Showing posts from 2013

This is What Love Looks Like

Thanks to your support and love Cheepo is well-fed, well-loved and starting second grade in January. Here are some other accomplishments of House of Loveness over the past year.
With your support: -Provided  6,000 meals for children -Provided salaries for one caregiver, two teachers and two assistants -Supported pre-school for 20+children -Provided primary school fees for 5 children -Provided 8 bikes for children in rural area who otherwise would walk 25-50km a day to school -Provided new shoes, clothes and backpacks for 30 children -Launched The Gratitude House project in Zimbabwe -Raised funds to buy car for safe transport of the children  -Graduated 20 children from pre-school -Hosted the first Service and Safari Retreat in Zimbabwe (next retreat is Nov. 29-Dec. 6, 2014, please join us!)
Together We are dreaming Bigger Dreams for the children of Zimbabwe in 2014.  
Thank you for your support!

2014 Service & Safari RetreatJoin us in Zimbabwe Nov. 29-Dec. 6, 2014 for our Second annual Servic…

Making A Difference

Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.-Nelson Mandela
Last week at a small one room school in Zimbabwe, thirteen women from the US and UK cheered as twenty-two children graduated from the school House of Loveness supports in Zimbabwe.  The women and two of their daughters were spending a week in Zimbabwe with House of Loveness founder Betsy Blankenbaker for a Giving Thanks Service and Safari Retreat.  The retreat group gave their time and their money to make a difference in the lives of these children.  
If you would like to join us in Zimbabwe in 2014, you can hold two spaces for 2014 retreat through a donation as a House of Loveness Hero on the current IndieGoGo campaign.  

We Need A Ride Campaign on IndieGoGo
Thanks to everyone who has supported the We Need A Ridecampaign for House of Loveness. We are so close to our goal!

There is still time to receive some great perks for your donation towards a new car for safe transport of the children in Zimbabwe…

Following My Heart

"It is the heart that gives; the fingers just let go." -Ibo tribe, Nigeria
In the next 48 hours, ten women and two of their children are joining me for a week long retreat in Zimbabwe.  I am filled with gratitude for the sacrifice they are making to leave their families during the Thanksgiving holiday, pack bags full of supplies to bring to the children and fly 20 plus hours to Zimbabwe. I have to believe the decision to come to Zimbabwe was made from their heart.  Their head might have given them another answer.

On my first trip to Zimbabwe in 2008, I arrived to the news the baby I was to adopt had died.  I spent eight days in Zimbabwe to get her buried and in my head I knew I never wanted to go back.  But my heart led me to return again six weeks later with a wheelchair for Kuda, one of the abandoned children I met whose legs were so atrophied that he scooted on his hands across the dirty hospital floor.  No one ever thought he would walk but I wanted him off that hospita…

Turning Rocks Into An Education

When I first met Primrose, she stared me down. She was only three years old but her gaze pierced my soul. She didn’t smile.
Primrose was ‘living’ in the children’s ward of a hospital in Zimbabwe but she wasn’t sick. She was abandoned, or a dumped baby, as they call them in Zim.  There was no room in the nearby orphanages so Prim lived with six other dumbed babies in two cribs at the hospital.  The week before there had been ten babies sharing the cribs but four of them died.  I had arrived in Zimbabwe to adopt one of those babies, a five week old infant named Loveness. I buried her instead.
In a country where a child under the age of five has about the same chance of living as dying, I didn’t want to see Primrose and the other dumped babies left at the hospital.  What kind of childhood is this?

With the help of friends and family, I founded House of Loveness, an NGO to provide emergency and longterm care for at-risk children in Zimbabwe.  The children now live in a private home and are …

Expanding Our Borders

Coming Home

This past week I arrived from the US into the airport at Shannon, Ireland.  I was excited to be coming home.  I've only been to Ireland a few times but each time I connected strongly with my Irish roots.  My mother is a Murphy and her family immigrated to the US during the Irish potato famine in the 1850s along with two million other Irish people who left their homeland to start new lives in the US, Canada and Great Britain.

When I passed my passport through the hole in the glass to the customs agent at the airport, he thumbed through my passport at the pages and pages of stamps, including one from being in Ireland just a month ago.  Then he glanced at my customs form.

"You're a teacher?"

"I teach a movement class for women," I responded, not going into the explanation of Qoya, the class I would be teaching in Ireland this week.

He scanned my passport.

"You travel for fun?" he asked.  "Why are you going to all these places?"

Springtime In Zimbabwe

I spent a week in Zimbabwe in August.  I really didn't want go. I'm so grateful I got on the plane anyway.

Before I left, I was feeling frustrated about the recent elections in Zim and how the results would affect the citizens.  I was also frustrated because House of Loveness needs a new car (the kids are taking buses and hitching rides to school).  I was frustrated because I desire to move the children to a better home but we don’t have enough money to make it possible.  I was frustrated because we are having problems getting birth certificates for the (abandoned) kids and they need these to go to boarding school.  I also felt pressure to stay in the US for the release of my new film so I could pay my own bills. 
The trip ended up being filled with deep connection to the children, the animals, the people, the land and the sunsets.  My frustrations turned to gratitude.

My first morning in Zimbabwe, I woke up early for a walk with three rhinos in Imirie safari park as the sun was …

Africa is not for sissies

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. -Gandhi

During trips to Zimbabwe, I end most days sitting on the verandah of the B&B I stay at when I'm visiting the children supported through House of Loveness.  After a day of travel to villages and working with the children, I enjoy digesting the day as I watch the African sky change from blue to a rainbow of soft colors as the sun is setting.

One evening a man on the porch greeted me as I took a seat.  He was Zimbabwean and was surprised to hear my American accent.  He didn't live in Zimbabwe anymore.  He was even more surprised when I told him I traveled alone to Zimbabwe (and other parts of Africa) several times a year.
"Africa is not for sissies," he said to me. 

He had a hard time understanding why I would come to Zimbabwe to help the children, rather than just go on a vacation and relax at the beach. 

I do get the benefits of a vacation when I'm in Zimbabwe (tourism a…

Giving Thanks in Africa: Join us November 23-30, 2013

"I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy."
-Ernest Hemingway

The air in Zimbabwe is called champagne air. It's crisp and bubbly, like the tingle of the first sip of champagne on your lips.  It makes you want slow down and savor every moment.

Zimbabwe sits a mile above sea level just north of the border of South Africa and while news reports may keep you from coming to Zimbabwe perhaps you will listen to the whispers of your soul, come to Zimbabwe and take a deep breath in.

I have been going to Zimbabwe several times a year since 2008.  There is something about the champagne air, the kind smiles of the locals, the dreamy colors of the sunsets, the radiance of the stars lighting the dark African sky, the beauty of seeing elephants and rhinos living in their natural environment.

There is something about the spirit of the Zimbabwean people that remind me to live in a state of gratitude, giving thanks for the sunrise everyday, giving thanks f…
"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find how you yourself have altered."                                                            -Nelson Mandela
I have been traveling to Africa several times a year since 2008 when I went to Zimbabwe with dreams of adopting a baby girl that had been abandoned.  She was named Loveness by the hospital staff who cared for her after she was delivered to the hospital in a dirty wheelbarrow.  A local man had found Loveness and three other babies, all a few weeks old, abandoned in the nearby fields.  This was the height of the cholera epidemic and the collapse of the economy.  After I received the call about Loveness, I arrived in Zimbabwe a few weeks later with six suitcases of supplies for the babies donated by friends and family in the United States.  I was thrilledto become a mother again.  Sadly, I arrived to the news that the baby I wanted to adopt died a few days earlier.  I've read that someti…