Friday, July 27, 2012

T shirts! or, How I Saved the World Eleven Dollars At a Time.

Most of you already have a t shirt or two, so...I need your help selling the rest! Sell them to your friends! Your neighbours! Your co workers! Give them to people as wedding gifts!

No, seriously.

We have a few t shirts left in each size (and some sizes are sold below) and not only would  my parents like their basement back, but I would like to make a little more money so we can finish our building over here.

A lot of you have given what you can, and that's great. Your generosity astounds me daily. But we need more. More people, more money, more energy poured into this wonderful, beautiful project.

So would you please do me a favour, and share this post? Link it to your blog, your facebook page, your twitter page...instagram it. Pin it. Share it! Please please please? And thank you.

We have our new(er) t shirts, which are $9.50 plus shipping:

Which, as you can see, are not only beautiful and interesting, but make you look cool when you are hiking, exploring, taking pictures, kissing your loved one or catching a frisbee in mid-air.
(The text is our mission statement, basically.)

(Please note: women's run ridiculously small, because American Apparel has special ideas about the human body. Buy at least once size bigger than you normally would.) 

Grey Africa Shirts with White Text: ($9.50)

And we have our original t-shirts, which are $7.50 plus shipping:

Which are on super sale, and, are sweatshop free and made in the US.

 Also, the more I think about this message, the more I like them. The text reads, 'This shirt is a fence, a well, a library and hope'. And it is. We are actually BUILDING, and will soon provide kids with security and material comforts and books and pencils and clothing and a future. And it's because of YOU.
(Woman's sizes are slightly less ridiculous, but shrink- so I'd buy a size up again. Sorry.)

Original Acacia Tree Shirts: ($7.50)

In conclusion, you should buy a shirt RIGHT NOW. Or, you should tell your friends to buy one

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Food Distribution in the Slums

Over the past few years, as we've been developing our plans and raising the money to finish our home, Susan and I have worked to establish a relationship with the people who live in the slum near our apartment. We want them to know who we are, and know Visible Grace well, and, to be honest, I am so eager to be doing something, anything to help- so we go to the slums and we visit people, bringing them prayers and food and clothing.

The slums that run behind Ngong Town
Millions of people in Kenya survive on $2 or less per day. This is not enough to thrive. We want to go into the slums near Saturday, July 28th to distribute food and clothing to our neighbours there.

$8.50 will buy groceries for a family for one week. We want to raise enough money to feed twenty families...or more! Can you help?

Next weekend I will post pictures of my time in the slums as well as details about how we are trying to help the kids who live there. Some of the orphaned children from this area will be the ones living on our land!
One of the children we met in the slums last year.

We need 20 people to donate $8.50 apiece. If this is something you are interested in doing- having an immediate and positive impact on someone in need- please click on the PayPal button to the right of this post. All donations are tax deductible!

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

on the personal side: a day in the life of Ashby

A few of you have asked me what I do every day.

This morning we had visitors- Wilson's cousins- who I enjoyed meeting a lot! I ended up picking their brains about second hand children's clothing, sustainable farming, bio-gas, and solar power. because of course I did. I'm an Oregonian on a mission. They are going to take me clothes shopping (once we have kids to shop for, of course) and I'm confident we'll be getting the best bargain possible.

Then I went to Ngong to scope out the market (think farmer's market, but a tiny bit noisier) and a couple wholesale stores to figure out the MOST affordable way to feed our (future) kiddos. This involved riding three different buses, saying hi to whoever I ran into who recognized or knew me, and buying myself a shawl in Ngong because it was super cold today... I splurged on a cup of real coffee and spent some time making notes in my journal. I have so many nerdy menu ideas for our kids (basically I want kids! now!)

On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store near our apartment to buy some vinegar. On my way out they gave me free clothespins and soap! Susan is jealous and said they never give her free stuff. Ha! My new idea is asking for free stuff every time we go to the store, and saving it all up for VG. So far we have...20 clothespins and one bar of soap.
Your day probably isn't complete without a picture of me and my niece. I get it. Mine isn't complete without it either.

Finally finally home- with Susan's help I tied the baby onto my back, and then I started cutting up tomatoes and onions for dinner. Dinner, I should mention, is no small task. EVERYthing is made from scratch. Everything. Homemade croutons. Homemade tomato sauce. Homemade salad dressing. I learned how to light a charcoal stove today.

(Dinner by the way was awesome- soybeans in homemade bbq sauce, rice, a green salad and garlic bread. I win.)

