Mar 26, 2012

Project Share Love & Gabriella Gala

Project Share Love - Art By Gabriella
Project Share Love - Art By Gabriella

Last summer, Malawi erupted in violent riots and everyone in the BeeHive community passed through a very dark and tense period filled with sleepless nights.  Across the world, loved ones fingers repeatedly dialed the country code for Malawi - 2-6-5 in a series of frantic attempts to connect with their friends and family and alleviate their greatest fears.  Hundreds of people ended up in the hospital and a few dozen were killed on the street. 

I  personally remember feeling shivers reverberate through my body when one of Niall's nephews posted a home video of men sprinting along a paved road dragging their machetes along the asphalt to sharpen them.  Malawi is known as one of the most peaceful countries in Africa and the imagery seemed completely alien to me or anyone else who has visited this beautiful country - best known as "the warm heart of Africa" - named so for the renowned kindness and hospitality of the people.  Fortunately, the BeeHive students and teachers escaped any physical assault, but the emotional trauma was jarring and the students were in shock.

At the same time, a very passionate, talented, and lion hearted young woman in Los Angeles, CA - Gabriella Gala - was following these events unfold with a deep sense of wrenching anxiety and empathy. But sitting and watching was just not enough for her.

It was during the riots that I received a frantic e-mail from this young starving artist where she asked me for BeeHive School's mailing address.  That was not the end of it - we connected and spent hours talking.  Gabriella is a creative genius - she speaks through her art and through her dance.  She understands how art, music, and dance can transcend language and can heal deep traumas - Gabriella herself had recently faced a devastating and near-death experience that put her in the hospital for many weeks.  But rather than let the experience cripple her, she decided to use her art to rise above it and to use that trauma as a source of energy to push against and to create beauty and inspire love around her.  She told me this was what she wanted to give to the kids - a way to rise above the trauma of the riots.  

Next, Gabriella jumped into action.  With little more than an idea and her passion to create positive change, Gabriella set out to raise funds for a carebox filled with art supplies to send to BeeHive School.  With the help of her friends, she started having dancing/singing fundraisers to raise money for shipping costs and collect art supplies.  And little by little - with the generosity of the kind people around her, she raised a dollar here and a few sets of colored pencils over there, until she had the funds and materials to send a carebox across the world. 

But hold on - that's not the end - this carebox is not the end of the story.  Rather, it was the first carebox of a series of a careboxes.  You see, Gabriella, rather than feeling satisfied after sending the first carebox to BeeHive School immediately felt a hunger and need to do more - to send more art across the world to help kids.  

Why art? Because art is more than the action of taking a brush to a canvas - it breaks down language barriers and is a way for us to process complex emotional traumas.  Art is a way for children to process pain and anger in a safe and constructive way.  And it's a way for a stranger from across the world to say in a very tangible way - we're here, we care about you, we're thinking about you - you are not forgotten.  

Gabriella's vision has continued to evolve and this incredible young woman is determined to visit Africa and BeeHive School, as well as all the other schools where she has sent CareBoxes across Africa.  To follow her adventure, please check out her project page - Project Share Love (what a great name!): 

Gabriella's vision is ever expanding and recently she has enrolled in community college in biology and permaculture - she is determined to learn as much as possible in order to be able to truly serve the needs of marginalized children all over the world.  Please like her page and learn more about her journey...I have a feeling this is not the last time you will hear about this amazing young woman.  In fact, she might be writing the next update from BeeHive School - so stay tuned!

And guess what!  After four months in the post, the first carebox just arrived at BeeHive School!  The students nearly had their eyes pop out when they opened up this amazing gift brimming with every sort of artistic goodie.  It contained more art supplies than the Mzuzu general store holds in stock at one time!  Everyone at BeeHive is looking forward to meeting Gabriella in the flesh and to giving her a very, very big hug.


Feb 16, 2012

Back to school for ASAP's Girls

It’s the first term of school In Zimbabwe, the weather is hot and the rains give hope for a decent crop of maize.  It’s also back to school for ASAP’s girls - the girls that are funded by ASAP and your generous donations.  They have been in school for a couple of weeks now and are back in the swing of things.

As we have said before, students in Zimbabwe are excited when it comes time to return to school because they actually look forward to it.  Besides the educational aspects of school, these girls also enjoy seeing their friends again and the relative safety of the school where the chance of getting pregnant is much lower than in the isolation of a rural homestead.

All of us at ASAP Africa thank you for all of your donations, large and small, to help these deserving girls stay in school.  Please continue to give generously.

Dec 22, 2011

This Holiday has been a Snowball of Love & Support

Dear Friends of BeeHive School,

BeeHive School has really been blessed with generosity this holiday season. There has been such an incredible outpouring of kindness - it has been a snowball of love and support. It is truly humbling. Thank you everyone! At this rate, we'll have the final of the three buildings completed in no time.

