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FIRST RESPONSE TO FUEGO VOLCANO ERUPTION IN GUATEMALA

 Graphic showing direct impact of the pyroclastic lava flow from Fuego Volcano June 6, 2018

Graphic showing direct impact of the pyroclastic lava flow from Fuego Volcano June 6, 2018

Just returned from Guatemala working with our local Gnu Partner, Hope for Guatemala, in the immediate aftermath of the eruption of the Fuego Volcano. Our Gnu Partners were on site providing water, protective gear, and food supplies to aid the rescuers and survivors of the eruption. It’s another in a long list of tragedies hitting those that can least afford it. It was very humbling and a reality check to be walking on top of the lava ash field that now covers a town of 2,500 - with 1/3 still buried beneath, including some family members of our local Gnu Partner. More bodies recovered in the last few days, most of them in a condition like those found in Pompeii.  We did hear some miraculous stories of survival, meeting with a man who helped 40 people gather in a church that was buried on 3 sides (see photos below), yet they managed to escape after hours of waiting with the air outside at several hundred degrees. 

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On a positive note, so much good is being done through our local partner who has set up a temporary school and residential shelter for 150 family members, and work daily to provide water, food and protective face masks for the workers.  The children of the surviving families are excited to get back to school this last week. It’s amazing to see the perseverance and joy in these youth!

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As you know 100% of every dollar donated will make it directly to benefit those in the field. Right now a little goes a long way in supporting the hundreds of families lost or displaced due to the volcano’s wrath.  In spite of the high risk, families continue to search for those lost (if they can afford to pay for the search). The emphasis is now on the survivors, many of them children, who we are helping with shelter, food and schooling. It’s s long road back but the good work has begun!

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Joining the Conversations at Opportunity Collaboration

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Joining the Conversations at Opportunity Collaboration

Gnu Foundation's founder, board members and 2 of our local Gnu Partners, David from Furaha Community Foundation (Nairobi, Kenya) and Lucson (Port au Prince, Haiti) recently joined 500 other participants representing 50 counties at the 9th Annual Opportunity Collaboration "un-conference" in Ixtapa, Mexico.  Five days of intense and broad-ranging conversation, mostly in small groups, help feed connections, ideas and solutions both within our foundation and with new life-changing relationships to foster impacts around the world.  If you haven't checked out this awesome event, you can do so at:  www.OpportunityCollaboration.net.

 

 Opportunity Collaboration 2017: Colloquium for the Common Good Small Group

Opportunity Collaboration 2017: Colloquium for the Common Good Small Group

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GNU FOUNDATION EMPOWERMENT SUMMIT

UPDATE:  Since our first Empowerment summit in July, 2016, our local Gnu Partners have successfully completed 4 additional Summit's in locations throughout Kenya.

The first Gnu Empowerment Summit recently gathered 35 leaders from several Gnu Foundation partner organizations including Furaha Community Foundation, Macheo Children’s Center, Rays of Hope Health Center, Children of Strength/Watoto Wenye Nguvu, DISC Inititatives, Immaculate Heart of Mary Community of Hope Care Center.  This 2 ½ day conference was hosted by Gnu Foundation with underwriting sponsorship provided by RCA (Real Capital Analytics).

The Gnu Empowerment Summit reminded me of the power of bringing like-minded people together.  At the first night’s dinner, the participants from each of the different organizations sat among themselves and wondered what they would be taught.   By the end of the summit, we were one group breaking bread and celebrating as friends and colleagues who could teach and learn from each other.  

Tonee Ndungu, a successful entrepreneur and energetic teambuilding moderator, deftly led the Summit  –bringing each voice into the room and using powerful exercises to bring leadership concepts to life.  To get us all started, he challenged us to figure out how to exactly measure 4 liters of water using only a 5 liter and 3 liter bottle and a tub full of water.  Go ahead and try it.   None of our 2 person teams got the answer.  If you can’t get it, ask a couple of 8 year olds (they can typically solve it in less than 10 minutes).  The point?  Try different things. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work, you can try something else.   Build upon others’ success.  And the ability to solve a problem requires a different mindset than created it. 

I was inspired to see connections made and “ah ha light bulb moments” when someone from one organization made a suggestion based on their experience that could help someone else.  The social businesses that Rays of Hope started to provide income and jobs to their volunteers so that they could afford to volunteer for the clinic, offered a concrete example to several organizations who are struggling to generate enough income from donations to thrive or scale.

