Happy 2013! I hope this new year brings you peace, a fresh start, and an ever-growing desire to make the world just a little brighter than it was in 2012.
The beginning of the year is always a time for reflection. Not only on our own personal growth goals, but our goals for our passions in life as well. Everyone has a different passion that sets their heart and soul on fire. For me personally, I enjoy incorporating my love for running (and my goals for the sport) with my desire to help others. Our friends at Mission 29.2 feel the same way. This inspiring organization is dedicated to setting up marathons in developing countries to raise money for education. When I’m in the middle of a run that just feels tough, mentally and physically, I can think of Mission 29.2 and other similar organizations and know that we can do good through all things, even running. And nothing clears the mind of personal struggles and makes way for a heart motivated to give like physical activity.
Judging from its prevalence in the region, many in East Africa feel the same way about running. It provides a path to think through troubling issues, lets emotions pour freely from the soul, and keeps the body in top physical condition all at the same time. No one understands a love of running better than those in Tanzania and the surrounding countries. Long distance running all over the world is dominated by East Africans; their dedication to their craft is inspiring and motivating for all of us.
I have wondered in the past why East Africans seem to have such a passion for running and a dedication to training that may seem out of reach to us in America. One reason that stands out is that running costs next to nothing. No fancy equipment needed; and perhaps even more instrumental—they see running as an opportunity to get from Point A to Point B, when all we have to do here in the US is jump in our car. For them, a car is not an option. And as in our world we may find distraction after distraction to keep us from running—TVs, computers, shopping malls—the East Africans have only the soil under their feet and strong legs to carry them far. Running has become an opportunity in Africa to escape a life of poverty and seek international status in a very competitive world.
Perhaps as we vow to become better people in 2012, we can take a cue from the people of East Africa and resolve to dedicate ourselves fully to a goal and not give up until we achieve it—no matter what that goal looks like. In the case of providing hope to third-world countries, we may have a long way to go. But each day is a new opportunity to run farther and faster toward that aspiration we carry with us throughout the year.
- Casey Trogden
We regret to inform you that our working relationship with CHETI School has come to a conclusion after three wonderful and rewarding years. We are very proud of the work we have accomplished at CHETI School, and are confident the foundation of knowledge we provided to 82 children will carry them through their educational career. Thank you for making that possible.
While we had initially believed we could facilitate the re-sponsorship of CHETI School children, we were unfortunately unable to come to an agreement that met the needs of the School Director as well as our program requirements and quality standards. Our team firmly believes that quality and process are significant priorities in running our program and we are unable to compromise on these issues. Because of this, we will no longer be sponsoring students at CHETI School, and therefore ending our working relationship with them. We apologize for any disappointment or inconvenience this may cause. Most of our previously sponsored students will enroll and begin attending government school, where they will continue their education. Sponsorship will continue for Jue students in 2013 and we are exploring additional options for the future.
Our team is very proud of the support we have provided to CHETI School and the 82 children we financially supported through the sponsorship of their education. Our hard work and accomplishments will live on through the classrooms, kitchens, and bathroom facilities built, school buses purchased, and health and educational resources provided to CHETI School. While we are saddened to see our work with CHETI School end, we are excited to embark upon a new adventure for our organization. When one door closes, another one opens…
Stay tuned for updates!
- The Cheti Team
Thank you for all that you have helped us accomplish this year. 2012 has been quite the ride!
Here is a rundown of what we have accomplished together:
- Cheti was selected as a Regional Finalist as Best New Charity by Stay Classy (out of over 1,200 applicants)
- We sponsored 93 students in Nursery and Primary school (some students for their 3rd year)
- We completed the construction of all 8 classrooms at CHETI School
- We hired our first part-time team member (creating a job in Tanzania for a recent graduate)
- We helped purchase a 3rd school bus
- And, purchased and delivered thousands of text and reading books for four local schools (helping the local economy and reaching over 1,000 students)
In the past three years, Cheti has grown drastically and has made a tremendous impact on the communities we work with. We have enabled the schools to grow and given students access to quality education. I am so proud of our team in the United States, our team of teachers and schools in Tanzania, and of all the loyal supporters we have around the world.
Looking forward to 2013, there is a clear opportunity for us to become more efficient as an organization, more streamlined in our approach on the ground, and more diligent in creating a model that can eventually be replicated across new schools, new regions, and new countries in the developing world.
