Project Share Love

Project Share Love & Gabriella Gala

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!):
http://www.facebook.com/ProjectShareLove

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.

 

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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 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku0epqdiGCQ&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL)

Thank You For Helping Build 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 www.etsy.com, 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.”http://www.haysomwardmiller.co.uk/page1/page7/page32/page32.html

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.

Warmly,
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.
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150413629209139.364265.271055084138&type=3

Perlton Edwin and Kenneth Malema

A Bright & Cheerful Holiday Newsletter

Dear BeeHive Community,

BeeHive wishes you a Happy Holiday Season and a Happy Thanksgiving to those in the US.
Thank you for your past support and encouragement.  This newsletter has some fun updates – don’t miss the short video that Katy put together! – we think you will find it inspiring and by the end you’ll have a smile on your face.
Malawi has had a rough 2011.  In July, the UK cut aid to the country after a disagreement with Malawi’s government.  This lead to tragic riots in the capital and also in Mzuzu, which ended with 98 serious injuries and 18 people dead.  Although BeeHive students were exposed to the rioting and had family and friends affected by the riots – we were very fortunate that none of them were physically injured.  In fact, BeeHive students have continued to flourish despite the chaos around them.
All the students at BeeHive School received high marks in their exams this year.  Two students did exceptionally well.  Perlton Edwin and Kenneth Malema got the highest and second highest grades in the whole of Malawi for the Cambridge Primary exams.  These exams test their knowledge of English, math, and science, and ensure that they are ready to move onto secondary school.  Perlton and Kenneth attended the Cambridge Outstanding Learners Achievement Awards, at Bedir School in Blantyre, to receive their awards.  This photo shows Perlton receiving his award from the Minister for Education, Science and Technology, and the British Council Regional Director for Southern Africa.
Over in the US, we have been raising funds to help finish the construction of the school.  During the summer, BeeHive volunteers Katy Harrison and Abe Downey camped and rode their tandem bike 3,000 kilometers across Europe, from Budapest to Holland, while raising awareness and funds for the school.
BeeHive School is still part of the internationally recognized Global Giving.  In order to partner with them, we undergo rigorous compliance checks, including site visits from Global Giving representatives to monitor progress and make sure that we stay true to our goals.  Global Giving has also been a great site to raise awareness and get others involved in the school.  For the holidays we are part of their ‘Gifts for Good’ campaign.
When you donate $75 to the school through this program, you will receive a hand-made necklace made with African beads as a thank you (for more info please contact:info@beehiveschool.com).  We have commissioned a US artist, Casey Hunt, to make these beautiful necklaces.  Casey is inspired by nature and uses African beads made from glass, wood, shells, pearls or stone. Each necklace is unique and has sterling silver clasps.  All funds raised will go to completing the the last section of the school including the library and assembly hall.
Construction is progressing quickly with only 1/3 left to go.  The classrooms and some toilets were finished earlier this year, allowing students to attend class in the new buildings.  In August the playground was complete, and is of course hugely popular.  The children love the slide, climbing gym, swings and even a sand box – a rare luxury in Malawi.  You can check out the progress yourself in this video:
http://beehiveschool.smugmug.com/gallery/19959116_RrLCZK#1598826543_tSFgs7G-A-LB
 
In October the school held ‘Open Day’ where parents got to go to school with their children.  Parents sat in class, had snacks at break-time, then attended a meeting and questions.  Niall, the founder and principal, said it was a fantastic day with very encouraging feedback from the parents.  These events help parents engage more actively in their children’s education.  Also, during Open Day the PTA raised 14,000 Kwacha ($85 USD).  In a country where a dinner at a very nice restaurant is $2 USD, this is a very significant contribution!

We have also been working with the Apricot Project, a group starting a new way to micro-finance scholarships for children around the world.  They are using BeeHive School as one of their partners while they test out their beta website and get the kinks ironed out.  We hope to have a few BeeHive students on scholarships from the Apricot Project soon.  Find out more about the Apricot Project here:

http://www.facebook.com/apricotproject?sk=info

Thank you again for donating to BeeHive School and continue to stay in touch. Your involvement has been very important in making BeeHive what it is today.

On behalf of BeeHive School,

Eva and Katy


The BeeHive School Website:
www.beehiveschool.com

Find us on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/BeeHiveSchool

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY4ilS1Gx1c

Partners with ASAP Africa
http://www.asapafrica.org/

US Postal Address:
Beehive School Building Fund c/o Katy Harrison
833 Sonia Way
Mountain View CA 94040
USA

Malawi Postal Address:
Beehive School
PO Box 831
Mzuzu
MALAWI

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Much Progress and Great News From BeeHive!

We have lots of good news to report from BeeHive School!

First off, along with four other schools in Malawi, BeeHive entered the “British Council Exams” and all of BeeHive’s students passed with flying colors! In fact, BeeHive’s students did the very best, beating out every other school in Malawi. BeeHive prepares their students to compete on an international level.

Niall Dorey, BeeHive’s founder, director, teacher, and handy-man, was lucky enough to host his old University friends that came to support Niall and BeeHive through their toughest times. Niall had a lovely time and is looking forward to their next visit.

Now for some really big and exciting news – The second of three planned sections of the new school are now complete and BeeHive is hoping to be back up to 150 students! Niall has promised to send photos and asks everyone to keep sending good thoughts across the pond.

For more photos of the construction progress, please check out our website: http://photos.beehiveschool.com/Other/construction/12083217_M66ta#858324315_nNnMx

and here: http://www.facebook.com/BeeHiveSchool?v=photos

Stephen and Maureen Dorey, BeeHive’s biggest champions (and Niall’s parents) organized a “Scottish Dance” fundraiser with the assistance of their daughter, Claire. It was an incredible success! They raised £470 for Beehive School, which will go to the last of three sections for the new school! Thank you to all those lively spirits who kicked up their heals and really got the party going! Thanks on behalf of every BeeHive supporter for your generosity and kindness!

And last, but definitely not least, the Ministry of Education performed another inspection of the new buildings and BeeHive passed with flying colors – in fact, the inspector said that Beehive was a model structure and that they would be sending more people to visit to see what a well-built and safe school should look like. Niall and BeeHive are finally able to breathe easier knowing the the school is up-to-code.

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