(I NEVER cook back in the States. Cooking here takes time and effort and creativity. So I'm proud of my food!)
THEN after dinner- and watching and discussing the news with Susan and Wilson- I hopped onto my computer to catch up on emails, which vary from 'how are ya?' to auction planning to budgeting and bill pay and answering questions for my amazing volunteers and trying to get in touch with donors. Oh, and a bit of research on converters and adapters, because I want to sew this weekend!

Basically...a lot. I do a lot every day. Doesn't sound like a lot? You try flagging down a bus on market day in rush hour.  :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

mattresses and soap and other practical things.

Susan and I have been researching the prices of everything we need for our children's home- from $150 bunk beds to ten-cent cloves of garlic. we are working on a house budget, a weekly menu, a monthly budget... we have spreadsheets coming out our ears. it's fun for me to hunt down the cheapest pots and pans, the best deal on toilet paper. it's fun (??) for Susan to cross-examine the prices in an excel spreadsheet. to each their own. anyway...

if you feel so inclined, would you consider donating? you can buy a bed (or mattress!) for a child who, tonight, is probably sleeping on the ground. you can buy fruits and vegetables for a child who is likely malnourished. you can donate in ANY AMOUNT. every bit helps.

help us out here: Visible Grace® or click on the PayPal link to the right of this page. seriously- every bit helps. lots more details to come, I assure you, on budgets and on my pipedreams of home-making here in Kenya. : )

thank you, friends. (oh...and do me a favour and pass this along? you're the best. thanks.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

tea and sympathy

Dim sunlight filters in through the window and spills onto the small table in the center of the room, illuminating cups of hot, sweet tea, a plate of soft, white bread and a basin of cool water. The heels of my shoes are sinking into the mud floor. Rows of stools and small chairs fill the edges of the room. A single bed sits to one side of the room; a sheet hanging from the ceiling separates 'bedroom' from 'sitting room'. A knife leaning against the window sill denotes 'kitchen'. 

We are crowded together in this small home, knees meeting awkwardly as we hunch over our seats and reach for our tea. Mine is hot, too hot to drink anytime soon. I grasp the cup and wait. A small girl wearing a ski cap stands in the doorway watching me solemnly. She reaches for my hand. She takes some bread. She barely moves when a chicken pushes past her to get into the house.

Now from the bed in the corner comes the soft crying that reminds us why we are here. The baby's mother is young. Too young, and she delivered her baby three nights ago, in her home, alone. We want to see the baby, to hold her. We give the mother food, and clothing, and diapers, and prayers and advice: please, please keep her warm. Keep breastfeeding. Go to a clinic. Take her for a check up. Please. Please. Please.

And now I'm taking pictures to print for them later; pictures of the grandmother, of the mother, of the baby, of the neighbour girl in her cap. Pictures of our tea and our bread. Kim helps: pictures of my thumb, of his chin, of our toes. 

And now we're praying and now we're standing to leave and now we are walking home and all I can do, all we can do, is pray that the mother stays healthy, that she receives the help she needs, that she does the best she can.

             It's all any of us can do: the best we can. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Visible Grace History: part three (I'm pretending to write a book)

(part two is here.)

I left off with the entrance of a ‘young college student who thinks she knows everything’. Heh. You see, I was studying child development. I was an expert on all things kid-related, and I knew what was best for them, because my text books and teachers told me so. Plus, I’d taken the American Red Cross Babysitting Class when I was like 13. Thirteen!

So there I am, spending a semester in Nairobi, Kenya, at the entitled and enlightened age of 19. I have and do and always will love children of all ages, specializing in two and three year olds. I never really thought I would end up focusing all my energy on eradicating or relieving severe poverty. I’m not an economic or sociological expert. But I remember seeing the cover of a Christian magazine when I was maybe 10- starving Ethiopians holding their hands up to the all-knowing western photographer who, I pray, was working to ease their pain. That cover was the first time I was really aware- I mean to-the-core awareness- of other people’s pain. And that may well have been the day I began to shed the protective layer people keep between their hearts and the world’s.

Because I don’t have it, that layer. I feel your pain. If you’re in pain- I feel it. This is called compassion, empathy or awful. Take your pick.

So: my point is, I distinctly remember the first time I realized there were people who are suffering in this world. And then I went to high school with a friend whose parents were missionaries. She’d grown up in various parts of Africa, and regaled me with stories about Kenya- nothing spectacular, nothing crazily eccentric- just fond stories of the women, the colours, the children, the scents and sights that comprise daily life in Kenya.

And THEN I went to college, full of hope and energy and wide-eyed wonder and stories from my dad about how his ONE wish in college had been that he’d been able to study abroad.
So when my academic advisor returned for the school year brimming with stories about his time in Kenya…well. Here. We. Go.