My Arms Wide Open

My Arms Wide Open's purpose is to rebuild communities through supporting mothers, children and youth to break the chain of their parents' past prejudice, to create community and preserve their culture. Guiding principles for My Arms Wide Open mirror those of founder Warren Te Brugge. "These are the principles by which I live my life and make decisions to deliver value in the eyes of the communities I serve."
Feb 5, 2014

A Community with a BIG idea

Do you need to carry your water?
Do you need to carry your water?

In our most recent report we talked about the progress we've been making with the One Brick at A Time program. We call it a program because it is actually a series of projects that lead to the outcome the community of Bergnek has established as their intent and goal for the program overall.

Latest Updates

Over the holiday season the application with Engineers without Borders proceeded from the local chapter level in the United States to the National level. The community has been proactive and responsive to the questions they've been asked and additional information required to support the proposal and things are looking very favorable for an overall approval very soon. We will certainly be posting more on this as soon as news becomes available.

The BIG idea

Unemployment is a huge problem in Bergnek and South Africa as a whole, for that matter. To address unemployment in Bergnek, Bergnek Community Projects and My Arms Wide Open® support the community to establish projects that connect over the immediate, medium and long term. The One Brick at A Time initiative is one that is more long term, and has a number of nearer term objectives included in it, such as the collaboration with Engineers Without Borders. Each project within the program will not only transfer additional skills into the community it will also provide additional employment in Bergnek, and help to generate the resources to address other priorities within the community including health-care and housing needs.

The program starts by addressing water access and distribution. The community needs a reliable power source and a larger water capacity. This is being addressed using solar-based pumps that can pump the volume available, which is more than the current pump can handle. The next project in the program addresses sanitation needs, particularly for children and the elderly. From there we extend infrastructure and with the increased water capacity have the ability to begin a brick making business to generate revenue and to enable the community to build much needed housing and a healthcare centre.

As you can tell, this is a BIG idea and the Bergnek community is intent on making it a reality.

Help this BIG idea manifest in Bergnek

Help us to get more and more people involved in the One Brick At a Time Program, which provides a direct benefit to the children and people of the Bergnek community in rural Limpopo, South Africa. Please forward our reports/emails and ask friends and family if they would like to support the My Arms Wide Open's programs.

Can you make a new donation today or perhaps set up a monthly or quarterly recurring donation? Please consider it and take action today. The girls, women and children we serve are grateful for all of the support you have already given them.

Another form of contributing: There are also opportunities for you to join us in Africa to work alongside these truly wonderful people in the Bergnek community. Take a look at the EcoTravel link below for more information. 

Thank you for your continued support of the women, girls and children of the My Arms Wide Open communities.

The need for proper houses in Bergnek
The need for proper houses in Bergnek

Links:

Feb 5, 2014

Why GirlStuff and the Pads4Girls program matters

Cradock Middle School
Cradock Middle School

Over the past few months we've had some inquiries as to why a program such as GirlStuff, which manufactures, sells and distributes reusable, washable menstrual products is so important.

Why is it so important?

The Pads4Girls program was started by two highly talented and commited women in Vancouver, the co-founders of Lunapads, Madeleine and Suzzane. We took their lead in 2010 and ran with it, with tremendous support from the entire team at Lunapads.

In South Africa, illiteracy rates near 18% in adults 15 years or older. The unemployment rate is an estimated 25% with 25.9% of women over 15 being unemployed. Uneducated girls remain trapped in a downward cycle of denied rights and poverty throughout their lives. Fewer than 10% of the girls do not go further than Grade 8 because of challenges that result in part from not having access to underwear and menstrual products as a young girl.

The girls are teased and bullied because their first or subsequent period starts at an inopportune moment at school. This crushes their self esteem and they end up dropping out of school permanently.

Without even basic education girls remain trapped in a vicious circle of poverty. They are excluded from the labor market and forced into informal or unpaid work. They don’t understand basic health, nutrition, family planning or HIV/AIDS issues. They aren't able to secure any other rights for themselves. And, they will never reach their potential to become positive forces for good in their communities. It is imperative that girls be given an equitable chance at gaining an education and employment. And that is what GirlStuff™ is here to do as a response to this desperate need.

Activities at GirlStuff

Last year GirlStuff had the products tested through the South African Bureau of Standards ('SABS') and the products passed with flying colours as we noted in our previous report. The next step in the process is to gain actual certification and to accomplish this we will need to raise $4,000 to go through the full certification process. This will enable GirlStuff to use the SABS certified product seal and be able to sell the products into market segments we can't reach without the certification, at this point.

Having the certification will give us the opportunity to increase volumes substantially and therefore increase the number of people, specifically women, working in the business.

Spread the Word

So far we have produced and distributed over 1,000 menstrual kits to school aged girls in Limpopo, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. We are anxious to do a lot more with your help.

Help us to get other people involved in the GirlStuff Program, which provide a direct benefit to girls in grades 5-12 in the communities of rural South Africa. Please forward our reports/emails and ask friends and family if they would like to support the My Arms Wide Open's programs.

Can you make a new donation today or perhaps set up a monthly or quarterly recurring donation? Please consider it and take action today. The women and girls we serve are grateful for all of the support you have already given them.

Another form of contributing: There are also opportunities for you to join us in Africa to work alongside these truly wonderful women in the Bergnek community. Take a look at the EcoTravel link below for more information. 

Thank you for your continued support of the women, girls and children of the My Arms Wide Open communities.

Training at GirlStuff
Training at GirlStuff
Bergnek School
Bergnek School

Links:

Feb 5, 2014

Spring in Vancouver, Fall in Africa

Building Gardens
Building Gardens

Changing Seasons

Since our last update in November we're winding down the growing season in Africa as the end of summer approaches and we're preparing to re-plant in Vancouver as Spring approaches.

Through your generous and continued support and some sizable donations from local companies in Vancouver we've been able to maintain healthy and thriving gardens across the seasons. In Vancouver we are getting reading to plant again for the spring growing season, which seems to be coming a little late this year with a cold and snowy winter season coming to an end.

In Africa, in the Bergnek community we are finishing a very hot summer, which certainly presented it's own challenges with respect to water and how well the plants did in the heat. We are preparing the gardens for the winter and also looking to 'upgrade' the gardens in the spring (September) to adapt the walls to our new design used in the Vancouver gardens. This will enable to grow even more productively and conserve more water in our next growing cycle.

Feeding Families

Over the past year over 200 families benefited from the gardens in Vancouver and Bergnek combined and as we mentioned in our last report we are looking to expand that dramatically over this coming year. With your support and the support of the organizations we partner with we will manifest new gardens in Canada, the United States and South Africa.

Building Support

Help us to get other people involved in our Food Programs which provide a direct benefit for the children and families in the communites the gardens are grown in. Forward our reports and ask friends and family if they would like to support the My World In a Garden program.

Can you make a new donation today or perhaps set up a monthly or quarterly recurring donation? Please consider it and take action today. The women and children at the Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Bergnek are grateful for all of the support you have already given them.

Other ways of contributing: There are also opportunities for you to join us in Africa to build a garden with the community. Take a look at the EcoTravel link below for more information. 

Thank you for your continued support of the women and children of the Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre and Bergnek Communities and the My Arms Wide Open programs.

Working in Community for Community
Working in Community for Community
Skills transfer to build continuity
Skills transfer to build continuity

Links:

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