As a woman executive with a commitment to support women leaders, I paid particular attention to the powerful women leading organizations here in Kenya.  One woman leader is a mentor to many of the participants in the room.  She strikes me as one who leads with an iron fist in a velvet glove guided by an open heart.   Other women (and several men) were very timid when they first spoke.  With Tonee’s encouragement, they spoke up and boy did they have lots to say.  They have big dreams and big visions coupled with the credibility and experience to make things happen.

The learnings from the Summit itself were important. Some of them include:

  • The importance of aligning vision, resources, strategy and an action plan to making things happen.
  • Think differently and to get different perspectives to address a problem or challenge
  • Create the structures and systems that will allow organizations to expand
  • One of my favorite “learnings” was from a women who “learned that there is such a thing as a portable cell battery changer.  When it was clear that the wall sockets were full, another participant handed her a charger.”  

More important than any specific learning are the relationships that were forged over the 2 ½ days together. The group picked up the mantle from James Sempere, the Summit host and founder of Gnu Foundation, with an intention to get together periodically to dive deeper into topics. 

The energy from the final celebration complete with BBQ goat, music DJ’d by a Summit participant Victor, and Tusker beer was palpable.   If that energy drives this group of people forward, they will do even more amazing things than they already are in areas of healing, educating children, providing homes for children in need and helping lift families out of poverty.  What could be more inspirational than that?  

-Beth Stelluto

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Holiday Gifting was Great Success !

Our holiday year-end gifting is been a great success. The gifts provided were both small and large, supplying rabbits, goats, a water tank, sanitary towels, wheelchair, blankets, basic food stuffs, dairy cow, and solar lamps

Thanks to your generosity we’ve distributed over $3,000 to our Kenya-based Gnu Partners: WWN (Children of Strength) orphan care program; Rays of Hope Health Clinic; Community of Hope orphan care program; and the DISC Initiatives community empowerment program.

The store remains open at Gnu Foundation Gifts so consider an 'any-occasion tribute' for a friend or loved one or simply buy a cow for fun!

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Gnu Foundation

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Gnu Foundation

Gnu Foundation is a private, non-profit charitable organization with the mission of providing the extreme poor and most vulnerable the financial tools needed – grants, micro loans, business training and other resources – to help them work their way out of poverty. [read more]

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We've Grown!

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We've Grown!

In 2008, Steve Henderson and James Sempere planted the concept of a microcredit program at a business conference held at Kusitawi Village, the home of our local Gnu Partner the Children of Strength orphanage.  Some 125 pastors, teachers and local leaders attended, and in honor of the event we planted the “Microloan tree”.  Fast forward 7 years and the tree has grown strong and healthy along with our local microcredit programs which have now funded more than 1,000 businesses and provide ongoing business credit to hundreds of local families. 

Both visual and economic proof that small initiatives well planted and cared for will grow into big results!

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Haiti Goats & Cattle Co-op program launches

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Haiti Goats & Cattle Co-op program launches

Thanks to a generous Christmas donation from the congregation of Hillside Church of  Marin we were able to fully fund and launch the Goats & Cattle Co-op project in Haiti. All profits from the project will directly benefit the Ecole Evangelique de la Nouvelle Vie du Jacob/Palma (New Life Evangelical School of Jacob/Palma) the proper name for the school and our local Gnu Partner in Haiti.

First phase of the Goats & Cattle Co-op program began with 40 baby and adult goats and will be under the watchful eyes of a skilled local herder.  A second phase of the project will add additional land to support cattle later this year.

During our recent field visit, we also kicked off the third phase of our local microloan program – that now supplies loan grants to 60 families who send their children to the school. As New Life School is the only local school in the region, in virtually every case the child attending school is the first from their family.

Check out Gnu Foundation’s Facebook page for additional photographs and a video “thank you” from Lucson Dervilus, Executive Director of the local program talking about the project.