During 2013, we will be facilitating re-sponsorship of existing students, but focusing our volunteer time on building our infrastructure: defining what it means to empower these local communities through education, and identifying the most meaningful ways for us to do that based on what we have learned thus far. We will be sure to communicate to you when a new project or program has been identified, and until then, donations made to Cheti, (outside of sponsorship fees), will contribute to strengthening our infrastructure so we can ensure the sustainability of this program.
We wish you very happy holidays and a beautiful New Year. Thank you for being with us during this journey.
Jessica and the Cheti Team
It’s the holiday season, which means different things to different parts of the world. But for most, goodwill, generosity, and love are the threads that bind it all together. And in America, many of us have much goodwill, generosity, and love to share. If your heart is ready and willing to give back just a fraction of what you’ve received, perhaps you’d like to begin a journey of sponsorship this season?
There are thousands of charities here in the US to pick from and all support wonderful causes. I’ve found that one or two causes weigh on my heart more than most. You may have found that too. Time and time again, I’m drawn to those nonprofits working tirelessly to improve the lives of children in other countries. There are countless organizations that allow you to sponsor a child, which often means you pay a small fee per month to provide them with clothing and food. Cheti takes a different approach and focuses on how to teach that child how to feed and clothe themselves for life.
We all know that education is invaluable, but we often don’t take the time to think of why. Just by being literate, one can begin to understand a work that calls to them and can embark on the exciting journey of making themselves marketable for that work. Sponsoring a child through Cheti allows a child’s parents to not worry about education, and instead focus on necessities. They can concentrate on nourishing their children, and as a sponsor, you can concentrate on fueling the knowledge and desires of those healthy kids!
- Casey (Brackney) Trogden
With the conclusion of our campaign on indiegogo, we are excited to announce that we have not only reached our goal of raising $10,000 but surpassed it!! None of this could have been possible without all of the support we’ve received from family, friends, and fans of Cheti. Thank you to everyone who donated, emailed, shared, liked, pinned, or tweeted about Cheti’s campaign.
Here’s a recap of what we were able to accomplish because of the donations and support we received:
- President + Founder, Jessica, and Board Member, Erica, traveled safely back to Arusha, Tanzania for two weeks
- Hired our first Tanzanian team member, giving a new job to a recent college grad!
- Delivered thousands of textbooks and reading books to hundreds of students at four schools
- Confirmed all 93 sponsored students are maintaining their academic standards, are healthy, and attending school (we are so proud of them!)
- Checked in on current infrastructure projects, new classrooms and transportation needs, and the state of our schools
- Evaluated first hand the success of last year’s programs and began planning for next year’s needs.
Thank you again for enabling us to accomplish all of these goals and take our organization to the next level.
Meanwhile, please continue to follow us in this journey through our facebook page as we share triumphs and updates.
Check out the special “Thank You” video message from our students!
Thank you all for believing in our vision, our mission, and our ability to make it a reality.
- The Cheti Team
When I was a college student 10 years ago, I had heard the term “blog,” but didn’t really understand it. I thought it was just an Internet space where people who were passionate about technology went to, well, write about technology. In the past several years, though, I realized how wrong I was.
Blogs have exploded onto the Internet scene. Whether you’re looking for fashion inspiration, cooking inspiration, or auto dealing information, there’s a blog for it. In fact, I discovered Cheti through one of my favorite health and fitness blogs—it was featured in a series of read-submitted volunteer stories.
Until recently, I never considered the impact blogging and social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, can have for a nonprofit organization. We live in a technology-obsessed society. This thought makes me uncomfortable if I dwell on the “first-world” problem of being addicted to our expensive cell phones and laptops, when children in Tanzania can’t even afford the fee to walk into a classroom, much less a laptop. But when I consider the fact that we can use our abundance of technology to help them, I want to act on it!
I have a Facebook page and a Twitter profile. Chances are, you have at least one of these things and possibly a blog, too. The first thing I did when I got up this morning was make myself a cup of coffee, scroll down my Twitter feed, and click on a Tweet with a link that took me to the morning post of one of my favorite bloggers. Sound familiar?
