder and treasurer of Unite, a 100% volunteer organization whose mission is to empower education, health, choice and dignity for impoverished communities across East Africa.

11 May 2017

 

Our Spring Report is LIVE!

 Unite's travel team with Sister Crispina Mnate and many of the orphans of St. Joseph's on an educational field trip to Meserani Snake Park outside of Arusha, Tanzania. March 2017

Unite's travel team with Sister Crispina Mnate and many of the orphans of St. Joseph's on an educational field trip to Meserani Snake Park outside of Arusha, Tanzania. March 2017

 

Dear Friends of Unite,                                                              

I hope and pray this finds you happy, healthy and well. I am just now home from another whirlwind tour across Tanzania’s northern circuit with a team of magnificent women (each of whom generously sponsor one or more of our children at the St. Joseph’s Orphanage). I am thankful to report this was another hugely successful mission. We spent time with Sister Crispina Mnate and the orphans of St. Joseph’s as well as the headmaster, staff & students of The Heaven Primary School. We took many of the orphans on two field trips: To the “Guggenheim of Africa,” an art gallery atArusha’s Cultural Heritage center, where they learned about various art forms and watched the movie The Lion King on the big screen; and to the Meserani Snake Park where they learned about all the kinds of snakes (they even had the chance to hold one non-venomous ... of course) and go on camel rides! Lots of “firsts” for these kiddos and tons of fun for us all. Later in the trip, while my friends went on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater and on a day-climb of Mt Kilimanjaro, I took our Tanzanian executive team (below) on a due diligence trip to benchmark our performance against other reputable schools and children’s villages. We found that our students are exceeding norms in behavior and performance, including outcomes on critical national exams. In fact, the Heaven School is already being cited as a model primary school and St. Joseph’s the example of a well-run orphanage by local authorities. Additionally, we are already seeing the positive impact of our newest teammate Astridah Katalyeba who brings to Unite and Heaven more than 30 years of experience as an educator in Africa. Astridah is advocating for our secondary school and university students in ways we were not able to before. Astridah is accelerating and supporting Sister’s commitment to making Heaven best in class by organizing and executing a series of faculty training workshops to make the classrooms more participatory and interactive through the use of techology, visual aids and more. We are thrilled with and energized by all the great progress we are seeing, and we are deeply grateful to each and everyone of you who has helped in any and every way to make this work possible. As always, I welcome your comments, questions, ideas and feedback.

Yours in service, 

Anne Wells