For the last five-and-a-half years, I've had the privilege of working for an organization called Mocha Club. It all began a few weeks before my wedding in the summer of 2005 when an old friend of mine from Nashville, Barrett Ward, called me and said he had an idea. He was already working for an organization called African Leadership, and on a recent trip to Africa he had been inspired by young people who didn't have a ton of money but who still wanted to make a difference. His idea was to create a donation-based website built around the idea of giving up the cost of 2 mochas a month - or $7 - to support a project in Africa. It would be called Mocha Club. People could commit to give and then invite their friends so it could grow virally. I remember where I was when I received this phone call from Barrett - laying on the bed in Steven's apartment, what was soon to be our first apartment as a married couple. I was in a highly stressful marketing job looking for a way out, looking for a way I could spend my working hours doing something I truly believed in. So when Barrett asked me if I'd like to come on board to help him make the Mocha Club website a reality, I said YES wholeheartedly!
That was July 2005, and since then, it has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to spend my days with such an incredible team of co-workers, our passionate Mocha Club members, and our African partners who work so tirelessly. Every day I've had the chance to be a part of all the ways God is turning broken stories into redeeming ones - homes for child mothers, water wells in the wilderness, jobs for those in extreme poverty, love and care for orphans, hope for the hopeless. In 2006, I also had the chance to travel to Africa to experience it for myself. I'll never be the same.
And now, I am a mama. I have entered a new stage of life, and I knew it was time to let Mocha Club go, to trust others to continue sowing the seeds we've planted. So, this past Friday was officially my last day. It was a bittersweet decision, but my husband and I both knew it was the right one - I was attempting to work 4 hours a day from home after my maternity leave, and it ended up being nearly impossible. I've wanted to be a mother as long as I can remember, and I'm embracing my new role as everything has completely changed. I love the change though.
My boss and co-workers bid me a sweet farewell, and I promised to continue supporting them however I can. So, today I wanted to share with you a new initiative that Mocha Club has just launched called fashionABLE. It's a campaign to create sustainable business for women in Africa who, due to extreme poverty, have been exploited in the sex industry. I just received my scarf in the mail yesterday, and it's gorgeous! Extremely soft and comfortable, with a tag that shares the name of the woman in Africa who made it. There are 3 designs to choose from. I purchased the "Bezuayhu" scarf, and here is her story:
“I am now 19 years old. My parents had passed away and I used to live with my aunts and grandparents. They always wanted me to work and not to go to school. So, I came to the city, and there I came to this life of prostitution. // Now, it feels so good to get up in the morning and say I am going to work. It feels so good to have a scarf named after me. I’m so proud to be called a scarf maker.”
You are ABLE to provide opportunities, and these women are ABLE to have a new choice.
Actress Minka Kelly (from the TV show Friday Night Lights) traveled to Ethiopia with Mocha Club last year, and she got to meet these women for herself. She has now lent her voice to the campaign. A huge team of people came together to make this happen, and I am so proud of them!
After you purchase the scarf, you can even upload a photo of yourself wearing it and share your fashion statement. My fashionABLE scarf reminds me of beautiful Bezuayhu, and it is a special treat for myself 4 months post-baby.
Won't you join me in living fashionABLE too?