Now imagine if I had clicked on a Tweet from one of my favorite bloggers that mentioned her support of Cheti—which got my attention: an organization that sponsors schooling for children in Africa. Imagine that this blogger wanted to use her voice that reaches 25,000 readers daily to encourage them to donate to Cheti’s campaign. Imagine if each of those readers clicked on the link, became motivated, and sent out their own tweets to their own readers. The implications can be a massive outreach of caring, determined early morning coffee drinkers ready to start their day by improving someone else’s.
Here are a few recent facts about the staggering outreach of social media in the world today:
•On average in one year, we will share 415 pieces of content on Facebook, we’ll spend an average of about 23 minutes a day on Twitter, tweeting a total of around 15,795 tweets, we’ll check in 563 times on Foursquare, upload 196 hours of video on YouTube, and send countless emails
•Social networking is still the fastest-growing active social media behavior online, increasing from 36% of global Internet users to 59% managing their profile on a monthly basis by the end of 2011
•There are now over 2.8 billion social media profiles, representing around half of all internet users worldwide.
•There are 70 million WordPress blogs worldwide
•There are 39 million Tumblr blogs worldwide
•4 out of 5 internet users visit social networks and blogs
There is no denying the evidence anymore: we’re a social-media obsessed world. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Nonprofits, especially, can use their social media talents for amazing purposes. In addition to getting the word out about their group, they can learn what their supporters are sharing with their followers about their organization. They can also drive visitors to online donation pages and add a more personal feel with Tweets, blogs and Facebook posts, as opposed to the one-dimensional vibe visitors can get from a blurb of text on a Web page.
If this blog post made you think about how you can use your own social media savvy to help out children in Tanzania, go ahead and Tweet the link or post it on Facebook to get the word out about Cheti (you can even donate to Cheti’s Indiegogo Campaign). If you’re anything like me, I’m sure it won’t be your first or last trip to a social media site today—so why not make it one that counts?
- Casey Brackney
My journey first started off as a lifelong dream I wanted to accomplish. A good friend of mine, Sarah McNiven, had traveled to Tanzania a couple years before me. Sarah and I had gone to high school together and always shared a desire to volunteer in Africa. Sarah was able to go one summer and returned to Canada with so many inspiring stories for me. Sarah got me in contact with Jessica Shipman, who I spoke with two years ago expressing my desire to sponsor a child from Cheti. For a couple months I watched as children’s pictures were posted who were in need of a sponsor. It wasn’t until I saw a picture of Nay and read her story that I knew that this is the child I wanted to sponsor. What made me choose Nay was her touching story. I learned that Nay was born into a Masai family, consisting of 4 other girls and a mother and father. However, in 2008, when Nay was only 3 years old, her mother died after hitting her head on a rock. Nay and her sisters (who are all older than her) were left to take care of themselves with a little help from their aunt who will come every once and awhile to check on them. Masai men do not believe in childcare or raising their children, so without a mother this was a responsibility the young girls had to take on themselves. After I started sponsoring Nay, I was shown a video of where she lives, and the conditions were heartbreaking. The house was made of wood and did not have any sort of protection from rain or wild life, in essence you could see through all sides of her house. I received academic reports of Nay’s progress in school, pictures of her, and drawings that she drew for me. I felt so connected to this young girl without even knowing her personally, it was at this point I knew I would volunteer in Arusha, Tanzania at Cheti.
When I first arrived at Cheti, I received a warm and loving welcome from the Cheti school director Zuma, who asked if I was Amanda Tubbs, the sponsor of Nay. It was such a surprise and honor to know that he knew about me and was so happy and eager to welcome me to Cheti as a volunteer. Zuma brought myself and the two other volunteers into his office and asked me the question I had been waiting for ever since I started sponsoring Nay: “Do you want to meet Nay today?” Instantly I got tears in my eyes and he arranged his bus driver to pick us up and drive us out to C5, which was about a 25-minute drive from C1. The anticipation built within me as he showed us all the different Cheti schools (C1, C2, C3, C4, and C5). When we arrived at C5, Zuma saved Nay’s classroom for last. When I entered the standard 1 classroom, Zuma announced that a student’s sponsor was among us and instructed myself and the two other volunteers to stand at the front of the classroom. He then called Nay out from her seat and told her, “pick which one is your sponsor.” At this point Nay had never seen a picture of me. Nay walked from the back of the classroom, and as I saw her start walking in my direction right to me, my heart melted. There are absolutely no words to describe how I felt at that very moment. I dropped down to the ground, and we hugged each other. I was literally shaking the whole time as Nay stayed clung onto me, as I was to her, and we did not let go. It was at time I honestly felt like I was hugging my own child, as weird as that may sound.
