After over 3 years of service, the Bankhead Service Station is retiring. This little hygenic station on wheels made two stops every Wednesday evening in the Bankhead Neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to providing hygenic supplies, the Service Station also carried a mobile library, and offered support and hugs.
I am now moving to France and am sad to have to close the Service Station. It has meant so much to be able to connect with the people who visited our Station each week, many of whom were regulars. We wish them well!
A huge thanks to all the volunteers who rolled up their sleeves each week to make the Service Station a success. Thank you Tiffany Reed and Ann Peirce for all your tireless dedication and energy, we couldn’t have done this without you. I would also like to thank Seven Bridges for their friendship and enduring mission of serving our friends on the street.
Even though I am temporarily relocating abroad, I am honored to continue to serve as the Executive Director of MPower Now. I look forward to furthering our work of cultivating leadership and education among the disenfranchised.
With deep respect and fond memories,
The city had closed down but the homeless had lined up. Whatever made me think the lines would be shorter this particularly snowy and icy Wednesday afternoon was without merit. Lifting the back gate of my Acura, it became clear we had some folks in need. My son, Trip and his friend, Ben quickly learned the ropes and were dispensing the hygiene items from the bins as each person slid their bag into their hands. Swiftly it was filled with their requests. My job was the same; give hugs with hope, help dispense with the despair, and listen with undivided attention. This is our community. We are like the United States Postal Service. Through rain or sleet or snow, we must show. And show we must with compassion. Not just by handing out product but by caring. The most difficult part is deciding who needs the limited winter clothing supplies we have. Men shivering in the cold with only a fleece to keep them warm needed warm coats we didn't have but when we added a layer of hoodies and sweatshirts, the extra layers added a touch of warmth. We just lacked enough to go around. Seven Bridges, the organization providing a hot meal and the word of God was iced in and unable to make it. About 75 of the destitute accepted it gracefully and moved along to find warmth in abandoned houses and shelters as we moved along to our second stop where we served about 17 men and women. They live mostly on the bridge and they were cold and hungry. Noting a Church's Chicken open, we bought boxed dinners and returned. The smell alone was a beacon of comfort. As we dispensed with the hygiene items and stamped our feet to keep our own toes from going numb, we thought of the hot chocolate we would drink around the fire at home. And our friends from the bridge? They were home. They had only to get snuggled in their sleeping bags under the tarps in the elements. Is this really the best we can do? I think not. We have work to do.
Bankhead Service Station, Atlanta, GA
It is with great excitement that G-thamini writes about the fun and emotional moments we experienced in schools. We went to the various schools in Mukuru kwa Njenga slums to have Motivational talk sessions with the secondary and primary school candidates. The most important areas of discussions were career guidance, planning their lives and most importantly to try and psychologically prepare them for their final examinations as students. We also included invited guests with different occupations to speak to them. We had an entrepreneur, an accountant, a youth counselor, a youth pastor and one human resource personnel from Kenya Airways Company.
These two months have been fun knowing that we are bringing our participants to the lime light through motivational talks. Basically we have enlightened the students on some of the new careers in Kenya that were not known to them. What motivated us the most is the positive response from the teachers and students in the various host schools and their corporation in terms of planning and implementing this forum, we are also happy that we surprised the students in a way they were not expecting because they have learned a lot and interacted with professionals.
We have reached 574 students who are expecting exams both in primary and secondary schools, most importantly the participants have now grown to know most about various careers and have been informed of those they didn’t know of. We have also enlightened them on how to look for studying materials in libraries and also through the internet. G-thamini organization has learned more from the invited speakers in the sessions.
G-thamini as a whole has learned and improved in terms of facilitation skills and working as a team we are also proud that we have reached a larger scale of students this time round.
The G-thamini organization would like to thank all the students, teachers, well-wishers and all the motivational speakers.
Youth and children department.
Every day in office is different and invigorating and this past week has kept me on my toes. MPowerNOW has a couple projects and working on them is very inspiring and exciting. My name is Mahrusah and I am the new intern at MPowerNOW. I met Ms. Donna Rohling at Emory and was absolutely inspired by the work she was doing through MPowerNOW and knew I had to be a part of the team.
Our Wednesdays are especially exhilarating as this day is dedicated to our local homeless project. The Bankhead Service Station provides necessities to the homeless in the area. So we start the day by taking inventory of the supplies that we have in stock and make note of the items we need. We buy the necessary items which we then categorize into the different boxes. By the time the labeled boxes go into the car it is time to go to the service stations! I was not sure what to expect on location, but my concerns were for no reason.
The people in Bankhead were extremely friendly. When they saw a new face, they asked me about my history, where I was from and how I had gotten involved in this project. They hugged us all and updated us on their lives and on their friends’ lives. They told us about their friend Tiger, who was part of their community, who had gone back home to Oklahoma and gained successful employment. They thanked us multiple times for coming out to support them. They were so kind and grateful and open to sharing their stories with us, and their warmth put me at ease.