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Partner Spot: WIGU

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Partner Spot: WIGU

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Working together to eliminate extreme poverty – one family at a time

Gnu Foundation works together with some of the best global partners there are. Including: Kiva.org; Children of Strength; and California-based When-I-Grow-Up  (WIGU).  Gnu Foundation actively partners with WIGU in Kenya, Haiti and more recently in Guatemala. WIGI’s dedicates itself to eradicate ‘extreme poverty’ — helping the 1.6 billion people living on less that $1.25 per day. In the words of Gilbert Foster, WIGU's Executive Director – “We are ambassadors for the poor – we've been to where extreme poverty grips people — $1.25 a day doesn't buy much living – we've see it, we've walked it, smelt it, tasted it, and its not living… its dying, slowly dying. We invite you to join the movement to be a life giver!”

At Gnu, we've joined hand in hand with WIGU in this global life giving movement by ‘wrapping’ their local support initiatives with our microloan programs. In 5 short years we have funded over 1,000 business microloans for WIGU supported local partners. We view it as venture capital for the poor!

You can view some excellent WIGU produced videos here – All of the individuals and children and programs shown in the videos are the local beneficiaries of our joint program efforts in the field. Where WIGU is serving – Gnu Foundation is working alongside them to financially empower families to leave extreme poverty behind.

Also — to watch a sweet Christmas carol from Mercy Queen, a student of the Furaha Community Foundation Secondary School — a Gnu Foundation partner organization — please click here: Happy Holidays everyone!!

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Fresh water now flowing from the new FCF High School well

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Fresh water now flowing from the new FCF High School well

Drilling began and after 20 hours and some 200 meters, clean water began flowing from the new Furaha Community Foundation High School well.

Gnu Foundation supporters provided critical funds to purchase the new generator to power the well pump. After two years of carrying water by hand (and head) the youth of the Furaha Community Secondary school now have clean, safe, fresh water to use each and every day.

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Gnu Foundation funds “social business” grant for Rays of Hope Clinic

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Gnu Foundation funds “social business” grant for Rays of Hope Clinic

Located in the town of Githongo in the tea and coffee region of Kenya; a few miles north of the Equator on the northeast slopes of Mt. Kenya, Rays of Hope  (ROH) is a small community health clinic. With full time work by Murithi Marangu, its founder, and a part time staff of a nurse, laboratory technician and community facilitator, the dedicated team provide laboratory services for malaria and typhoid, the dispersement of medicines and drugs, counseling for HIV/AIDS, testing and post test counseling, and home health care. They also provide maternal, prenatal and child healthcare, as well as Community Education classes. House calls are made for those in the community unable to travel to the clinic. All of these services are provided at no cost or for a minimal fee.

During a visit in 2012, the Gnu Foundation team discussed different ways that we could assist the clinic’s staff and programs, and we determined that providing a “Social Business Grant” was the most supportive and sustainable option.  With the Gnu grant, ROH has built the “Moonlight Cafe” a ‘milk bar’ (serving local foods and non-alcoholic drink) which is staffed by clinic volunteers and the food and produce is purchased locally — creating a ‘virtuous circle’ of employment and supply-chain puirchases from ROH affiliated staff and businesses.  A ‘social business’ is fully consistent with the operations and strategy as that of a traditional ‘for-profit’ business, but all the profits are poured back into the host business to support its social nature and the metrics by which one measures the success of the business are related to a social goal — in this specific case the underwriting and support of the Rays of Hope health clinic.

We are excited by this co-operative venture with Rays of Hope and look to the expansion of other supportive businesses in the community.

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Rebuilding the heart of Furaha

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Rebuilding the heart of Furaha

A devastating fire recently leveled the primary school at the Furaha Community Center. Undaunted, the local Huruma community raised funds to rebuild, and construction has already begun!  The photo below shows the "Heart of Furaha"  the primary school children gathered in the school courtyard during our recent Gnu Foundation visit (pre fire) and the progress made to re-opening the school.  The Gnu Foundation has recently funded a doubling of the Gnu microloan program support to  the parents and guardians of the Furaha children and the workers who care and support them.