Nay was unlike most of the children at Cheti. I did not know what to expect as her reaction and what her personality would be like. I quickly learned that she was very different. Those who have volunteered, you know that the children love hugging and hanging off of you. At one time you could have 20 kids fighting for your attention, a part of your body, clothing, of backpack to hold onto. However, Nay was not like this. She was a very shy young girl, and always waited until I was free to just be with her. When we were alone, she would always snuggle up to me and put her arm around me. She is such a sweet and precious little girl.
On my third day of teaching, I was outside sharpening new pencils for children that needed one. Nay came out to me and handed me her pencil to sharpen, not even asking for a new one. Her pencil was about 2 inches long. I gave her a new pencil, and she gave me the biggest smile in exchange. When all the other children saw that I had new pencils, every single child was asking me for one. I gave them out to the children that needed a new pencil. At the end of the day when it was time for Nay and I to go to her house, Nay handed me the pencil back. I told her that it was hers to keep. This is just one example to show that this little girl has never, in her life, been given anything. She has no concept of receiving something as a gift to keep, which broke my heart. This also happened another time I gave her a stuffed animal. She studied every inch of the toy and played with it. When it was time for her to go she handed it back to me. I again told her it was hers to keep. I then thought back to my childhood and all the things I was given and the different things I expected to be given to me. Most of us as children and as adults have been given a gift. Never once have we stopped and thought to give it back, because we have become accustomed, at such a young age, to take what is given to us. Yet Nay has never been given anything in her life, and the concept of a “gift” did not even exist to her until now.
That same day I went and visited Nay’s home with Zuma. When we arrived, Nay was so proud to show me her home and to introduce me to her sisters. It was such a humbling feeling and experience to have a child want to show you how little she has, yet be so proud of it. Her house was in such poor conditions. There was no electricity or running water. Her and her sisters walk about 2 km to get water, and they have to bring heavy buckets of water that distance back to their home. Nay’s house had mud floors and mud walls. It was infested with flies and the roof had many holes in it, so there was no security from the rain. It is unbelievable to think about all the different material items people in North America desire to have, yet when they become in possession of these goods, they are never happy. And then I see this young girl and her family who are so proud of what little they have. These encounters happened many times throughout my volunteer experience; these people who had absolutely nothing are the happiest people I have ever seen in my life. After leaving gifts for the family and saying goodbye, Zuma provided me with a little more information about Nay’s family. Nay’s 16-year-old sister had just recently been sold for marriage in exchange for a cow. Unfortunately, this is what happens to Masai girls. They have no say in who they are sold to and forced to marry. I then learned something more appalling; Nay’s father who would be in his 50’s has been remarried to a young girl for the past two years. When he married this young girl she was only 16 years old, the same age as his oldest daughter that he just sold. This just painted a awful picture in my mind, that Nay’s sister may have been sold to a man who is 50 years old without any say what so ever, and even worse this is the unfortunate reality that Nay will face in the future.
That weekend Zuma had Nay stay at his house so I could pick her up and take her out during the day. On Sunday I went to pick Nay up from Zuma’s house . While I was walking down the road, I saw Zuma and asked where Nay was. Zuma brought me into a hair salon where Nay was getting all of her hair shaved off. Zuma explained to me that Nay had sores all over her head and that she did not have medication for them. When I saw her head I realized how bad the infection had gotten and took her to a nurse who explained that it was a fungal infection resulting from lack of care and nutrition. Nay was given 30 days worth of antibiotics to take, however; I kept the medication to give to her everyday at school, because if it was sent home with her to give to her father to hold onto he would have sold it for money. On weekends I would give Nay enough for Saturday and Sunday to take at home. This again made me think about my childhood. I remember when I was 7 years old, I couldn’t even swallow pills let alone 4 a day and having the responsibility to remember to take it. It really shows that Nay and other children like her have to mature at such a young age and take on responsibilities that I and others like myself don’t have to take on until adolescence.