Click here to view some pictures from the Bankhead Service Station.
Thursdays are just as exciting as the day before. Our focus shifts a little to our international project in Kenya. We start the day with a Skype meeting in the morning with the G-Thamini team in Mukuru, Nairobi. We discuss the progress of the different programs and their passion and dedication just shines through all the time. The children love them, the teachers love them, and we love them! We all leave the meeting each time feeling even more inspired and ready to help the team continue their amazing work.
Click here to view some pictures from the programs in Kenya.
This internship has already been much more than what I expected and I am excited about the coming weeks. Be sure to keep up with MPowerNOW by subscribing to our RSS Feed.
Girls are the most vulnerable people in our community. The challenges they face are many; hence making them to accept whatever comes their way. One main challenge they get is to find the right people to discuss their issues with. Most parents don't talk about girl issues with their daughters as it used to be in the earlier days. Most parents assume that their daughters will learn from their pals.....which then makes them more vulnerable to bad information. G thamini youth group, as opened this avenue through the women as partners program, in order to hear the girls out and understand them, all the members are trained peer educators,hence bridging the gap. We have been engaging them on fully where we have been teaching them about; menstruation, HIV/AIDS, STIs, Woman hood, Sex, how to adapt to the changes and giving them the chance to ask whatever the questions they like; Whatever they can not ask the teachers or their parents, we take the opportunity to listen and answer them and also inform with the teachers. In the month of February,we visited Jobenpha school and we shared with them on how to guard themselves during their periods, this was through demonstrations, check the pictures below please. They were so happy since many had started menstruating and did not the way to approach the situation. One girl, who is a orphan said that she lived with her father and she had started her periods and she did not know how to approach her dad. She said that we had helped her so much, the G thamini went ahead and purchased a packet of sanitary pads for the girl for that month. Another girl, said that the information would be so much useful since she going to shared with her sister who also was worried on what to do.......The testimonies were many and we are happy to be the avenue that listens and answers, it is always a blessing to see the children smile for they know what to do after being informed.
WE HAVE TO FORGIVE THEM AND WE WILL
Peace is a vital aspect for Kenya to develop. It is said that
when you are in a plane you cannot if the plane is moving fast; but when you are
outside you can see that it is moving fast. Kenyans need to come out and see
that we are moving. Kenyans are getting reformed day by day.
“Kiingereza kingi hakitatusaidia” translated “A
lot of English will not help us” Meaning a lot of talking will not help
but we need action this round time from the grassroots to the top. How can we
Let Kenyans see
opportunities, most of the time we see ourselves negatively. We are in the
process of making a new Kenya. Every Kenyan is a talented artist and we need
each other so as to make the crafting a great thing. Remember Kenya is the hub
of Afrika….It is an opportunity we don’t want to
The development of
Kenya is in our hands not the hands of the state. Hopefully we can see the
pattern we are moving in Reforms…Reforms…and Reforms we are empowered because we
have our constitution that we created. Let’s speak up and take
We must accept Winners
and losers. Accept whoever is fairly elected and move on. Don’t be tempted to do
Accept the DIVERSITY It
is one thing that makes us proud…We have 43 tribes, let us enhance working
together, learning from each other. Nobody wrote a letter to God to request Him
if we could be born in a certain tribe. It is very sad for people to be raped,
killed, discriminated on basis of tribe. Remember we are brothers and
sisters….What example are we giving to the generation to come?
If we can celebrate football teams’ together, share
work, share jokes at plots, then why can’t we share elections
Finally, I never heard
any brother, sister, wife, husband, children, relatives of the politicians
killed, raped, discriminated because of the chaos that we had in 2007 and 2008.
We need to wake up, see the big picture, Kenya is developing the Giant of Africa
is coming to her sense.
THE EVERYTHING THAT WE NEED: KEEP UP BEING A STATES
Thanks to all our elves (both small and tall) who generously shared the afternoon with us, crafting beautifully embellished laminated tags for each of the backpacks to be given to the students on Christmas Eve in Mukuru.
We have posted the pictures from the morning event on the gallery page so you can get a peek of the elves at work.
The Rohling family will be packing their suitcases (I mean Santa's sleigh) with the school bags and flying them to Kenya in just a few days. Each back pack has a notebook, pencil case, pens, pencils, and more! When the children of Mukuru see these tags they will know doubt feel the love, creative effort, and time that went into creating these works of art. Thanks to each and every one of you at Santa's Workshop. The Mukuru project is a dream coming true!
May your holidays be filled with
Tenderness for the past,
Courage for the present,
And Hope for the future!