Nov 28, 2017

Friends and fun at the CH Hovde House

Playing with the new foosball table
Playing with the new foosball table

Every time I stop by the Challenging Heights Hovde House, I'm blown away by everything that happens there. From the incredible academic acheivments to the personal growth in a child's anger management. It really is a special place.

At the end of last month, we welcomed a group of volunteers from the Hovde Foundation, who helped support the building of the recovery shelter, who helped us spruce up. The shelter is looking great with a fresh coat of paint and they were able to help get a few beds of eggplants and tomatoes planted on the farm.

One thing the visitors saw was that after years of use by hundreds of children, the foosball table had been well-loved. They decided to pool together and replace the old table with a new one. Just last week, the new foosball table arrived to lots of cheers and beaming smiles.

Your monthly gifts to the children at the shelter bring the same joy and excitement, and I see that all the time.

Today is #GivingTuesday and if you sign up to make recurring monthly donations, GlobalGiving will match your first month's donation. How cool is that?! Help us finish this year strong with support for these survivors.

As always, thanks for putting a smile on the faces of these boys and girls.


Oct 27, 2017

Applying our construction lessons learned to the shelter expansion

The space on the left will be new classrooms!
The space on the left will be new classrooms!

This project report is a submission to GlobalGiving’s 2017 Fail Forward Contest, where organizations are asked to share a story of when they tried something new that didn’t go as planned and how they learned from it. Enjoy!

In late 2014, after working with the community to assess what the greatest needs were to address child trafficking we came to conclusion that local infrastructure to support women's livelihoods was a priority.

We came up with a two phase plan. As a part of Phase 1, we built a 58-oven community smokehouse for women to smoke their fish. The main complaints that this would address would be improving the quality of the smokeovens available to the local women and creating a safe space for them to work.

The community smokehouse was a smashing success and on the first day, we had barely enough space for all of the women who wanted to use the space. It has since become a well used site by the women in the community and new smoke-reducing innovations are being implemented right now.

Phase 2 of the project was building a local, wholesale cold store. This would allow the women to buy fish locally when the fishermen's catches were small, rather than travelling all day to the port and back. We had previous success with construction projects and created a plan based on our experiences.

However, this construction project had many more bumps in the road than we anticipated. Some issues arose from the land owners and misunderstandings about the project. We ended up with enormous customs fees for the imported refrigeration units. And we wildly underestimated the costs of the electricity needed to start up.

We are still learning lessons from the cold store project, but we're grateful for the chance to apply what we've learned to our latest construction project: expanding the Challenging Heights Hovde House.

Having run into complications with the land use previously, we made sure to purchase more property that surrounds the rehabilitation shelter. By owning the land ourselves, we are able to avoid these conflicts of interest when it comes to construction.

As we compile our list of necessary materials and labour, we're opting for local supply as much as possible. This will allow us to avoid any sort of customs fees and stimulate the local economy.

Finally, we have calculated a better contingency amount into our budget. This will better allow us to account for any unforseen expenses that may arise. 

As we begin to move forward with starting Phase 1 of the construction (a block of classrooms and dedicated library), at the Challenging Heights Hovde House, we feel much more confident in the success of the project having learned from our past struggles.


Also, just as a reminder, #GivingTuesday is just one month away! Mark your calendars for 28 November, and plan to give on that day. We have some exciting things planned to help make your donation go just a bit further.

In the meantime, why don't you sign up for our email list? Sign up here to keep in touch!


Oct 10, 2017

Favourite things at Challenging Heights Hovde House

Playing football at the shelter
Playing football at the shelter

One thing that we do at the Challenging Heights Hovde House is exit interviews with all of the children when they are set to be reintegrated with their families. We ask them how they think they've changed in their time at the shelter, what they learned and new coping skills they've gained. We also ask them what their favourite things are at the shelter. I thought I would share with you what some of those things are:

  • "The food, especially the jollof rice."
  • "The games we play, like football."
  • "My favourite thing is the school. I learned how to write my name."
  • "The food is really good. I like the chicken."
  • "I like how [the staff] listen to me."
  • "Playing football. And all the toys and games we play here."
  • "I really like doing art stuff."

These are just a few things that some of the children have said that they like about the shelter. Thanks to your support, we're able to provide so many of their favourite things.


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