One day while teaching at C5, Zuma brought Nay’s father to the school to meet me. Communicating with him was very difficult because of the language barrier. However, Zuma translated our conversation for us. His appreciate was very apart to me. He held my hands and with tears in his eye spoke softly in Swahili. Zuma told me that he was thanking me for everything I do for Nay and sending her to school. He held me and repeated over and over again “Mama, Mama”, calling me mother of Nay. This was a very emotional and special moment for me to have Nay’s father calling me the mother of his daughter.
Nay and I shared many precious moments that are very difficult to put into words. I will always remember her big beautiful smile, the way she would always nod her head and say “Yes”, how she would always grab my arm and put it around her while we were walking and all the other heartfelt moments I shared with her. Unfortunately I was unable to say goodbye to Nay because of a trip interruption that occurred the day before my last day of placement. I only hope that she understands that I so badly wanted to say goodbye to her, that I will be back to see her and that I love her. I cannot wait until I return to Tanzania in the future to teach at Cheti and spend more time with Nay.
Aside from my experience with Nay, I was blessed with the opportunity to meet some wonderful people, whom I will never forget and will always love. My school director Zuma is, by far, the most incredible man I have ever met in my life. The ambition and motivation he has is absolutely remarkable. I shared many conversations with Zuma, one of which has always stuck with me. Zuma explained his vision of building a school for children, and with what little he had, he started to build Cheti. He then explained to me his desire to expand Cheti, and construct an orphanage. Zuma explained that such an orphanage would not only give orphans an adequate and safe home, but also he would take in children like Nay, who have a parent/parents but do not receive the proper care at home. Zuma has yet to build an orphanage, however, if anyone knows Zuma personally, any ambition he has eventually turns into a reality. Zuma has not only inspired me, but I know that I have a family awaiting me in Tanzania forever.
As a side note, I want to extend my appreciation and thanks to everyone who attended my fundraiser or made a donation before I traveled to Tanzania. I am happy to announce that with the money that everyone kindly donated, the students at C5 now have a sanitary washroom. When I first arrived at Cheti I asked Zuma what would be most beneficial to put the donated money towards. He expressed the need for a washroom to be finished at C5. By the time my month was finished in Tanzania the washroom has been finished and ready to use. Again, thank you to everyone who supported Cheti School, your generosity is appreciated.
To donate to Cheti, click here.
To learn more about our approach to sponsorship, click here.
Last night, some 60,000 people gathered in NYC’s Central Park for The Global Festival , a free concert intended to inspire global citizenship and end extreme poverty worldwide. I was lucky enough to be one of the 60,000 rocking out on the iconic Great Lawn.
Celebrities graced the stage – Olivia Wilde, Katie Couric, Selena Gomez, Petra Nemcova – to discuss the global causes they support. Neil Young with Crazy Horse, Foo Fighters, the Black Keys, Band of Horses and K’Naan lent their voices onstage to support the movement to end extreme poverty. The deafening cheers and packed house that surfaced later in the night suggested most festival attendees were there to rock out to The Black Keys and Foo Fighters (who may have hinted to their impending retirement? Say it ain’t so). I, on the other hand, was anxiously awaiting the performance of the first act, Somali-born, Canadian rapper K’Naan.
K’Naan, most famous for his international smash “Wavin Flag,” graciously stated onstage that when a song becomes popular, its true meaning and what the lyrics embody, can sometimes get lost in the pandemonium. And so, he righteously declared at The Global Festival that he was going to “reclaim that song as a personal song,” reminding concertgoers that the lyrics spell out his personal journey from war-torn Somalia to current title as a rapper/hip hop artist, songwriter and activist.
That’s exactly what this song has become to me, a personal song. To many, “Wavin Flag” is the energetic and catchy official tune of the 2012 World Cup held in South Africa. To me, it encompasses much more, and I’m about to do exactly what K’Naan did last night – reclaim it as a personal song.
I think of K’Naan’s lyrics and what they mean to me – a series of precious moments and feelings that will forever occupy my heart. “Wavin Flag” reminds me of Saturdays spent beading with my students while we sang along to K’Naan’s song in both English and Swahili (I tried my best!); of afternoon soccer matches with the neighborhood children; of vuvuzelas blaring in my ears while cheering on Team USA at the local bars; of time spent painting powerful lyrics on the walls of CHETI School; of that feeling of connectedness irrespective of language and culture. It is the definition of my time spent in Tanzania and at CHETI School – An experience that has molded who I am, what I fight for and believe in, and redirected my path in life to where I am today.
