We had a wonderful evening debriefing with Megan Steele Friday night and it was so great to hear her report on the Kiang’ombe feeding / preschool program.  In short, things are going remarkably well and the children and community are deeply grateful for the huge impact they are seeing.  Megan is putting together some inspiring highlight stories that we will share with you in a bit.

The children are  literally coming alive with excitement, hope, and confidence as they experience full tummies and full minds with consistency. 

Meagan also shared a few amazing stories about what we call Collateral Benefit – the broader impact that occurs in very vulnerable communities when opportunity is brought to their children.  I’ll save those stories for later, but I assure you they are just as powerful and exciting as the direct benefits Kiang’ombe children are getting.  There is a growing hope in the community that is sparking change far beyond what we are directly doing at the project. 

Megan also shared a sobering story that reminded us of how incredibly important it is to intimately know each community we work in and to critically evaluate ALL interventions before moving forward.  It is so easy to let our relative power, affluence, and ego blind us into pushing forward too quickly and too strongly.  This happens so frequently and can undermine or destroy local solutions that are already working.  

At Ameena Project we strive to come along side our partner programs to empower  local solutions for local problems.

Megan discovered that a dear friend of ours who lives near Kiang’ombe (and happens to be physically handicapped) had been caring for 5-6 children from Kiang’ombe daily out of her home.  A small business for her, AND a local solution for a few very needy children.  When we opened our Feeding / Preschool program in January guess what happened?  The children left and she lost her income and personal involvement providing solutions in her community.  This is a terrible reality that is extremely common with foreign and even local interventions and one that is often unseen or unacknowledged.  This is not a problem unique to work in developing countries…..we see unintended consequences to legislation that seems so well thought out and intentioned, yet we find out later about the collateral impact. 

Good intentions, good funding, and good ideas are not enough. 

We must really get to know people and communities, and work hand in hand in true collaboration.  We are thankful for the personal relationships that helped to bring this situation to our awareness.  May we have wisdom when we meet in person in a couple of weeks … to come up with solutions that work for everyone!

Gratefully,  yet cautiously we move forward with our partners in Kiang’ombe.  Thank you Megan for your willingness to do all that you do.   

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On the Mend

After two weeks in East Africa Megan Steele ended up catching something and has been so sick we’ve hardly heard from her.   Looks like she is doing a little better now because she posted some pics on FB and I was so excited to see them that I stole a few to share here.  I know she has lots more to share, not only pictures but some great feedback about how everything is going.  We’ll keep you posted hopefully after we meet with Megan later this week.  This is what I’ve got for now: 

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Spotlight #1

At Ameena Project we strive to be volunteer run and sustained.  At times, this makes it more difficult to get things done, but, we have also found that allowing others to gift with their talents and finances is a blessing to us and them!   Today we want to take a moment to introduce you to one volunteer and show how she has chosen to be involved. 

We have known Caitlynn Lee since she was born a little over 10 years ago and have been privileged to be there and watch her:

  • Crawl around in diapers and go through all those fun (and sometimes not so fun) early childhood stages
  • Bring home her baby brother and learn what it is to be a great big sister
  • Develop friendships and deep connections with other kids (mine included)
  • Hula dance
  • Get diagnosed with Type I Diabetes and learn to live with a chronic condition that impacts everything in her life
  • Become a little obsessed with American Girl
  • Volunteer and raise money for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Caitlynn Lee

 Caitlynn has a wonderful family who have done their best to teach her their values and faith traditions.  One of their practices is called Tithing.  They literally give away 10% of their income no matter what their current financial circumstances are.  This is their way to live out their belief that everything they have is a gift from God and that they are dependent on God for everything.  Caitlynn’s little eyes have been watching. 

Today we learned of a remarkable thing she has done.  All on her own, Caitlynn formed a group called the Bracelet Bunch with some 4th & 5th grade girls to raise money for Ameena Project.   They have been making and selling bracelets and gave us their first donation with a note from the Bunch saying they hope to be able to send some money every month and hope to be able to support as many kids as possible.  In addition, Caity has also been tithing, or saving 10% of  her $3 allowance and other money that she receives.  She saved $15 doing this!  Caity, and the Bracelet Bunch, you inspire us!  Your donation will provide over 350 meals to kids in Kiang’ombe. 

Caitlynn, Isabelle, Madeleine, Isabella, and Claire – The Bracelet Bunch is a beautiful thing.   You girls clearly understand some very important things that many adults never learn.  I hope we can all learn from your example and become better because of it.  Asante Sana – many thanks. 



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