Nyla Rogers: One woman transforms an entire African village
Mama Hope eases, lifts lives in African villages
January 5, 2014, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
[Nyla] Rodgers discovered that her mother had lifted an entire village by giving $1,500 to 10 women to start an entrepreneurial collective. Rodgers knew right then that she would dedicate her life to picking up where her mother left off. Rodgers spent hours talking with Kenyan elders about the needs of Kisumu, and came back to the United States determined to get them the running water, health clinics and schools they asked for. She wrote a letter to everyone she knew, and collected $30,000 to build a clinic in her mother's name. Two years later, in 2009, she started a nonprofit, Mama Hope, with the motto "Stop the Pity." She structured Mama Hope along a "Batman model," where the hero is unknown. Once she finds out what a certain neighborhood needs, she flies home, gets on the computer, puts on the gala cocktail dress and drums up the money. Then she sends it to an African nonprofit that manages the project, using all locally supplied materials and labor. She shows up with Mama Hope members and helps build the hospital, school or poultry farm. "People think we are just really nice volunteers," she said. "And that's how it should be. It's not about us; we are catalysts, we don't need applause and cheers." Since then, Mama Hope (www.mamahope.org) has completed 34 projects in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania that benefit 150,000 people, everything from installing drip irrigation to building schools and bringing water into people's homes that they can access with faucets.
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