Below: The Gnu Foundation team visits with the staff and leaders of Furaha Community Foundation in Huruma (Nairobi), Kenya

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Gnu Guatemala Initiative

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Gnu Guatemala Initiative

  The Gnu Foundation is looking to support the work of Esperanza para Guatemala (Hope for Guatemala) a program dedicated to helping children and families living in Guatemala City’s notorious  Zone 18 to break their cycle of violence, poor education and poverty by empowering them to achieve the quality of life that they deserve. www.hopeforguatemala.org

The program was developed under the direction of Jose Armas, who grew up in Guatemala City watching his parents give food and other assistance to families in need. Even as a child, Jose felt burdened to help people less fortunate.  At the age of 14, Jose began to travel extensively as a missionary, at the age of 23, Jose felt called to leave his comfortable business life in the United States and minister to his own people in Zone 18 of Guatemala City.  The ministry started with Jose and his family serving about 25 children a snack 3 days a week.  Using borrowed pots and pans from his parents and holding on to the vision placed in his heart for many years before, Jose launched Esperanza para Guatemala in 2004.

Today, Hope for Guatemala directly serves over 250 children who represent about 120 families, positively impacting the lives of more than 1000 people. The program offers a hot breakfast and lunch program 5 days a week and provides fresh produce to the childrens’ homes for the weekends.  Additionally an education program provides access to books, study support, computers, tutoring, and school supplies; there is a health, hygiene and basic medical program; vocational workshops and training in carpentry, computers, bakery and crafts and a spiritual and cultural program designed to build hope and self esteem for the youth.

Gnu Foundation is looking to provide funding for creative social business grants to support local vocational and business initiatives for the young adults and families associated with the program.

Zone 18 Guatemala City, Guatemala

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WWN Biogas project reaches completion

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WWN Biogas project reaches completion

In this video message, Madam Elizabeth from Watoto Wenya Nguvu (Children of Strength) thanks a Gnu Foundation champion for funding the orphanages' biogas project.  The bio waste from the orphanages' 10 cows is used to power the fuel needs of the entire WWN campus.

 

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Gnu Haiti Initiative

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Gnu Haiti Initiative

We just returned from Haiti — what an amazing country — so much hope within such an austere and unforgiving environment. We were there to initiate the expansion of the Gnu Foundation’s micro-credit program into the reaches of the Central Plateau region of rural Haiti through our existing global partnership with “When I Grow Up”  — a group of people dedicated to empowering children in extreme poverty.  A description of this initiative can be found at: haiti beginnings.

The reality of extreme poverty and lack of resources is overwhelming throughout all of Haiti  — from the still quake ravaged capital city of Port au Prince to the subsistence agriculture villages of the Central Plateau where adequate water, sanitation, health care, education and a market economy are far from the norm.

However, the strength, energy and will of local families and leadership of our local Gnu partners to overcome these limits is adding a new sense of hope and optimism that is working its way into the fabric of a rebuilding Haiti.  The bright and excited faces of children receiving a warm meal each day; access to working capital for women to start or grow a small business; and orphans having the joy of community through a school where none existed before are all part of Haiti’s new reality.  Many thousands of people and hundreds of organizations are working diligently to bring about this new hope – it was empowering to me to have the chance to meet the leadership of a number of these organizations during my recent visit who generously shared of their time and experience as we connect in Haiti.

I am truly excited and humbled by the task before us as we begin and continue this good work. Your continued partnership in supporting our efforts is, as always, greatly appreciated.  Your willingness to sharing our story with others who could partner in this effort by sharing your own access to resources – your money – your connections – your ideas and kind thoughts and prayers — all are needed, and the time is now.

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Dr. Charles Sempere Memorial Fund established at Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital in rural Kenya

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Dr. Charles Sempere Memorial Fund established at Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital in rural Kenya

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Dr. Charles Sempere, father of Gnu Foundation founder James Sempere, passed away in January, 2012.  Memorial gifts made to the Gnu Foundation in his honor have been placed in a new dedicated special fund to purchase medicines and benefit the work of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital (IHM) in Kilimambogo, Kenya.

IHM, an small independent community hospital located in rural Kenya also runs and supports the Community of Hope — an on-site children’s home for young orphans impacted by AIDS.  The hospital was greatly affected by last year’s drought in Kenya and patients were coming and they could not raise hospital bills or cover the cost of required medicines. The financial stress to the hospital in providing free care was significant, and in the words of the hospital leadership “This new memorial fund will go a long way in bringing the hospital to its feet again”.

When Dr. Sempere, an obstetrician, finally retired after building a successful private practice while serving on the active staffs of two local hospitals in various positions including: Chief of Staff, Medical Director, and Chairman of the OB-GYN Department — he was beginning to deliver a third generation of babies.