K’Naan, thank you for reclaiming your song and providing me with the opportunity to relive the moments responsible for shaping the person I am today.
To donate to Cheti’s Indiegogo Campaign, click here.
Cheti’s mission statement is “to create opportunity for the impoverished children of Tanzania and across East Africa through education.” When I think about this statement, the word that really jumps out at me is “opportunity.” Education provides far more than just one kind of opportunity—opportunity for social interaction with others; for the development of confidence and strength; for a fresh start in a tough world.
Children are naturally curious and observant, no matter what country they are born in and what set of parents brings them into humanity. When they are provided with a structured, fundamental education in the company of other children their own age, their curiosity and fascination with everything from history to society to science increases ten-fold.
One of my earliest grade-school memories is that lovely rush of excitement I felt when I wrote my first short story. I didn’t know how to be a writer or what it meant to have a career, but I knew I loved to write, and I knew the energy I felt flowing though my body when I put pen to paper. Children instinctively understand at a young age what their passions are and what they are good at; it’s up to us to cultivate that knowledge. When they receive knowledge, they receive permission to let their minds and hearts fly.
When a young boy or girl walks into a classroom for the first time, they are opening themselves up to the possibility of truly living rather than simply existing. Their worries can shift from their next meal to their next homework assignment. Their focus can change from helping feed the baby and sweeping the floors to discovering the nurse, teacher, or politician blossoming inside them. At school in Tanzania, along with the basics, they are taught the English language, which is one of the most powerful tools on the road to escaping poverty.
The more children know, the more they can change the world. When we empower them through words and facts and lively discussion, we give them the confidence they need to develop into passionate and educated adults. With literacy comes power to express oneself and carve out the niche in society we all deserve to find. In those first few years of school, children learn to appreciate everything, including the environment they grew up in. If nurtured properly, they can learn respect for all living beings and will discover the wonder and joy of contributing to the inner workings of this diverse place we all call home.
When you sponsor a child through Cheti, you are putting your faith in that child and in their ability to blaze their own path on a constantly shifting course. You are giving them a voice and the gift of influence—and the chance to bring the same joy you give them to their own corner of the world.
- Casey Brackney
About Casey: Born and raised in Indiana, Casey received a bachelor’s degree from DePauw University in 2004. She now lives in Southern California and works in Communications for a children’s cancer research organization. She’s also planning her upcoming wedding : )
Our organization has begun to grow exponentially over the last year, and now we are excited to be hiring our FIRST part-time paid position! But in order to do this, we need your help. Through Indiegogo, a fundraising platform, we have created a campaign to build our programs – It is our intention to use $2,000 from the campaign towards a salary for a part-time local coordinator.
Why is a Local Program Coordinator vital to our organization? Here’s everything you need to know:
Cheti is currently an all-volunteer crew of 6 girls working from within the US. While we have been back and forth to Tanzania since 2009, it’s time for us to have someone on the ground in Tanzania permanently. Being on the ground provides us with the greatest opportunity to increase our impact, expand our organization, and most importantly, help as many children as possible.
Whoever holds this position will be the primary liaison between our US- based team and the schools and students we work with – a vital role for organizational growth. He or she will be a constant presence at the schools we partner with, ensuring programs are executed as planned and supported by the local community. It will also facilitate greater donor communication and communication between sponsors and students—more letters for all of our sponsors : )
Gone will be the days of waiting for an individual, company, or organization to respond back to our emails or phone calls. Gone will be the days where we must plan communication ahead of time due to the 7 hour time difference. Now, we will be able to have someone on the ground who will be able to travel around the region, knock on doors, and get answers, estimates, and eventually, get the job done!
There is still much work to be done, progress to be made, children to help, and first steps to be had! Help us hire our first part-time paid position to build our programs on the ground to impact even more individuals. Donate now to Cheti’s Indiegogo Campaign http://www.indiegogo.com/cheti?a=889024
$1, $5, $10 — Any amount will make a difference! And if you can’t donate — share, like, tweet, pin, email, and help spread the word!
Asante sana rafikis!!