A special thank you goes out to long-time BeeHive volunteer Katy Harrison for her fundraising support this holiday season.  Katy was the magic behind the school photodocumentary showing the construction progress of the classrooms at Beehive School (  

Katy is also leading a very successful fundraising effort through Global Giving’s “gifts for good” campaign where people who donate more than $75 through the online Global Giving site receive a gift - a beautiful handmade necklace.  Katy found the necklaces on, a website that is “a community of artists, creators, collectors, thinkers and doers” where people can sell things that they make.  The necklaces are gorgeous and very high quality - each made with unique African stones and beads.  This endeavour has been very successful and has raised $950 USD (142,500 kwacha) for BeeHive School, and there are three necklaces left.

The story behind the necklaces is quite special.  The US artist, Casey Hunt, started making necklaces to sell through her Etsy store as a way to raise money for micro-credit loans for people in Africa.  BeeHive volunteers Katy and Eva purchased 10 necklaces for the gifts for good campaign and Casey used that money to provide a Kiva loan to fund a group of women in Uganda that own a shoe store business - you can read all about it on her blog.  Katy and Eva also paid for the postage to send to the donors, so that way every donation given for a necklace goes directly to BeeHive School.  Casey’s connection to Africa runs very deep, as she and her husband adopted a son from Ethiopia.  You can read more about their journey here.

The ESC Foundation, a family foundation based in Germany, recently discovered BeeHive School and approached us with some very probing and detailed questions, which we were delighted to delve into.  After a thorough vetting of BeeHive’s mission and the intended use of the funds, the ESC Foundation donated €2000 ($2600 USD or 430,000 kwacha), which will be used to complete the third and final building.  Please join me in a “Ich bin Ihnen sehr dankbar” (I'm very grateful/thankful to you) to the ESC Foundation!!

Ryton Methodist Church, in Gateshead, England raised £738 ($1500 USD or 188,300 kwacha).  Special thanks to Judith Stoddart, along with David Stoddart, Amanda and David Baker, Reen Dunlop and others.  Judith writes “It was a pleasure. We love Chimzi dearly and would love her to come back after Christmas, so when we found out about your school building project it made sense for us to try and help out as much as we could. We have been given another £105 this morning and maybe more to come!”

A very special thanks goes out to school teacher Debbie Watts who is a primary school teacher in the US' Department of Defense and is currently based in the UK.  In the UK, it’s customary for students and their parents to give a Christmas gift to their teacher, but this year, Debbie decided that what she wanted more than anything else was support for Beehive School.

Debbie writes:
“The group of children I teach every day--your children--make my job so rewarding. I get to do useful work that I enjoy with people I like. I feel so lucky.

I know how generous these children, and you, their parents, are. I know many of my students this year plan to bring me a little something special to show their appreciation. Every year I receive lovely, thoughtful Christmas presents. And I am so thankful for the gesture and the gifts.

But I look around my schoolroom and my home--it’s filled with so many wonderful things. As Americans, we are blessed to have too much abundance in our lives. I truly cannot think of another thing I need or want. The gifts that would mean the most this year are gifts for others.”

Her generosity is amazing and BeeHive has received many donations from the staff and parents at her school.

People all over the world are reaching out to help BeeHive and this support doesn’t just come in the form of financial donations.  Architect Rowan Haysom donated his talent, time, and expertise to design the BeeHive School buildings.  From his website:

"The design for a new primary school in Mzuzu, Malawi. The construction is based on locally available materials and appropriate technologies. These include natural passive heating and cooling devices, sun dried bricks, load bearing masonry construction, etc. The plan demarcates layers of transition from the public to the private realm, with the hall and library open to the public past the control of the admin hub. The classrooms are beyond a further transitional layer, placed in a cloistered arrangement. The external spaces are as important as the internal rooms, and together create an intimate, protected and safe learning environment."

Niall, the staff and students of BeeHive are overwhelmed with the generosity of all these kind people around the world.  For anyone still trying to decide where to invest their hard earned dollar this year - please consider BeeHive School.  With a little more help we’ll have the buildings completed by the end of 2012 - making it possible for over twice the number of students to attend school in safe structures (As many of you recall - the old school buildings were at maximum capacity and BeeHive was forced to turn away students.  The old structures themselves were also structurally unsafe).

Thank You Everyone!  And a very Happy Holidays from everyone here at BeeHive School.

Eva Markiewicz and Katy Harrison
Beehive School Volunteers

p.s.  Have you seen the latest photos of the school garden!  The students collect rain water to cultivate their plots.


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