If you would like to learn more about the dedicated work of the IHM hospital and the service they provide vulnerable children and a challenged rural community or wish to make a donation to the Dr. Charles Sempere memorial fund, please contact James Sempere directly @ jsempere@gnufoundation.org.

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Gnu youth art events are inspirational and colorful

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Gnu youth art events are inspirational and colorful

Working with groups of youths, artist Chloe Sempere inspired creative art projects throughout Kenya as part of her fellowship with the Gnu Foundation.  Art ‘events’ were held with children in the slums of Nairobi, secondary school children in the rural village of Kilimambogo  and with the orphan children at Kusitawi Village in central Kenya.

For many of the youth it was their first time expressing themselves in a free form artistic manner and was an inspiration to the local teachers as well. The youth, teachers and staff were all inspired and creative, with legacy art programs and school art ‘clubs’ now established to follow the one day events.

In the slums of Haruma (Nairobi), Gnu Foundation microloan partner Furaha Community Center invited their school children to participate in an ‘art event’.  Using brushes, pencils, sticks, hands, fingers, grasses and other creative tools the students painted a mural embracing their sense of community and family.

At Magogoni Secondary School over 50 students interested in art participated at the all day art program event — several large scale murals representing their vision of community  were created and a lively spontaneous art gallery ensued showcasing individual paintings made on newspaper ‘canvases’.

At Kusitawi Village – the home base for the Children of Strength orphanage program (http://www.kilimambogo.org) that supports over 450 children, of whom 75 live at the central village ‘campus’ in safe houses.  The art project ‘attached’ itself to the walls (and beyond) of the girls safe house with a passion. When Executive Director Elizabeth gitau saw the works for the first time she exclaimed “Imagine! Now it looks as if children live here – how beautiful!

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These art programs are another varied example of how the Gnu Foundation fills its core mission of “connecting people to resources” – in this case a recent art school graduate using her talents and connecting one-on-one and ‘hands on’ to inspire self expression and potential in youth a world away. The venues for the program were associated with local Kenya-based Gnu Foundation microloan program partners.

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Donyo Integrated Youth Centre (DISC) – open house visit

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Donyo Integrated Youth Centre (DISC) – open house visit

During  a recent visit to the rural Kenyan village of Donyo Sabuk a Gnu Foundation team participated in an open house event with its newest partner Donyo Integrated Sports Centre (DISC).  This center was established to provide opportunities for local youth through sporting activities and career vocational training.  The program, originally centered around boxing and physical training programs for boys and young men, has been expanded to include remedial educational and micro-enterprise programs for both young men and women.

The DISC Ladies Alive program is a livelihood program born out of concern related to emerging teenage pregnancy and early ‘marriages’ that usually don’t work making the girls in Donyo both socially and economically vulnerable.  The program is intended to build on the existing micro-finance, and micro–agriculture that exist in this community – providing economic opportunities for the guardians of youth enrolled in the DISC programs and for the older youth themselves.  Gnu Foundation is very proud to support the full programs of DISC and the change they are making in their local community.

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Camp Michigamme elementary campers raise funds for Gnu Foundation

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Camp Michigamme elementary campers raise funds for Gnu Foundation

Camp Michigamme — a Methodist Church camp in the upper peninsula of Michigan since 1922, has programs for all ages.

Each week the Camp selects an organization to raise money for — this years elementary school camp raised $140.00 in funds for the Gnu Foundation through their traditional “Me Too” collection.  While at camp, campers enjoy swimming, hiking, worship & fellowship, campfires and craft time, among other activities as well as reconnecting with old friends and meeting new friends.

THANK YOU CAMPERS !!!!!

www.campmichigamme.org

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Gnu Microcredit Program initiated with Watoto Wenya Nguvu (Children of Strength)

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Gnu Microcredit Program initiated with Watoto Wenya Nguvu (Children of Strength)

Gnu Foundation and Watoto Wenya Nguvu (Children of Strength) signed  the Gnu Mircrocredit program agreement today.  The capital provided to WWN will support microloans to several borrowing groups, the first two which include a group of 5 sho sho’s (grandmothers) who care for a number of orphans.  They intend to expand their existing market-based businesses.  Additionally 5 innovative young orphans will begin their business careers using microloans to support a number of activities, including a cobbler business, hairdressing, welding, tailoring and carpentry.

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